Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, Tooth Fairy..is lying to our children okay?

Sharon - posted on 03/18/2014 ( 88 moms have responded )

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"It's all in fun!" Is it really? Why is it a dilemma to tell your children the truth, or protect them from someone else telling them the truth "too soon"? How do your children know they can trust you when you tell them something else, such as Jesus is real, when you have deceived them previously?

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Wow! After reading through these comments all I can think is- if you don't want to tell children Santa, Easter bunny, etc. are real...DON'T, but get off your high horse about how others raise their kids. Seriously. You act surprised and indignant that some on here are defensive about your posts, but dear lord! You accuse them of being "incapable of learning," "having lower intelligence," "having underdeveloped reasoning skills", ASSUME they have not assessed the pros and cons and made a CHOICE for their family (which is no one else's business by the way) etc, etc, etc. That is all extremely offensive, judgmental, and condescending. And then openly profess your Christianity...no wonder so many people have a bad taste for Christians! (I was also raised Christian and I feel that sort of judgmental behavior is very unlike Christ.) All because they have chosen to go a different route than you believe is best? Come on. To me THAT is ignorant. You can site whatever articles you want, but anyone who digs a little can find just as much evidence from literally millions of people who could share their personal experience as not having been traumatized in the least by these illusions of childhood. You can find evidence on the internet to support almost anything you want if you look hard enough. I do not "lie" to my children (ages 3 & 4) about Santa, Easter bunny, tooth fairy, etc. They hear these things on tv, from other children, from other adults...everywhere. I speak about these things to my children as if they are fairy tales, and that was a CONSCIOUS CHOICE I made before ever having children. Not because I was traumatized in learning the truth, but mainly to avoid the uncomfortable discussion when they hear the truth from someone else. However, my kids have very vivid imaginations and choose to believe. I have told them that Santa is a "story", but we still leave milk and cookies out and I'm pretty sure they cling to the story as if it's real and that's ok. My own personal experience as a child: My parents treated these characters as if they were real, but I can remember even as a very small child having an unspoken knowledge deep down that it was all just make believe and fun. But I still behaved as though it were completely real. When I first heard another child say Santa's not real I was neither devastated nor surprised. At the age of 5 or 6 I felt I had already known it deep down all along, and it was no big deal.

Gena - posted on 03/22/2014

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Ladies i am shutting this thread down.I think its gone to far with rudeness etc.
Gena
WtCoM Mod

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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Ladies, ladies....we may have to shut this forum down. Everyone has pretty much expressed their view on the original topic. Can we walk away from it now and find more constructive ways to use our time? My tuna fish sandwich was nummy. I put celery, sweet pickle relish, fresh diced tomatoes and chopped boiled egg with it...lettuce on top.

Jodi - posted on 03/21/2014

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We have never really celebrated halloween in Australia. Valentines Day is also merely a commercial stunt in my opinion. I actually loathe the heavy commercialisation of ALL holidays. But that doesn't mean I don't follow some of the traditions because I choose to.

I will always be respectful of how others wish to celebrate their holidays, and all I ask is that others have the same courtesy without name calling and slights on intelligence.

Jodi - posted on 03/21/2014

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"when it comes right down to it sharon, the people that say it is not wrong will never change because if they don't see it as wrong after all this evidence and lets face it, they are incapable of learning from others."

But that's the point. People who don't agree with you are NOT wrong. And neither are YOU!! The fact is, we are all doing what is RIGHT for our particular families and our children. No-one here is wrong in their thinking. That is the difference between you and I. Your way is right (according to you), whereas I actually don't see the problem with either position. By saying those who do it differently are wrong, you ARE making judgement and insinuating bad parenting.

"Let them lie and have gullible kids who get laughed at by the smart kids who know the truth."

Yet another rude and inaccurate statement. Knowing the truth doesn't necessarily make a child smart, I assure you.

"Maybe one day when their kid comes home in tears from school because they have been laughed at for believing in fairy tales they will see the benefit of not setting their kids up for it."

Or maybe those other children should be taught to be respectful of other people's beliefs.

"And then along comes one person smart enough and curious enough to ask why, and they find out they don't really need to follow that tradition."

