Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Teaching Kids to Lie...Because Santa.

This isn't really "feminist" or even "important" but in this space I get to write and process whatever I want, so deal.

Today, I read two things, back to back on my social media pages, that gave me pause. First was a post on Tumblr which read, "When a child is punished for their honesty, they begin to lie."

The next was this image on Facebook:
[Image text reads: "When you stop believing in Santa Claus, you get underwear."]
Besides the obvious illustration of the difference between my Facebook feed and my Tumblr dashboard, I thought this was interesting to see back to back.

I've long been disturbed by the, "you must believe in Santa Claus!" rule that permeates our society. Maybe it's because I don't have kids so I don't get the appeal, but I'm not sure why this is SUCH an important lie Christian families in America feel they must tell their kids.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to the mythology and fun around Santa, and signing gifts as from Santa or whatever...but the full on creation and pushing of the lie that HE ABSOLUTELY DOES EXIST AND GAVE YOU THOSE GIFTS AND THE ELF ON THE SHELF IS WATCHING AND DON'T YOU DARE QUESTION IT is beyond me.

I know numerous families, including my own, where kids aren't allowed to say stuff like, "Santa isn't real!" and if you do, then the response is, automatically, "Ok, well you don't get gifts anymore!" What kid is going to be like, "That's cool, keep your gifts and your dirty lies, Grandma, Santa is a hoax." They, instead, begin indulging in the continuation of the lie, pretending they don't know how it works, and teaching the lie to younger kids, and so on.

Of course, I know there's a difference between this lie and lies which are directly intended to hurt people--but how are parents able to mange the cognitive dissonance around punishing their kids for lying, but then saying this kind of stuff to them?

What would be so bad about a discussion of the spirit of giving at Christmas, and Santa as a symbol of that...but the gift giving is between actual, real life people? Why does it have to be "Believe in Santa!!!!"

It weirds me out.

I think there is value to the phrase that I started this all with: "When a child is punished for their honesty, they begin to lie." I hate the idea of punishing kids for speaking their truth...whether is something as small as, "Hey, I don't think that this Santa thing is what the adults are making out to be..." all they way up to bigger things that parents really need to know and listen to like, "I'm not a boy" or "I don't like it when Uncle Rob comes over."

Just a thought.

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