or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Do you do the whole Santa Claus thing?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Do you do the whole Santa Claus thing? - Page 3

post #41 of 83

What do you do about imaginary friends?

 

It hasn't come up, but I would be willing to play along with an imaginary friend if it wasn't causing any real problem.  (I wouldn't, for example, set out a separate plate of food for the imaginary friend and let it sit there going bad.)

 

However, I would never invent an imaginary friend for my child and tell him it was real.


What do you do when your child puts a sign on your front door to keep out ghosts?

 

Nothing, unless I need to explain it to someone who comes to the door.


What do you do when you child sees something that isn't there and insists that they did?

 

It depends very much on whether or not he is frightened of the thing.  If he is, I put more effort into trying to convince him he was mistaken, because that can help to calm him.  But if it's a fun thing that he's enjoying, I'll just say, "Oh?  I didn't see that," and go about my business.


What do you do about the afterlife?

 

“Nobody knows exactly.  It’s a big mystery!  We trust God to take good care of us after we die, but we won’t know how it all works until it happens to us.  Jesus said [paraphrased], 'In God’s house are many rooms.  When I die and go away from you, I will get your rooms ready for you.'  Jesus said that at the end of the world, we’ll all get back into our bodies and live again.  God goes on forever, and Jesus said that we also will live forever, just in a different way.  It will be interesting to find out what that is like, won’t it?"


What do you do about 'visits' from loved ones who have died?

 

None of us have ever experienced this.  We have read some ghost stories and talked about whether we think they could be true or not, and what else might be the explanation.


What do you do when they ask about natural disasters? Murder?

 

I explain the situation as best I can.  My child demands more detailed explanations than most children I have known.  Here are some examples:

What happened on September 11?

What happened to Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Why did people fight and break windows during the G-20 summit?


What do you do when your child wants to be a 'real live prince' with a 'real live castle' when he grows up?

 

"That sounds like fun.  I look forward to visiting you."


What do you do when they ask what happened to auntie's body when she was buried?

 

"Her body will slowly turn into dirt, like compost, and help the plants grow.  This happens slowly and smells bad, so we put the body in a hole underground.  Usually human bodies are buried in a special park called a cemetery so that they won’t get dug up by accident.  Another way is to burn the body and turn it into ashes."


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?

 

That's fine with me unless it becomes impractical--see answer to your first question.  I would not let my little velociraptor eat raw meat; I would help her choose an acceptable food to pretend with, and if necessary I would explain that raw meat is unsafe because she is not really a velociraptor.

 

Your questions give me the impression that you're missing a central point in my approach: I don't want my child's life to be totally realistic and devoid of pretending and magical feelings.  I am happy to pretend with him sometimes and happy to allow him to pretend even more of the time.  However, I do not tell him things are true which I know to be untrue; if I am suggesting something for us to pretend about, I make it clear that we're pretending. 

post #42 of 83

Okay, I'll play. I'm not a Santa nay-sayer, but I did not ever lie to my kids and say Santa is real.



Quote:




 What do you do about imaginary friends?
 I made sure they didn't interfere with real life friends. My kids didn't do imaginary friends too much, but once when dd1 was maybe 4, she insisted her invisible mousies were sitting on a swing and wouldn't let another child get on the swing. I told her the mousies had had their turn and she needed to let someone else have a turn now. But that's all the imaginary friends I really remember. My kids are highly creative and imaginative (budding authors and illustrators), but they were never really into imaginary friends very much.


What do you do when your child puts a sign on your front door to keep out ghosts?
 My kids don't believe in ghosts. 


What do you do when you child sees something that isn't there and insists that they did?
 
Doesn't really happen. Occasionally they used to pretend to see something or pretend that dustmotes are fairies.


What do you do about the afterlife?
 We've talked about lots of different beliefs about the afterlife, but we are not religious. I do like the water cycle/raindrop analogy.


What do you do about 'visits' from loved ones who have died?
 Never happens although I have lost both my parents and DH lost his dad and we also recently lost my first cousin as well as my mom.


What do you do when they ask about natural disasters? Murder?
 We tell them about it. Told them about the typhoon in the Phillipines, Newtown, 9-11, Hurricane Katrina. We do what we can to help (make contributions, etc). My youngest was 2 when Hurricane Katrina hit and we did talk about it and donate toys and to the Red Cross, etc. I'm sure I wouldn't have told them about Newtown at that age, but dd2 was 9 last year and we did tell them because I didn't want them to hear it at school.