Again, this has nothing to do with intelligence. It is to do with you making a choice, just as every parent does, and choosing to go one way rather than the other. Choosing to go the other makes a person no less intelligent.

This conversation has been closed to further comments

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A - posted on 03/22/2014

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Jane, you kind of are being rude, saying your way of parenting is a better way. None of us are perfect and if you choose to do things your way great for you, but to come on a board and insult those who don't do things your way is rude. If you can't see that then I feel sorry for you.

Jane - posted on 03/22/2014

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Mama said -"Wow! After reading through these comments all I can think is- if you don't want to tell children Santa, Easter bunny, etc. are real...DON'T, but get off your high horse about how others raise their kids. Seriously. You act surprised and indignant that some on here are defensive about your posts, but dear lord! You accuse them of being "incapable of learning," "having lower intelligence," "having underdeveloped reasoning skills", ASSUME they have not assessed the pros and cons and made a CHOICE for their family (which is no one else's business by the way) etc, etc, etc. That is all extremely offensive, judgmental, and condescending. And then openly profess your Christianity...no wonder so many people have a bad taste for Christians! (I was also raised Christian and I feel that sort of judgmental behavior is very unlike Christ.) "

Me- I AM NOT SHARON, I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN, SO DONT BLAME SHARON BECAUSE I FACED RUDENESS AND CONDESCENSION WITH MORE OF THE SAME. nor do I profess to be a better person in general, but on this subject I stand firm in my opinion and my belief that lying is not a good practice in general with our children. If I were taking a stand on a more important issue like, "murder is wrong" or "child abuse" is wrong, no one would be thinking me too outspoken or rude for taking a stand about "doing the right thing". In every other situation we would all agree that telling the truth as long as it doesn't hurt someone, is the better way. On this subject, everyone just puts on the blinders and makes excuses. But since it is a minor issue and I have said all I need to say about it I will finish here.

Jodi - posted on 03/21/2014

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I didn't say "I" felt insulted. I said the way you were putting forward your point of view was fucking rude. If you can't tell the difference between the two, then that's your problem. You're not even worth discussing this with because your goal here is to win the argument and prove how much better you are than people who don't agree with you. Just the fact that you ADMIT that you are belittling others and you are okay with that speaks volumes about your character. That is all I have to say to someone who seems to think she is a "better parent" because of her choices about Santa. "Better parent" than what, I wonder.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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I am not f******** rude, I am f******** honest. I don't excuse the mean kids for bad behavior any more than I excuse parents for setting their kids up with lies. It is great to be "open minded" and yay for you for accepting both options as equal, but I do not see them as equal and I do think that honesty IS BETTER PARENTING. I would not have changed from a solid tradition without good reason. The funny thing in all your posts that don't like my approach is that you still have never admitted that honesty is better. If you had at least done that I would have at least respected your character if not your intelligence. If you find it insulting that I question your intelligence, I am sorry, but it has been my experience that the people that take the most offense to my stance are people who are pretty passive minded and accepting of things that more intelligent people with PHD's and research experience are more willing to question. No there has not been any research done on the subject that I know of but it doesn't take a study to decide that being honest with your kids is better than lying. And I apologize if my approach offended you as your swearing offended me, but people getting mad at me for being honest and belittling it as making something minor seem so horrible kept me from holding back on some of my honesty. Jodi said- " Please, I'd hardly say it was a lie. It is some fun, some magic and a little bit of an illusion. If your kids won't trust you just because of this little piece of childhood fun enjoyed by most children in our society, then that's more a reflection on you than on the tradition." You do not see how belittling you started out being toward us saying it was a reflection on us. You can dish it out, but you can't take it when someone does the same to you.

