Tirdun brian_r_west
My son and santa

Since I've noted a few discussions on what to teach our children, I though I'd share a dinner conversation with my 7 year old just last night.

I've tried very hard to raise my oldest son to be somewhat of a skeptic, trying to make him aware that there are many beliefs out there and always asking him "what do you think of that belief?" when he asks if something is "true" or not. I then usually let him know that belief X is not the only belief on the subject, and that there are YZAB and C out there as well. He has gotten a healthy attitude about what others believe, I think.

Recently, we had a discussion about groundhog's day. He wanted to know if the tradition really meant anything or not. I asked him if he though a large rodent looking at his shadow had anything to do with the next few months' weather. He thought about it and said "No, I think it's just a myth." (we had discussed myths after viewing "Hercules" the Disney movie, he now equates a lot of things as myths). I then went on to tell him that everybody knows its a myth, and they do it for fun. That satisfied him on the subject and he went along with the festivities at school.

Last night, he asked me and my wife point blank if Santa was a myth. We were stunned and responded "what makes you think that?". He told us that he thought that if groundhog's day was a myth, and Santa was supposed to be doing things that he thought weren't possible, then Santa was probably a myth. We explained that Santa was, indeed, not a real person, and that parents and grandparents liked to play a sort of game with their children when they're little. We talked about it for a long time and my son finally concluded that Santa was part of the holiday that made it more fun, and that he wasn't upset that Santa wasn't real. He then went on to relegate the easter bunny, tooth fairy, and a host of other myths into their appropriate category, and then finished his dinner in peace.

I'm pretty sure that he's really ok with all of this, and I can't help but be proud of his inquisitive and logical way of probing through all this. He even went on to thank me and my wife for getting him some of the presents he particularly liked. We made him promise not to ruin it for other children, and I had a long talk with him later about it. He still thinks angels might be real though, but (as he put it), only because he thinks it'd be nice to have them around.

tirdun at yahoo dot com


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