What do you do when your child wants to be a 'real live prince' with a 'real live castle' when he grows up?
 Not my kids' thing again, but if they did I would say maybe they would marry a prince and become a princess that way or they could build their own castles. We might go visit a castle.


What do you do when they ask what happened to auntie's body when she was buried?
 I tell them. There are several good kids' books about it. "Ten Good Things About Barney" is one. My kids are interested in decompsition. I was too as a kid. Buried a rabbit once in a friend's backyard and then dug it up 2 weeks later.


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?
 
No raw meat!!  I have always been happy for my kids to pretend. They haven't ever wanted to be called another name, but I would go along with that just like I would for any other person who wanted to be called by a nickname. I'm happy for them to pretend Santa is real, but just because they pretend doesn't mean I have to lie to them and agree that he is real. I never agreed that dd1 had actual REAL imaginary mousies, but I could go along with it. I don't agree with all the different religions in the world, but I'm not going to contradict someone who does, but neither am I going to profess to believe in their religion if I don't. They can have their beliefs and my kids can pretend whatever they want be it about Santa or invisible mice.



I have heard of parents that really make a huge deal out of "making Santa real" and jingling bells outside on Christmas eve and making reindeer footprints in the snow, etc., and really trying to convince their kids that Santa is real. That's too much for me and would feel like lying, but I'm fine with going along with it and doing stockings and all that. My kids are past the believing stage now, but they still love the trappings.

What I find interesting is the kids who continue to believe year after year. I have a friend who's bright 11 yr old boy believes. How does that happen when you go in any store and see displays labeled "great stocking stuffers", etc?
Edited by beanma - 12/12/13 at 9:58am
post #43 of 83
Thanks, @beanma and @EnviroBecca ... It's so fascinating to see what other mamas do!
post #44 of 83
Quote:

Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post

 

However, I would never invent an imaginary friend for my child and tell him it was real.





This! I am happy to play-act with my kids and go along and suspend our disbelief and think about maybe there are fairies out there really, etc, but I can't get behind telling my kids that something is real that I don't believe is real. I am happy to discuss all sorts of possibilities. Dd1 has been studying Dark Matter and Dark Energy and there are a lot of really interesting possibilities to play with there, but I couldn't just tell her that a fairy lives under the roots of our maple tree and try to get her to believe that I was telling the truth. I could say, "Wouldn't it be cool if a fairy lived under the maple tree roots. Do you think it could?" But I couldn't say, "I saw a fairy. I swear! It's true." I could ask her if she thought Dark Energy could really be magic, though? 'Cause who knows?

post #45 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post

 

However, I would never invent an imaginary friend for my child and tell him it was real.





This! I am happy to play-act with my kids and go along and suspend our disbelief and think about maybe there are fairies out there really, etc, but I can't get behind telling my kids that something is real that I don't believe is real. I am happy to discuss all sorts of possibilities. Dd1 has been studying Dark Matter and Dark Energy and there are a lot of really interesting possibilities to play with there, but I couldn't just tell her that a fairy lives under the roots of our maple tree and try to get her to believe that I was telling the truth. I could say, "Wouldn't it be cool if a fairy lived under the maple tree roots. Do you think it could?" But I couldn't say, "I saw a fairy. I swear! It's true." I could ask her if she thought Dark Energy could really be magic, though? 'Cause who knows?


Yes! I agree, which may seem odd. But we didn't tell our kids about Santa. Our eldest gleaned it from the outside world; storytime at the library, conversations at the park, decorations on the storefronts in our neighbourhood, the Christmas Fair in the local park, friends, family, grandparents, books, songs on the radio, questions about our families traditions, etc. Just like I didn't offer her fairies, either, but when she brought home a fairy bower that she'd made at an art class, we went along with it. This was when she was about three. Before that, we didn't have Santa at all, and it was quite the discussion between DP and I when we talked about whether or not we'd do the whole Santa thing at all. I didn't want to 'do' Santa, and she did. She convinced me, with the caveat that we'd do it our own way.
post #46 of 83
I don't think of Santa any different than Dora or other characters she likes. For us, it is a fun character we make part of our holidays. She knows people like to dress up as Santa too but still loves it! She just turned 3.
post #47 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post
 
 

Okay, I'll play. I'm not a Santa nay-sayer, but I did not ever lie to my kids and say Santa is real.