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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A little poem I have hung onto for many years is the following,
The world is a difficult place, indeed
The people are hard to suit
And the man who plays the violin
Is a bore to the man with a flute.
And I, myself, have often, thought
How very much better t'would be
If every one of the folks I know
Would only agree with me.
But, since they will not, the very best way, to make the world seem bright -
Is to never mind what others say but do what YOU think is right. : )

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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That is true, Jodi, and some cities, towns, have used that argument to be allowed to have the nativity in their city squares, but prayer and Bible reading are a no no. I think all of the holidays Christians celebrate have pagan origins and the only one that hasn't been reclaimed with some sort of Christian message is Halloween. I may have to seriously reconsider my celebration of Christmas, Easter, and even Valentine's Day. We stopped celebrating Halloween in the 1970's. Up until then, we used to put on some pretty scarey parties for our church youth group - at that time my husband was the youth pastor. Our youngest daughter, who wrote the piece "To my precious children.." you ridiculed, was born on Halloween, 1981. My husband said, prior to her birth, "You can have this baby on any day but Halloween." I started labor on October 30th, tried my hardest to have her before the clock struck midnight, - but alas, she was born at about 4 A.M. October 31st. The delivery nurse called her "a little witch." : ( Her name means, "victory is God's promise." On one of the darkest days of the year, when the theme is fear and to this day animal and human sacrifices still take place, God is still the victor. He promises evil and sadness and sorrow will be no more. We have free will, we can choose to do evil, but ultimately, Satan is a defeated foe....I read the back of the Book.

Jodi - posted on 03/21/2014

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And yet, it is actually a traditionally pagan holiday if you read your history ;)

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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Actually, Christmas, the holiday named after Christ - the nativity scene is not permitted in public government owned places, for the most part. Santa is welcome, though.

Jodi - posted on 03/21/2014

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I didn't address your name in my comments Sharon. It may be that I copy and pasted one of Jane's comments and it had your name in it. But I am not addressing you because you are not belittling others for their beliefs. You are simply stating how you feel about it for yourself and your family, which is fine. I actually support anyone's decision to choose how they manage this situation for their family without having to put down their intelligence or choices.

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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Jodi, why are you addressing my name to your comments when it is Jane who is posting the things you are listing as objectionable? Don't combine your response to me with your responses to Jane, please. I am saying, lying is unethical, period. Some people don't agree - in fact MOST people think it is okay.

Jodi - posted on 03/21/2014

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I have no response on the intelligence thing other than to tell you that your opinion doesn't actually count, it is merely insulting. When you can come back with a proper scientific study that demonstrates to me that the intelligence level of people who encourage Santa, Easter Bunny, etc in their children is lower than that of those who don't, then I might have respect for your opinion, but at this point, it's just fucking rude.

Jodi - posted on 03/21/2014

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"It is not a belief. You do not believe in it. It is a falsehood you set your kids up with. My kids are taught to keep it to themselves and they do. And if some mean kid finds out from his siblings or his parents about the Santa lie first and throws it in another kids face the way they do calling the other kids "babies" as I have heard at the school many times, then it is YOU who are responsible."

Actually, no, if other children are teasing a child because of what that child believes, the parents of those children are responsible for raising rude, obnoxious and bullying children. I would be incredibly disappointed in my child if they did this to another child. I can't tell you how upset I'd be at them for that behaviour. I can't believe you are justifying this kind of behaviour in a child.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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Jodi- you said "Again, this has nothing to do with intelligence. It is to do with you making a choice, just as every parent does, and choosing to go one way rather than the other. Choosing to go the other makes a person no less intelligent."

I beg to differ. It takes intelligence to see truth and to acknowledge the need for change or at least to admit that honesty is better than a lie. If you cannot admit that telling the truth is a better policy than telling a deliberate lie told with the intent of creating false illusions in a person, then I do think your intelligence may be a little lower than someone who has analyzed these ideas and can at least admit that it is an unnecessary lie that does not have to be told. Tell it if you want to. Go along with the crowd if you want. But don't expect me to admire your intelligence if you do. Yes, I think you would be a better parent if you didn't lie about Santa etc, but it does not make you a bad parent if you do. And yes, kids who know the truth about things up front and are taught to question up front, do advance in their reasoning skills faster because they are taught to question.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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I said, "Maybe one day when their kid comes home in tears from school because they have been laughed at for believing in fairy tales they will see the benefit of not setting their kids up for it."

Jodi said "Or maybe those other children should be taught to be respectful of other people's beliefs."

