Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What should Christian parents tell their kids about Santa?

Super-mom Lindsay from Lindsay’s Logic shared this article from the Gospel-Centered Mom, which I thought was very interesting.

Gospel-Centered mom introduces the post like this:

I believed in Santa.

My husband believed in Santa.

We turned out okay. We didn’t walk away from the Lord or resent our parents. Before we had kids we figured we would do the whole Santa thing. We wanted Christmas to be as special for them as it was for us. But then we actually had kids and we had a big problem.

Santa wasn’t going to work.

First let me say I’m a huge proponent of fostering imagination in kids. My kids’ all time favorite activity is pretending. All day long I have pirates, super heroes, and exotic animals flying through my house. I love it.

I also want to point out that when I talk about Santa in this post I am specifically referring to believing in Santa, not whether or not he should be banished altogether. My husband wears a Santa hat while we bake cookies. My kids sing along to Christmas songs on the radio and they don’t skip over Santa’s name like a cuss word.

But we have decided not to tell our kids Santa is real. More specifically, we purposely tell them he is not.

If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know that the whole point is to direct us moms and our kids into living out the gospel. I tried and tried to fit Santa into that plan, but it didn’t work. It was like trying to stuff a giant man down a chimney…

She has four problems with the Santa myth:

  1. Santa promotes works righteousness.
  2. Santa blurs the lines between fact and fantasy.
  3. Santa is a type of god.
  4. It’s hard to compete with Santa.

There are some new ones I had not thought of in this list, because I don’t have the experience with a family or kids to come up with these on my own (which is why I read the experts).

This one is completely new to me (#4):

Who cares about a baby in a manger when there’s a huge man in a shiny red coat throwing presents and candy around like it’s going out of style? Kids spend the entire Christmas season looking for signs of Santa. They write him letters. They bake him cookies. And that’s just the kids. Playing make-believe takes a lot of work for us grown-ups. We are on the other end of it trying to hide the evidence and figure out how to field all of their questions. All the time and energy we put into keeping up the Santa myth could be spent focusing on Christ’s birth.

Some parents call the Santa myth a lie while others call it pretending. I’m going to call it a huge distraction. My five-year-old asks me questions about God all the time: What does it mean to be a spirit? If God doesn’t have a heart how can He love people? If there is only one God why do we call Jesus God? Whew! Talk about tough questions. If I told my son Santa was real I would get all the same kinds of questions. Hundreds of them. Do I really want to take the time to thoughtfully answer my son’s genuine curiosity with answers that aren’t even true? Do I want Santa to become the focal point of every conversation?

My number one reason not to do it is her #2. But she says it a different way than I do:

So precious are the moments when the kids climb onto our laps for a Bible story. We talk about Jesus and how He lived a perfect life and died for our sins. We talk about the mighty power of God who created the world, parted the Red Sea, and closed the mouths of lions. They listen intently.

And they believe me.

Sometimes my heart aches when I look into their wide eyes and innocent faces and think, “They trust me implicitly. I want so dearly to lead them in the truth.” If my husband and I throw Santa into the mix of “true” stories, what will they think later when they find out Santa is not real? How about Noah’s ark? How about the ten plagues? How about that Jesus guy who was kind of like a religious magician? We want the categories of true and fantasy to be clearly divided. Characters don’t get to jump back and forth from one category to the other.

This one resonates with me because I am very curious about why Christian-raised kids fall away when they get to university. I’ve talked to men and women who went from pristine Sunday-school teaching Christians to binge drinking, having sex, cohabitating with atheists and yes, having abortions. And they tell me the reasons why they do that.

Obviously, the first reason is that they are not raised to see what is wrong with other worldviews and cultural practices like drinking and sex. Parents typically take the Santa view of morality with those issues – don’t embarrass me or else no goodies for you. No evidence is presented beyond “because I don’t want you to embarrass me”. And when the kids get to university and the incentives change, it’s over.

But the other reason is just the overwhelming sense that kids gets when they get to university and look at what they hear from the professors and think “I was lied to”. They think that because Christian parents and pastors have not talked about apologetics or anything else interesting (biology, economics, etc) that is related to Christianity. The kids have a childish trust in God and it is mowed over by atheist professors and their “arguments” about how micro-evolution explains the origin of DNA and animal phyla, how the multiverse explains fine-tuning and how the eternal universe making a Creator unnecessary. It’s nonsense, but if all they heard as a kid is even sillier Santa Claus nonsense, then it works.

Treat your kids respectfully, and they’ll respect you and your beliefs.

Filed under: Commentary, ,

Why Christian parents should not teach their children that Santa Claus is real

From Dr. Lydia McGrew, who blogs at What’s Wrong with the World.

Excerpt:

Here’s another anecdotal example of a child’s linking belief in God and in Santa Claus dangerously: In March a young girl visited my (small) church, and my eldest daughter spent some time talking with her. My daughter ended up much concerned about her. The younger girl, age 9, had clearly been trying to test the waters to see what the 16-year-old wanted her to say. At one point she said, “I’m not even sure I believe in God. Well, I sort of believe in Him. I sort of believe in God and Santa Claus.” This was not reassuring.

Consider what it means to teach a young child to believe that Santa Claus is real. You are teaching the child that a person exists who is benevolent and has super-powers, who can do incredible things, who sees his actions while remaining unseen, who rewards good acts, and with whom (if you encourage letter-writing to Santa) the child can communicate.

