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Old 01-13-2005, 08:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Made Up Characters We Teach Children

I dont know if this has been discussed but i thought I would bring it up to stir the pot...

Throughout many of our childhoods we were told of Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth fairy, etc. And I assume ALL of us before our teens (hopefully) found out that all of these "figments of imagination" to be non-exsistant. Do you think this could hender the ability to believe in God, Jesus, etc..?

I know earlier in my teenage years I really struggled with the idea of a creator of all things because throughout my childhood I was under the impression that Santa (etc) were real.

However now in my early 20's I dont struggle as much with the whole religious idea.

Thoughts?
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Old 01-13-2005, 09:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Growing up in a Jewish household, there was never any Santa or Easter Bunny. In fact, i am told when i was a perschool i told other children that Santa was not real and the teacher freaked out or something. Never having those did not stop me from questioning the validity of religion. I was brought up the question things and think for myself. If or when i have kids i will do the same for them. I see no reason why they ought to thing some fake man is bringing them toys ones a year or some other bull shit like that.
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Old 01-14-2005, 06:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I think those Disneyish talking animal characters are a terrible image to expose to children. It not only anthropomorphizes the entire animal kingdom (usually through the use of racial stereotypes, monkeys as black people for example) but idealizes an incredibly unrealistic vision of nature. Children would be better off understanding that animals do not talk with each other (certainly not with animals of other species!) but rather eat each other at random.

The lion that strikes down a gazelle isn't evil, it's just fucking hungry.
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Old 01-14-2005, 11:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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i did the math off a film strip in preschool when they talked about the midieval origins of St. Nick.

"but...santa has to be 563 years old...MUMHP!"

The "mumhp" sound being the teaching placing her hand over my mouth before i killed Christmas for any of the other kids.

i've said before, and will again. i don't see the problem between fantasy and faith. give kids some credit in their ability to work things out...they do not need to be steered precisely. They are autononmous beings, and deserve to explore the world of ideas themselves. they will pick up on what you're serious about and what you're not.

be serious about the things that you want them to know that you're serious about.
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Old 01-14-2005, 12:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We need these myths... it is from them that we learn to lie and accept lies being told to us... they're for our own good.
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Old 01-14-2005, 07:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I know!

I had planned on not bringing my child up with 'lies'- but 'grandparents' don't understand that. Now my kid believes in them and I want to tell them they aren't real, but then I don't want to spoil it. I remember the Christmas I found out Santa wasn't real..........so then after that, I gradually grew cusious of what was. Studied religions, philosophy, and spirituality. Now I am content.
but for him....I don't know. It's tough.
 
Old 01-16-2005, 02:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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i distinctly remember being very very young (3-4) and not believing anything i heard about santa or the easter bunny. not sure whether deciding that it was fake or absurd was due to a critical observation on my part (possible, but unlikely given my age) or whether i understood it wasn't real by the way it was presented to me.

so, it's funny when i hear about people once believing in santa claus or any other made-up character because i just can't relate... it was fake to me to begin with. i'm not sure if this has an effect on my belief in God as i've really not given it much thought, but it sure is an interesting question. i suppose it makes me more confident about my firm conviction that there is a God and that Jesus was the Christ because it was so natural for me to discard the other unseen creations (santa, bogey men, easter bunny etc.) but my faith in God remains.

good discussion.
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Old 01-17-2005, 01:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martinguerre
i did the math off a film strip in preschool when they talked about the midieval origins of St. Nick.

"but...santa has to be 563 years old...MUMHP!"
I highly doubt you did math in preschool...

In any case, I would hope that a child can be imbued with a sense of curiosity for knowledge despite characters they may encounter throughout their lives. Characters like Santa aren't just figments of the imagination -- they are often manifestations of ideas, Santa being that of giving, FORgiving (we weren't <i>always</i> nice as kids, but still received gifts), and happiness.
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Old 01-17-2005, 03:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I believed in Santa as a child but not the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. It didn't bother me when I found out Santa wasn't real and I don't think it effects what I think about God. I only believed in Santa because everyone told me he was real. I believe in God because I can't find another explination of my existance.
I don't think children should be raised believing that Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy are real. There is no reason to tell a lie about where the presents or eggs or money come from. I don't know anyone who was harmed by it but why tell a lie when you could tell the truth?
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Old 01-17-2005, 08:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macmanmike6100
I highly doubt you did math in preschool...
What, you want to ask my mother?