 

Quote:

 
 
 What do you do about imaginary friends?
 I made sure they didn't interfere with real life friends. My kids didn't do imaginary friends too much, but once when dd1 was maybe 4, she insisted her invisible mousies were sitting on a swing and wouldn't let another child get on the swing. I told her the mousies had had their turn and she needed to let someone else have a turn now. But that's all the imaginary friends I really remember. My kids are highly creative and imaginative (budding authors and illustrators), but they were never really into imaginary friends very much.
 
 

 

 

I just wanted to add and not get to OT because this is about Santa but it stuck me some of the things being said about "imaginary" friends are really not at all helpful or accurate.

 

In some children "imaginary" friends are not what they appear to be on this thread.

 

They really take on a whole other meaning in some children. It is not about lying and they are not in any way like Santa or Dora, etc.  If you are dealing with a child that uses (or needs to use might be a better way to think of this) an imaginary friend as an outlet - I would suggest this book - http://www.amazon.com/Imaginary-Companions-Children-Create-Them/dp/0195146298 For many children their imaginary friend does need to interact with real friends and family. I think many here don't quite get the understanding of what imaginary friends mean for some children, it's extremely involved and frankly not something you want to discourage, quite the opposite. 

post #48 of 83

Our kids are still too young for my husband and I to have to deal with Santa directly, though we've neither confirmed nor denied his existence. When I was about 6 years old, I started to get suspicious that he wasn't real and asked my grandmother to tell me the truth. Her answer (which I will never forget) was that Santa lives in the hearts of all the parents and grandparents who love their kids and give them presents to make them happy on Christmas. Somehow I really liked that answer because it both seemed like a) not a lie, but b) still a little magical.

post #49 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post
 

 

 

I just wanted to add and not get to OT because this is about Santa but it stuck me some of the things being said about "imaginary" friends are really not at all helpful or accurate.

 

In some children "imaginary" friends are not what they appear to be on this thread.

 

They really take on a whole other meaning in some children. It is not about lying and they are not in any way like Santa or Dora, etc.  If you are dealing with a child that uses (or needs to use might be a better way to think of this) an imaginary friend as an outlet - I would suggest this book - http://www.amazon.com/Imaginary-Companions-Children-Create-Them/dp/0195146298 For many children their imaginary friend does need to interact with real friends and family. I think many here don't quite get the understanding of what imaginary friends mean for some children, it's extremely involved and frankly not something you want to discourage, quite the opposite. 

 

If that is directed at me, I did not imply anything about imaginary friends at all. I said that my kids didn't do them very much, but the one time my dd1 was pretending to push some invisible mice on a swing at a friends house I did tell her she needed to let another real physical child have a turn. I would have done the same thing if she had been physically sitting in the swing herself. There was one swing. She needed to take turns. I did not imply anything about imaginary friends in general beyond that. I did not, and would not if we were still in that stage,  let my child hog a swing or other toy through her invisible playmates at the expense of real life friends. 

post #50 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post
 

 

If that is directed at me, I did not imply anything about imaginary friends at all. I said that my kids didn't do them very much, but the one time my dd1 was pretending to push some invisible mice on a swing at a friends house I did tell her she needed to let another real physical child have a turn. I would have done the same thing if she had been physically sitting in the swing herself. There was one swing. She needed to take turns. I did not imply anything about imaginary friends in general beyond that. I did not, and would not if we were still in that stage,  let my child hog a swing or other toy through her invisible playmates at the expense of real life friends. 

The statement  I made sure they didn't interfere with real life friends. is not what one should be doing for a child that has an imaginary friend.

 

Pretending one time is not quite the same as a child that has one for years.

 

The point is an imaginary friend is not the same as believing in Santa, many do not approach it the same way and really the two are very different and should not be lumped together as it is the exact same. 

post #51 of 83

You know what, this thread is about Santa and we're just going to have to disagree about this. There is no way in H3%^ that I would have let my kid hog another kid's swing at the other kid's house because her imaginary friends were on it. No way.

 

ETA: And if I did let her monopolize the swing because her imaginary mice friends were on it that certainly would be interfering with real life friends. There is no situation I can imagine where I would choose to prioritize my child's imaginary friend's "comfort" over the feelings of a real life friend. I never said that I wouldn't acknowledge the imaginary friends or let them "interact" with other friends in family. In fact I said that I told dd1 that her mice had had a long enough turn and now she needed to give someone else a turn. I said that I wouldn't let them interfere. Interference and interaction are two very different things.

