I TOLD MY DAUGHTER ABOUT GOD AND SANTA – OOPS!

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My daughter is seven years-old.  You can call Child Protective Services now if you want because I’m telling you: my child’s father is a total jerk.  How do I know?  I am her father and if I know anything about anything, I know that I am that jerk.

I remember when my daughter first asked me about god.  She was probably three or so and simply queried, brow furrowed, “What is god?” [I like that she asked what god was as opposed to who this might be.] Without hesitation I told her, “As far as I know, god is a character in a story called the bible that a lot of people believe that “he” is real because they are afraid of dying and haven’t learned enough information to think for themselves.  God is pretty much like Santa, the Easter Bunny, Elmo and the tooth fairy.  Not real.  No one has offered any real proof that a god has or will ever exist.”  The mother of my child cringed.  She does that a lot.

I know!  The kid was only three but my expectations for her intellectual upbringing is quite high given her lineage (lots of high IQs, artist, and PhD. types in this clan).  Besides from what I see most kids are being fed so much bullshit that someone needs to tell them the truth at some point.  May as well be me.  No chaser.

My response to Tooth Fairy became a little homework project for her:”You mean to tell me some kids actually believe that a winged fairy flies gets into their house and leaves money under their pillows?”  I instructed her to ask the kids the following questions and let me know how they replied (or have the kids to ask their parents):

1) Where does this fairy get money to hand out to kids?
2) Has anyone seen the tooth fairy?  How do we know it exists?
3) Upon what is this tooth-for-money relationship based?
4) How does the fairy know when a kid looses a tooth?
5) Why do parents lie to kids?

The result of that exercise?  No one could provide any logical structure to the tooth fairy questions.  But she clearly sees that parents are not telling the kids the truth about the world.  The parents of her friends glare at me.  They do that a lot.  Now I just buy her teeth straight-up buck a tooth.  I’m the fucking tooth fairy.

And Santa Claus.  Jolly old St. Fucking Nick.  Seriously?  The other parents whine, “Whaaat’s the haaarm, it’s a fun story; a tradition.” Well the Confederate Flag is “a tradition” too but I ain’t flying that evil motherfucker in my yard because I DON’T BELIEVE IN THAT SHIT either.  And the harm is that you are telling your children something important to them then at some point your going to tell them that you were “just kidding.”  Reconcile that, parents.

Our next door neighbor, Liza, is seven also and still BELIEVES in the Big Three: Mr. Claus.  God.  Tooth Fairy.  Her mother worries how to “transition out” of the Santa belief structure.  My response?  “You shouldn’t have lied to her in the first place.  Now she has reasonable doubt about everything you’ve ever said and everything you ever will tell her.  The teen years will be terrific for you.  Good luck with that!”

I am that jerk.

Here’s what I tell my kid:  Listen.  This whole Christmas thing is a story.  A fun story for lots of kids and parents.  You can believe in Santa all you want but have you noticed that each store we go into after Thanksgiving has another Santa?  You want to know why?  Santa is a guy in a costume whose job is to get parents to spend money in that particular mall’s stores because the kid is being primed to beg for specific loot.  In fact, Christmas is all a big trick to get people spend all the money they have or, in many cases, all the money they don’t even have yet.

Fortunately religion was not forced on me as a kid.  I had the option of pursuing what I was interested in within limits, of course.  I chose the arts.  But I’ve seen most of my friends grow up with these “moral values” forced upon them.  How is that good?  And most of my smart friends have learned that all that was bullshit and harbor a little resentment for the misdirect.  More lies to fill the collection plate.  Parents can provide structure, values, and guidance without relying on a thousand year-old novel.  Heaven?  Hell?

no heavens nor hells
i don’t believe in fairy tales
proportions blown beyond belief
jingoistic source of make believe grief

People should be groomed, prepared, to get to a point where they can formulate their own beliefs and opinions.  If my kid wants to believe in UFOs and Vishnu when she’s an adult, that’s on her.  But I tell you, I didn’t get into the parent business to tell my kids a bunch of lies that I’ll have to hide or retract later.  I have my credibility to manage.

I am that jerk.

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15 Responses to “I TOLD MY DAUGHTER ABOUT GOD AND SANTA – OOPS!”

  1. writerdood Says:

    I look at it from the other perspective.
    I’m going to tell them all the usual lies, and then if they don’t figure out it’s bullshit, I’ll know they’re morons and that I’ve polluted the gene pool.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    I’ll bet you make your kid eat carob brownies too, huh?

    I was in kindegarten when my older sister and her friends teased the Santa Claus belief right out of me. I could have gone my whole life without that life lesson.

    There’s nothing wrong with a little fantasy but we’ve created a whole industry around this commercial endeavor called Christmas that drives our economy in many ways. Retailers do something like 40% of their annual business at the end-of-year holiday time. There’s just nothing responsible or sustainable about propating the myth. And to claim that Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ is bogus since the whole Christmas season timing was co-opted from pagan rituals.