i don't get why people are so opposed to fiction. it's not like you're telling them that they're really not your kids. you're making up a story...one of the most human activities a person can engage in. why keep kids from it?
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Old 01-17-2005, 09:50 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I am not opposed to fiction when it is used as entertainment as in stories. I don't see a point to these particular fictions. What is gained by them? Would children be any less happy knowing that the presents came from their parents? I doubt it.
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Old 01-18-2005, 06:07 AM   #12 (permalink)
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What is gained by them?
Excellent question. Instead of putting the onus on those of us who dislike the "fiction presented as fact to little children stories" like Santa Claus, I think it should be on those of you who feel this is an appropriate way to raise your children. What do you or your children gain by having you lie to them?

I'm not talking about protecting them from the horrors of violence or breasts or anything, you may think they aren't old enough to comprehend these things and that's your decision. But why make up false stories to explain things that you don't need to hide from them? Surely you don't think your children are so innocent and of such low intellect that they can't comprehend you are the one purchasing gifts for them?

Perhaps Santa Claus has another, even more insidious purpose. By establishing the gift of material goods as a reward for good behaviour, the children must logically assume that those children who receive more gifts were somehow better. Since it's the rich children that invariably receive more and better gifts, the whole mythos serves to re-establish the economic class system in this country. Rich people really are better than poor people, even Santa knows it! Let's just throw the poor people in prison where the belong so they won't trouble the rich white people.
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Old 01-18-2005, 06:18 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I guess it's easier to explain to kids that we hand over loot at xmas because of Santa than because some guy got born in the barn a few millinia ago.
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Old 01-18-2005, 07:17 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Why is that easier? And how is that easier than explaining to the children that their parents buy the presents because the only expression of love approved in our society is the mindless accumulation of material goods?
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Old 01-18-2005, 03:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I think your sarcasm sensor is set a little low.
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Old 01-18-2005, 03:33 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I think your sarcasm sensor is set a little low.
Oh man, thanks for making my day.
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Old 01-19-2005, 06:50 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Perhaps it is.
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Old 01-19-2005, 02:37 PM   #18 (permalink)
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To me, the idea of teaching my daughter to believe in Santa is the same thing as telling her that she better believe in God or she's fucked for eternity. I don't see any point. My wife and I have agreed to present ideas to our daughter, and if she chooses to believe in them, fine. If she's curious about them, we'll answer questions to the best of our abilities. We aren't going to force her to believe in anything, though. That just doesn't make any logical sense to me. She can believe in the talking walnut for all I care, as long as she has a good set of values and can make a good life for herself when she grows up. I don't care where she gets those values from, as long as she has them.
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Old 01-19-2005, 02:50 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Charlatan
We need these myths... it is from them that we learn to lie and accept lies being told to us... they're for our own good.
Liar!

But seriously, I agree. Interesting how these imaginary characters are connected with religion, on the apparent level of the 'easter bunny' etc... and that they help us put a face and name to things we can't otherwise explain (how the presents or colored eggs got there), like religion (who are we? how did we get here? what is our purpose? what happens when we die?).
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Old 01-19-2005, 05:24 PM   #20 (permalink)
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How the presents and coloured eggs got there is easy to explain; your parents put them there because they love you and thought you would enjoy them. Why does a child need to believe these thing? They just unnecessarily complicate the world.
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Old 01-20-2005, 06:01 AM   #21 (permalink)
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They just unnecessarily complicate the world
The world is complicated as it is - adding a little magic and fantasy teaches children about this complexity in an enjoyable way - as does Bugs Bunny, Bilbo Baggins, SpongeBob Squarepants, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and all those other fictional characters you read about in books and see on TV.

Much of our world is based on fantasy and variations of the truth, I honestly don't see any problem at all and intend to make up all manner of fictions for my children (if I ever get round to having any) so as to enrich their lives and provide myself with some worthwhile entertainment.