 

Quote:
interfere
prevent (a process or activity) from continuing or being carried out properly.
"a job would interfere with his studies"
synonyms: impedeobstruct, stand in the way of, hinderinhibitrestrictconstrain,hamperhandicapcrampcheckblock

 

interact: act in such a way as to have an effect on another; act reciprocally.

"all the stages in the process interact"
synonyms: communicateinterfaceconnectcooperate

 

When I said I wouldn't let imaginary friends interfere with real life friends I meant interfere as in impede, obstruct, stand in the way of, etc. Maybe you're thinking of some other definition, but that's not what I meant. And I definitely stand by my original statement.

 

I'm sure Santa can be an imaginary friend to some kids, but I think he's just a story/myth to most.


Edited by beanma - 12/14/13 at 6:18pm
post #52 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

The point is an imaginary friend is not the same as believing in Santa, many do not approach it the same way and really the two are very different and should not be lumped together as it is the exact same. 

I get what you're saying and why you want to caution any mis-information about an important part of childhood. 

 

But, I think S&D's point was just to expand on the concept of fantasy and see where parents who don't do Santa for reasons of issues of trust and honesty draw the line in other parts of childhood. 

 

As with all things of this nature, I think it really comes down to the child. Like S&D we were iffy on Santa when your oldest was young but followed her lead. I suspect that all of us on this thread are doing that too (those of us with kids old enough to follow). I have known of kids over the years who just weren't all that interested in Santa or who really needed to apply logic and reason to this idea. Of course those instincts need to be listened to. In our case, we gave our child hints on and off throughout the years and in doing so it was clear that she enjoyed the myth...so we kept it going. 

post #53 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
 

I get what you're saying and why you want to caution any mis-information about an important part of childhood. 

 

But, I think S&D's point was just to expand on the concept of fantasy and see where parents who don't do Santa for reasons of issues of trust and honesty draw the line in other parts of childhood. 

 

As with all things of this nature, I think it really comes down to the child. Like S&D we were iffy on Santa when your oldest was young but followed her lead. I suspect that all of us on this thread are doing that too (those of us with kids old enough to follow). I have known of kids over the years who just weren't all that interested in Santa or who really needed to apply logic and reason to this idea. Of course those instincts need to be listened to. In our case, we gave our child hints on and off throughout the years and in doing so it was clear that she enjoyed the myth...so we kept it going. 

I see these as two totally separate issues when they get lumped together many see them as the same, they are not.

It's really not fantasy to many children either, it is much deeper, most do know the difference between reality and fantasy as well and still have imaginary friend(s). It manifest it self differently in all children but it is not as simply as saying it's related to how they interpret Santa. Many have numerous misconceptions and feel they are related - just pointing that out.

 

Imaginary friends are just that, not flesh humans you see in parades, at parties or even at the mall - Santa to many children, because it's a live the human being interacting with them, it takes on a whole different meaning, not to mention myth thrown in.

post #54 of 83
It's definitely an interesting topic, serenbat. Perhaps worthy of it's own thread? I have lots of experience with imaginary friends. My daughter has had many, and I had more than my fair share as a child myself.
post #55 of 83
And I'm not "lumping" imaginary friends in with Santa. I see it as far more nuanced than chucking all the nebulous aspects of the imagination into a heap. I do see it as a spectrum though, and both are on it, in my
mind. It makes sense to think of the bigger
picture rather than cherry pick one's
approach to the unseen -- and somewhat
tenuous -- aspects of imaginary life, be it intrinsic or extrinsic.
post #56 of 83

I see imaginary friends as different because the child decides for themself that imaginary friends are real- the parents go along with their imagination play the same way that they go along with "tea parties" with no actual drink or food, drinking empty cups and complimenting the child on non-existent cookies. The child sets the rule for the imaginary friend, the parents go along with it. I also have never heard of parents going to extreme lengths to convince the child that the imaginary friend is real once the child is ready to let the imaginary friend go (if anything they start worrying about their kids continuing to have imaginary friends), but I DO know that some parents resist their children no longer believing in Santa Claus.

 

 

Santa is the opposite- the parents (and society as a whole) introduce the idea of Santa, go to lengths to convince the child, etc. Authority figures that the child should be able to trust explicity insist that Santa is real without making it clear that this is imaginary play.  Even if the myth were more palatable, that part on its own rubs me the wrong way.