    The tooth fairy thing is just gross (hello, germophobe) and the easter bunny..well, okay, everyone knows that if you don’t eat easter candy then you must not believe in the resurrection – but I digress.

    I think it’s better to let her grow up with a sense of pragmatic realism and not fill her head with fantasies. There will be plenty of politicians that will do that job for you when she gets older.

  3. RoeblingX Says:

    Thank you for leading by example. I’m sick and tired of parents sleepwalking through child-rearing by simply repeating the same bullshit that keeps them whining about their own upbringing each week in therapy.

  4. Uncle Remus Says:

    Props to the mad parent! A radical thought! Telling kids the truth!

    The world is fascinating enough as it is. No need for fairies and wizards.

  5. Z Says:

    Well done, Sir. I applaud you for attempting to actually be a responsible parent, and raising your child with open eyes, as opposed to following the rest of the herd and raising yet another Little Consumer.

    My Parental Units took a similar stance when I was young, and the older I get – the more I appreciate their honesty.

  6. april5k Says:

    well, at least you know you’re a jerk.

  7. graas Says:

    I guess you could further her real life education and show her a couple of episodes of “Oz” to dispel any notions of the goodness in people.

  8. RoeblingX Says:

    It is continually hilarious to see how personally people take everything when forced to question themselves. I presume a child cannot find happiness without the yearly hope of being showered with gifts. Do it for America, people! How about something real, like being kind to a stranger – not fist-fighting over that last Cabbage Elmo Pokemon whatever?

  9. Muskrat Pete Says:

    Lying to children, and also scaring children (I’ve noticed some parents are in to this) might actually be beneficial. My first thought about anything that’s done so frequently is it must be evolutionarily correct (forget about morals or opinions, evolutionarily correct means it was necessary to get us to who we are, good or bad).

    Lying to your child allows your child to learn that things aren’t always as they seem. Scaring your child desensitizes your child to fear. Being fearless and skeptical, that’s what it takes to survive.

    Would I lie to my kid about Santa? Of course not. Santa’s for mopes. But I would through out lies now and again, until that little ball of dumb started catching on, and playing along.

    c!

  10. SpamBolts Says:

    I think telling your child the truth is great, and as long as you’re letting other parents not be “that jerk” with their own kids, more power to you.

    On the other hand, one of my mom’s proudest moments came when I was able to figure out that Santa was B.S. on my own, and came straight out and asked her. I think the Santa/Bunny/Tooth Fairy thing is a great exercise for developing a child’s critical thinking and questioning of authority: feed ’em some crap, let ’em taste it, and let ’em come to recognize the taste. That’s a pretty useful skill to have.

    I think that parenting isn’t really about the “what” you believe. It’s more important that you’re thinking about what you believe. Oh, and no bad touches.

  11. miss universe Says:

    magical thinking is a totally normal, important developmental stage. Children aren’t little adults, they take baby steps which build upon each other to understand the world in a mature, adult way. Check this out:

    http://www.drspock.com/article/0,1510,3901,00.html

    Ok, don’t tell your kids about santa claus, or the tooth fairy, but it’s fucked to take away a cool and fun and important part of being a child, especially from other people’s kids. Are you going to ridicule your daughter or her friends for having imaginary friends because they’re not “REAL”?

  12. foultemper Says:

    You’re righteous and on fire to tell the truth.

    Think long before you answer this: whose interests and agenda do you serve?

    Not an abstract. Not The Truth. Not yourself. You serve her.

    Do your fucking parent job. Serve her. If it serves her best for you to tear up a few cultural and religious myths, then put your head on your pillow at the end of the day and sleep well. But don’t ever fucking confuse your agenda with hers. This is not a philosophical cerebral debate. Its about HER. If it serves her best, who she is, to blow up God, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus, do so. If not, go jack off somewhere else in your life. Be rigorous about that.

    Don’t ever confuse conscientious parenting with just being anti-mainstream. Be a little more goddamn serious and thoughtful than that. You had her. Do your job.

    Feel fine if you did. Work harder if you didn’t. And that goes for all of you.

  13. Cormac Says:

    @foultemper – you’re only guessing what’s best for her, and you never get to find out if you were right

    In my house we do Christmas (including Santa Claus) but not God. Being atheists we’re going to miss out on heaven, it’d be a real shame if we had to miss out on Christmas too

  14. Connie marble Says:

    you are truly an insparation! right now I’m seeing my friends with kids tell them all this bullshit. it upsets me.

  15. Elle Says:

    I think its okay if its a bit of fun but they shouldnt make them believe it too much they could say that there infact santa and not for them to tell there friends as its a big secret a little white lie is better then a whloe lot of tears….

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