My family were huge at fictions - at a tender age I believed that fish grew in the ground, that my Grandad had a magic Jelly-Baby Tree, and that he discussed our (My brothers and I) behaviour with Father Christmas directly on the phone on a nightly basis. Later, I would join in on these games with my younger brother who, on refusing to eat anything except chicken, would be told (perfectly reasonably) that whatever was on his plate at dinner time was chicken. One time on holiday, eating calamari, he asks 'What's this we're eating?' without a moment's hesitation, Dad says 'Sea Chicken'

To live in a complicated world, you need to have the tools to deal with such a world. These kinds of fictions provide children with those tools.
 
Old 01-20-2005, 06:49 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I think that if I had been asked wether or not I believed in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny etc. I would have told you no, but I loved the game of it all. My parents treated like a game, telling me that santa was coming with a little wink. I knew that they bought the presents and stayed up late to put them under the tree, and I'm sure they knew that I wasn't falling for the fat guy in a red suit story. It was a game we played, just like hide and seek. So when I got older it was easy for me to move on and leave that part of my childhood behind, along with stuffed animals and peek-a-boo.

I think that playfullness is important for kids when aproached as just that, playing.
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Old 01-20-2005, 08:55 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Last edited by Master_Shake; 01-20-2005 at 08:57 AM..
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Old 01-30-2005, 04:56 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I never believed in any of them. It just wasn't plausible. Even when I was too young to challenge there being a God or not I didn't believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Just no way it could happen. He can't get all of those presents out in one night.
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Old 01-30-2005, 09:27 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zen_tom
The world is complicated as it is - adding a little magic and fantasy teaches children about this complexity in an enjoyable way - as does Bugs Bunny, Bilbo Baggins, SpongeBob Squarepants, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and all those other fictional characters you read about in books and see on TV.
Oh wow that made my night. I laughed so hard. "Michael Jackson is just something made up by the thirteen year olds to scare us kids."

But anyways onto topic. I'd say that telling the kids a little fib about where the presents came from is nothing destructive. It encourages them to be inquisitive about the world around them, like the existence of Santa. I was brought up with that Santa Claus may not be real but what he stands for is--he is a force inside all of us to be generous.

Whether or not the whole "my parents lied to me" changed my views on God... I'd say I stopped having faith in God long after I learned Santa didn't really exist. But the ideas still stay with me. I still believe that everyone should try to be honest, patient, creative, constructive, and work to better the world around them. Success for me is not measured in money, but how I better those around me. So I thank my parents for that little lie called Santa because I doubt I'd do half as much as I do for my friends and family.
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Old 01-31-2005, 02:12 AM   #26 (permalink)
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the way i grew up, if you don't believe you don't receive. i'm sure i believed in santa as a child, even though i may not recall those memories as well as others.

to me, santa is a personification of values that my parents wanted me to learn. they did that through a story, as humans tend to do. how many of us grew up on stories like the boy who cried wolf? couldn't our parents have just said, don't tell stories to get attention or be funny cause someday someone won't believe you even if you are being honest? sure...and that would have gone in one of my 4 year old ears and right out the other. the little story made the lesson fun and interesting to me as a child.

for those of us who enjoy continuing the myth of santa (or whoever), i think part of it is also because we enjoy not only the element of tradition, but also the magical and fantastic energy it brings to holidays and events. children thrive on magical fantasies--why do you think disney is such a success? why do so many children want to talk to their pets? why do they pretend to be their pets? the myths we share about santa (easter bunny, tooth fairy, whatever) also help to foster that imagination.

as to how it impacted my ability to accept religious beliefs, i don't know that i can answer that entirely accurately since i was only raised one way. i don't think it made it difficult for me to have faith. i rejected the christian faith i was raised in based on things other than doubts about the existence of jesus or god.

do i believe in santa? not as a real person, but i still believe in the values that he personifies. while i didn't choose christianity as my spiritual path in life it wasn't because i found out santa wasn't "real" so jesus couldn't be either. before rejecting christianity, i did consider that the bible was simply a modern book of fables and myths. would that belief have impaired my ability to still have faith in the values and morals the bible teaches? imo, it didn't. i could still believe that jesus was a living man who did great things and i could still believe in the existence of god without agreeing that the bible was meant to be taken literally.
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