If you’re a Christian parent, you are very likely teaching the child at the same time in his life and at the same stage in his development to believe in God–a powerful and benevolent Being who sees his actions while remaining unseen, who rewards good actions and punishes evil actions, and with whom the child can communicate by praying. In fact, you encourage him to pray to this Unseen Being.

To induce belief in your child in both of these teachings, you are relying on the fact that children naturally believe what their parents tell them.

But one is an unimportant falsehood and the other is the ultimately important Truth.

Belief in Santa Claus is temporary. Eventually kids figure out that Mom and Dad have been telling them a white lie and that the causes of the presents on Christmas morning are mundane. As the above story about the artist’s daughter shows, it isn’t that much of a stretch for the astute child to wonder whether the other story about an invisible, benevolent Being who is the cause of all things, seen and unseen, has also been a white lie and whether the causes of all the things previously attributed to Him are, instead, mundane.

Atheists trade on this. I’m sure my astute readers could find dozens of examples of atheist rants to very much the “when I became a man, I put away childish things” effect. And this trope can be very effective for older young people as well. A Christian high school or college student willno doubt at some point encounter the following line of thought: “Why do you believe in God? Because your parents told you that He exists, right? But you believed in Santa Claus on the same basis. If you’d been raised in another culture, you would believe a different religion, and they can’t all be true. At some point you have to start thinking for yourself. Just as it turned out that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, so, you’ll find, it turns out that God doesn’t exist either. You’re old enough to figure this out for yourself.”

Unfortunately, most Christian young people do not go to college primed with evidences for the existence of God and for Christianity. This argument against authority may well strike them as devastating. And–I’m sorry to have to say it, but it must be said–it will strike them as all the more devastating if the coin of parental speech has been devalued by those little white lies told them in their innocence for the sake of cuteness.

When I ask parents why they would want to tell their children something that they know isn’t true, they usually tell me that having their children believe nice-sounding things is amusing to them. It seems to me that it’s a split between:

  • pride: knowing something that the children don’t know
  • deception: making children think that the world is nicer than it really is
  • manipulation: tricking children into “being good” by appealing to material goods (easy), instead of presenting reasons and articulating a full-blown theistic worldview that grounds morality as part of the design of the Creator (hard)

I am a former camp counselor and teacher. When I was in my teens, I worked with children of all different ages from 3-12 as well as with developmentally delayed adults – mostly teaching them sports, games, math, logic and other useful things. I always treated the children with respect, because in my mind, these were all future Airborne Rangers, future submarine drivers, future diplomats/CIA spies, future software engineers, future Congressman, future cryptographers, future nurses, future doctors, etc. And what I found is that although children like it when they are allowed to be childish, they also like it when you talk to them like adults and treat them like a smaller version of you. They understand treating them like a to-be grown-up as a form of respect. Young men especially love to be trusted with big responsibilities.

I looked at each child and thought to myself, “this is how football players look at age 8″ or “this person could be my boss one day”. And guess what? They really like being treated with respect, and they really like it when people tell them what to expect in the future. They like understanding what school will be like, what work will be like, how to make money, how cars work, what going to the airport and flying on a plane is like, and how to write computer programs. And when you lie to them about anything, it undermines their trust in you for everything. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to proportion rewards to good behavior, I’m saying that it’s wrong to tie rewards  to a myth which will eventually be exposed.

Just this week I was busy scheming with some Christian college students about their future jobs and what they should be learning and doing in order to be successful while still having a ministry. Why not treat children and young adults like that? Why not give them good advice and do things together with them and build them up with resources so that they can achieve? They are not your pets, they are not there to amuse you. They work for God – just like you. You both have the same boss, and the same job. You have a responsibility to act in a way that will help them to achieve goals, be effective and be influential.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Build-A-Bear pushes global warming alarmism onto young children

Story from Big Government. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

…the Build-A-Bear empire sweeps across nearly every state and into 17 other countries. You’ll find their outlets in shopping malls everywhere and even some ballparks. The company also has a website called Build-A-Bearville.com where children can play an interactive video game that, on it’s surface, is unlikely to raise suspicion or sound alarms.

But when your unsuspecting tot logs on and hops a virtual train to the North Pole…you should know that he or she will be informed — by Santa Claus — that Christmas may be canceled this year due to Global Warming. Below is part two of the 3-part video.

Here’s the video:

Here’s a little part of the dialog:

Girl Elf: Santa, it’s gone!

Papa Elf: It’s gone, It’s gone!

Santa: What’s gone?

Girl Elf: Tell ‘em, Dad!

Papa Elf: The North Peak.

Santa: A mountain? A mountain’s gone? How is that possible?

Ella the polar bear: Santa, sir, that’s why I’m here. That’s why we’re here. The ice is melting!

Santa: Yes, my dear, we know, the climate is changing. There’s bound to be a little melting.

Ella: It’s worse than that, Santa, a lot worse! At the rate it’s melting, the North Pole will be gone by Christmas!”

Santa: My, my…all of this gone by next Christmas? I don’t think so.

Ella: No sir, not next Christmas, this Christmas! The day after tomorrow!

The left isn’t interested in debating adults about global warming… they just want to scare your kids into becoming socialists. Isn’t it funny how the secular left complains about teaching children about the Devil and Hell, calling it child abuse? But they have no qualms at all about scaring children with lies about the great global warming Devil and the impending Hell that is the result of our sinful American way of life. It goes on every day in the public schools.

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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