These are genuine questions for the No Santa Campers ...
What do you do about imaginary friends?
What do you do when your child puts a sign on your front door to keep out ghosts?
What do you do when you child sees something that isn't there and insists that they did?
What do you do about the afterlife?
What do you do about 'visits' from loved ones who have died?
What do you do when they ask about natural disasters? Murder?
What do you do when your child wants to be a 'real live prince' with a 'real live castle' when he grows up?
What do you do when they ask what happened to auntie's body when she was buried?
What do you do when your children make-believe, and then want to bring elements of the fantasy into their daily lives? ie. feeding their baby doll at the table, wearing their dinosaur costume and insisting that you address her as 'velociraptor' and wants to eat raw meat with her hands?
You get my drift ... I could go on. I do genuinely wonder how ardent realists approach these types of things with their children, and I do see a very real connection with the myth of Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or the fairies that come visit the bower you made in the garden. My eldest had imaginary babies for over a year when her auntie was dying, and those babies reflected much of what was happening around the process of death. When auntie went into the hospital, so did the babies. When auntie had a procedure, so did the babies. When auntie died, so did the babies.
I could've insisted that her babies weren't real, but it helped ease the difficult transition from life to death for her.
And I see that many of the childhood myths provide a similar balm to a very complex and sometimes scary world.
If I was constantly negating my children's strong imaginary impulses and their human need for make-believe, I think my grown children would have more of a problem with me always enforcing pedantic reason and being a magical nay sayer in the face of their very genuine -- and, of course, fleeting -- childhood beliefs.Developmental psychologist and AP advocate Gordon Neufeld
talks about children and anxiety, and uses the monsters-under-the-bed scenario.
He says that is doesn't matter at all that they are not
, in fact, there.
You can try to reason, convince or cajole your child in the hope that they will realize the 'truth.' But until their pre-frontal cortexes are more developed and they can hold complex feelings and emotions in spite of strong impulses to the contrary, the monsters are real. Not coincidentally, this happens around the time most children 'grow out of' the Santa myth, and then can enjoy and participate in the creating it for the younger children. We take turns being enchanted by this kind of magic.
I'd argue that the same is true for many of the other imaginary facets that are so typical of early childhood.
I also want to mention that before my child was of the age to absorb Santa from the larger community, I was totally NOT going to do it for the same reasons so many others shared here. I changed my mind.
Like so many things with parenting, we all do whatever works for our unique families.
We don't do God or Jesus, or even heaven. We don't do the Easter Bunny, or the tooth fairy. We do Santa, on our own terms, and in a way that feels like a very good fit for our style of attachment parenting.
And as a writer and storyteller, I suppose it makes sense that I'd be the one championing magic realism and makebelieve as a way to help children grow up in a holistic way, with their sense of enchantment nicely honed, both as giver and receiver.
Alright, must go write the stuff I get paid for.Thanks so much for the conversation! It's a valuable one, and I do so very much appreciate hearing everyone's perspectives.