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David Baxter

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Should parents tell the truth about Santa?
By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience
Thurs., Dec. 20, 2007

Some may worry about deceiving kids, but experts say it's OK to believe

It's OK to let your children believe in Santa Claus, psychologists say.

Some parents may worry about the effect of the Santa story on kids once they figure out who's really been eating the cookies and milk left by the fireplace, but giving kids an immediate dose of reality on the subject isn't necessary, says child psychologist Bruce Henderson of Western Carolina University, because young children often use their imagination and make-believe when they play.

"Santa is just one of the many fantasy figures that exists in a preschooler's world," Henderson said. "Adults might just be wasting time trying to get a child at that age to give up on such a warm and fuzzy character to accept adult realities."

Tell the truth or keep the myth?
A peskier problem for parents comes when children are older and start thinking more concretely about the world and wondering how Santa can make the worldwide journey in just one night, bringing up the inevitable question: "Is Santa Claus real?"

Should parents tell their kids the truth or encourage the myth?

"Most parents do not worry very much that encouraging the Santa myth is harmful or that eventually spilling the beans will make their children mad at them," Henderson said. "They are torn, however, about what to do when their children directly confront them with their doubts."

Parents and experts alike vary on how to respond to children in this situation.

"At one extreme are those who suggest that any kind of deception is wrong," Henderson said. "On the other extreme are those who consider most any fantasy to be valuable for stretching the child's imagination."

If the Santa bubble does get burst, parents shouldn't worry too much about their child's reaction, Henderson said.

"A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that children are remarkably resilient in response to hurt and disappointment," he said.

But oh, the deception!
For those parents who are particularly concerned about deceiving their children, it might be best to tone down the Santa mythology from the beginning, Henderson said.

But the best advice, as with many parent-child relations, is to let the child provide the cues for what they're ready for, he said.

"Forcing an elaborate Santa Claus story on children serves no good purpose for child or parent," he said. "On the other hand, following the child's lead in fantasy play about Santa Claus is likely to do no more harm than imaginative play surrounding Elmo or Mickey Mouse. Parents can respond to direct questions honestly with answers appropriate to their children's developmental levels."
 

Daniel

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For those parents who are particularly concerned about deceiving their children, it might be best to tone down the Santa mythology from the beginning, Henderson said.

I guess that would mean not leaving cookies and milk for Santa :biggrin:
 

HA

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What a great article, Daniel. I just knew that Santa was in fact real! :xunsure:

From the article:
Traditions vary: here, most people expect Santa around midnight, but in some countries ? such as Argentina, Sweden and Germany ? the presents have to arrive on Christmas Eve itself. That makes for a complicated journey, but by flying west from the Antipodes, Santa can pass through different time zones and give himself at least 24 hours to make the deliveries to an estimated 75 million homes.

There are many theories about how he does it. The sceptics say you would need 214,200 reindeer (assuming you had some that could fly) travelling at 650 miles per second, which would cause them to burn up in the sky like a meteorite. But scientists love to show that it's all possible: the astrophysicist Knut Jorgen Roeed Odegaard from Norway says the heat should be no problem if Santa has "an ion-shield of charged particles, held together by a magnetic field, surrounding the sleigh".

At North Carolina State University, Dr Larry Silverberg is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. He says Santa is a super-scientist who travels in a "relativity cloud" that makes the rest of the world appear frozen in a moment and gives him all the time he needs.

"Based on his advanced knowledge of the theory of relativity, Santa recognises that time can be stretched like a rubber band, that space can be squeezed like an orange and that light can be bent," says Dr Silverberg. "Relativity clouds are controllable domains ? rips in time ? that allow him months to deliver presents while only a few minutes pass on Earth. The presents are truly delivered in a wink of an eye."

As for Norad, it has as little time for sceptics as it once had for Soviets. "The fact that Santa Claus is more than 15 centuries old and does not appear to age is our biggest clue that he does not work within time as we know it."
 

Daniel

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The sceptics say you would need 214,200 reindeer (assuming you had some that could fly) travelling at 650 miles per second, which would cause them to burn up in the sky like a meteorite.

:lol:
 

lallieth

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Great article!

My 9 year old told me this year she doesnt believe in Santa anymore,when I asked her why not,she said she figured he wasnt real when she found a letter she had written to him,tucked away in my sock drawer..OPPS

I told her that Santa represented joy and happiness and as long as she had that in her heart,that Santa was very much real
 

MDH

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The lie is harmless unless it is taken very seriously. Although I think ethically it is very wrong to lie to a child.
 

David Baxter

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I don't see it as a lie at all, any more than reading a story to a child is a lie. It's fantasy, magic - it's fun - which is what childhood is supposed to be about. :)
 

sister-ray

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I dont see it as a lie, its a childhood story of magic and make believe which you grow out off, it what makes christmas special, can you imagine if adults where hypnotised into believing he still existed how much more fun christmases would be!! If people are going to see it as a lie then its a good lie!!
 

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