 

The tooth fairy and other such things are less intolerable for me because the myth actually isn't nearly so creepy. It still rubs me the wrong way, but it's not as strong a reaction as I have to Santa. Especially since apparently some parents have gone a bit wild with it compared to my childhood- $5 for a tooth? I got a quarter!

post #57 of 83
Yea, if you think the myth is creepy -- I can totally see not going with it, for sure.  The Santa myth in our house isn't a creep though, I don't think. He's a dude who has a sleigh driven by flying reindeer who brings gifts to kids who welcome him into their home. 
 
Getting back to what S&D was getting at, in our lives we have a lot of myths from our heritage, culture, society (whatever you want to call it). Mermaids, fairies, gnomes, witches, ghosts, dragons, magicians....  I realize that some people think some of these things are real but I don't - no more than I believe Santa is real. And I go along with all of them, following my DC's lead. Santa is no different in this regard. 
 
We did fairies full-on for a while. DC and I were in a head shop (of all places) and the front of the shop was like a little hippie store. This giant like, mystical looking man sold DC this crazy long story about these fairy coins he bought in Scandinavia that would welcome a fairy into a home if you built them one. DC was memorized and I got her the coins for her birthday. We camped in Big Sur and the kids all built fairy houses in the woods (the most wonderful little houses!!). They each put a magical coin in their house and waited for the morning. The next day they found that little fairies came and slept in their houses. Some even left behind things like a tiny copper cup or clay bowl. (thanks to me, obviously) We did this for 3 years. It was the cutest thing ever and my guess is the first time the fairies came was a childhood highlight for all the kids there. 
 
For my DC "making it clear that this was imaginary play" was not the right call. 
 
I share this because your child is still young. You may well end up with a pragmatist. I didn't. If your child shows you that he/she wants to believe in something like this, I would consider going along with it. Patti's story aside (the one of feeling betrayed by her parents), I think most attached parents are able to gauge whether a form of imaginary play is fitting for their kids. Not sharing this tradition or moral objections are one thing but outside of that it's really about following your kid's lead. 
 
And trust me, if kids weren't buying in to the myths, we would be a crazy gnome family. But for some reason my DC wasn't especially moved by the cute little guys. :treehugger
 
And one more aside... because we're atheists my DC has always phrased belief systems as very personal things. For us there is no "truth" when it comes to belief systems. I realize Santa is not a belief system in a spiritual way but I'm not sure my DC has found the lines between spirituality and myth and to be quite honest those lines can get fuzzy for me even still. So, our DC doesn't tend to phrase  things like, "Are fairies real?" She will often ask if I believe in something or if groups believe in something. 
post #58 of 83
Curios because I am really struggling. If you don't do Santa, what do you say at all to your kid to explain? DS is 4 and we were ambushed by Santa at a preschool dinner tonight. greensad.gif. Santa came ho ho-ing and I was just not even sure what to say. I whisked DS away, but he was distraught he couldn't go sit with Santa. And of course everyone is making a big deal.

I love the idea of letting your kid kind of reason it out, but I don't even know where to begin.
post #59 of 83
My DD1 is 3.5yo. We tell her it's a fun pretending game. We don't try to shield her from Santa or stop her seeing him. She wanted a Santa photo this year so we did it as a family. When she asks questions we tell her the truth, as we try to do with everything.
post #60 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carson View Post

Curios because I am really struggling. If you don't do Santa, what do you say at all to your kid to explain? DS is 4 and we were ambushed by Santa at a preschool dinner tonight. greensad.gif. Santa came ho ho-ing and I was just not even sure what to say. I whisked DS away, but he was distraught he couldn't go sit with Santa. And of course everyone is making a big deal.

I love the idea of letting your kid kind of reason it out, but I don't even know where to begin.

We do Santa but I have a few friends who don't and like a PP said, I think they just use this time as an opportunity to talk about respect for different cultures and beliefs. DC hears me ask every single person who I speak with about Christmas traditions "if they 'do' Santa" before talking about it. I think that sort of thing goes a long way. 

 

I am sorry for your experience though -- I didn't know that schools still did Christmas. All of my DC's school have done a "winter celebration" that's secular/ and tries to be culture neutral.  If that were my DC's school I would gently suggest that celebrating Christmas in a presumably diverse school is questionable judgment. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Do you do the whole Santa Claus thing?