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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rachel Responds

Parents approach Santa differently

Rachel Woodman

Published December 6th, 2012

When Christmas comes to mind, Santa will also, whether or not you are still a believer.
The story of Santa is typically a happy one and his discovery as fake usually results in few broken hearts.

But some controversy has begun about how harmful telling a child a lie about Santa could be.

Not being able to fall asleep on Christmas Eve because you’re too excited is a feeling that a lot of children experience. Many of you may have felt this way when you were growing up.

I would stay up late with my brother, Josiah, and we would imagine what our Christmas presents would be. We would have already raided our parent’s closet of course and oo’ed and aww’d over the gifts.

I would always try not to touch them too much because I didn’t want to figure it out and ruin the surprise.

Today, I’m still a stage five Christmas fanatic.

For many children, Christmas is a time of cheer, cookies, movies, family, friends and Santa Claus. But not every kid grew up believing in Santa Claus. I was one of those kids.
My parents never told me about Santa. They said people made him up, and family and God were why we celebrated Christmas, not Santa.

Some people feel not telling your children about Santa hurts their Christmas spirit. But as a stage five clinger for this holiday I don’t think it’s affected me too greatly.

Cynthia Lee said she feels her kids should be allowed to believe in Santa for as long as they can and requests no one hurt her children’s dream in her article “Please let my kids believe in Santa Claus” on nj.com.

There is some controversy around telling children about holiday fictitious characters. Some parents feel it’s deceitful, others feel it’s encourages the commercialism of the holiday, and some refuse to due to religious reasons.

Santa-believing kids today? They just think he’s a nice fellow.

“He’s a man with a white beard who delivers presents and flies with reindeer. I think he’s a cool guy,” said 8-year-old Mikio, in medicinenet.com article “Telling your kids that Santa Claus is real is a lie, but does it actually hurt them?”

“Santa represents the Christmas spirit, hope, cheer and believing. He also represents that parents can be very sneaky,” UW-River Falls student Liz Byers said.

Sneaky is right. Some parents go through great lengths to keep the Santa story alive.

“[My parents] would vacuum the living room and use my dad’s boots to make footprints leading from the chimney. They would even take a bite out of a cookie, and I’d think, ‘oh, he’s too full from all the cookies at the other kids’ house,” said UWRF student Maureen Croak.

Santa represents childhood and innocence for many. But for some parents the Santa tale is more of a Santa lie.

In the medicinenet.com article one parent said, “You teach your kids not to lie and yet we lie to them right away with Santa and the Easter Bunny.”

In this same article, Robert Feldman, Ph.D, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has conducted research on lying and deception and said that parents who feel they will teach their children to lie by telling the Santa Claus story are not truly saving them that lesson.

Feldman said that teaching a child to pretend to like a gift from a relative to spare their feelings or saying someone has a great dress when you don’t like it is just as deceitful.

Parental author Maureen Healy said she feels undecided about the story of Santa. In her article “Little White Holiday Lies” on psychologytoday.com, she said that she felt lying to her children would be wrong but her stepson believes in Santa and how excited he is doesn’t feel wrong.

Santa may not be a tradition you will carry on with your children but the spirit of Christmas is as real as you make it.

Telling your children about Santa if you feel it is deceitful isn’t necessary, according to Feldman. Do what feels right for you when the time comes.

In the meantime, remember that Christmas is just a few short weeks away, so start chipping away at those decorations and Christmas gifts.

Should you ever feel in short supply of the Christmas mojo come find me, I have plenty to share.

Rachel Woodman is a senior majoring in marketing communications and minoring in journalism. She loves to work hard, play hard, and use clichés! Look for her Facebook page “Rachel Responds” and email her your questions or topic ideas to QuestionsForRachel@live.com.

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