It is not a belief. You do not believe in it. It is a falsehood you set your kids up with. My kids are taught to keep it to themselves and they do. And if some mean kid finds out from his siblings or his parents about the Santa lie first and throws it in another kids face the way they do calling the other kids "babies" as I have heard at the school many times, then it is YOU who are responsible.

Jodi - posted on 03/21/2014

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"That is why some people get all angry with those of us who have changed our tradition to telling the truth. They feel accused."

Actually, no-one here is angry at you for changing your traditions. However, you have directed some quite rude comments toward those who did not do it your way.

"If you had read everything I had posted then you would see that I never said anyone who perpetuates the myths is a bad parent."

You're absolutely right. You didn't use the term "bad parent".

"Some people just have very underdeveloped reasoning skills and get hot and bothered when someone doesn't choose to follow the crowd."

Yet another rude and insulting assumption. My reasoning skills are perfectly intact, and I am not hot and bothered. I just disagree with your approach.....

"They might be BETTER parents in one very small way if they did not lie to them but told them up front that it was just a pretend game, but they are not bad parents. "

Actually, no, I wouldn't necessarily be a better parent. I would challenge you to ask that of my children. I actually did just ask them, and they disagree with you. This is merely your opinion, based on....what?

Jane, I have not been unsupportive of the choices you have made, because really, I actually see your point of view (I don't agree with it for MY family, but I do understand what you are trying to say). However your choice of the way in which you present it leaves a lot to be desired.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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I think I ran into about every one of the objections Dr. David Kyle Johnson PHD has in just this one post. Some people just have very underdeveloped reasoning skills and get hot and bothered when someone doesn't choose to follow the crowd. I had several people think I was "insinuating that they are bad" for lying to their kids and I had to remind them that though I think lying is wrong when it is a planned deception and that the TRADITION is "wrong" in my opinion, they are not bad for being like the majority of the population who just goes along with traditions without questioning it. They might be BETTER parents in one very small way if they did not lie to them but told them up front that it was just a pretend game, but they are not bad parents.

"It turns out, those stories about St. Nicholas and his gift giving are apocryphal—they didn’t really happen. They didn’t even really happen to the Pythagorean philosopher Apollonius, from whom the church borrowed the stories. In fact, given my research, the status of St. Nicholas as a mere historical figure is questionable. (I can already hear the hate mail rolling in.)" David Kyle Johnson PHD.

This is actually news to me because I always thought there was some basis in history for this story. But honestly, even if I continue to be honest with my kids and told them that the Santa Story is just a fun made up story it comes out the same. Gift giving is a good idea so I enjoy the pretend and the stories but I keep it pretend, I don't try to give them false illusions.

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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If the true Spirit of Christmas would be conveyed to our children, it would be in GIVING, not getting. Both Saint Nicholas and Christ are about giving. See one of the studies of the historical St. Nick herehttp://gutausse.blogspot.com/2013/12/st-... PLEASE CHECK IT OUT AND READ IT....
Let's allow children to experience the joy and wonder of giving to the less fortunate..children and families in your area who are needy. There are many ways to do that...serving at a soup kitchen, giving to community programs that collect gifts for needy children, where you select the name of a child and then go shopping for that particular child who has sometimes listed specific needs/wants. In churches, "Project Christmas Tree" is one or "Samaritin's Purse" that sends shoe boxes filled with toys at Christmas to children in third world countries. You shop by age and gender of the children so your children can select a child that is their age. I know families who buy Christmas stockings on sale at 90% off after Christmas, as well as scarves, mittens, toys - - fill the stockings and then as a family distribute them to people in need, along with a plate of home-made cookies. To see the excitement on the children's faces who receive the stockings and sometimes tears of gratitude in the eyes of the parents far supercedes children diving into his/her Christmas stocking or ripping open presents so fast on Christmas morning that they don't even know REAL joy...just substitute temporary happiness. Yes, you can do both. We buy into the commercialism spirit, fight each other tooth and nail at the day after Thanksgiving sales, etc. etc. Think about it, and ask yourselves, what character qualities are we teaching our children? Greed, selfishness, deceitfulness in the name of imaginative fun, or rather in giving and the wonder of a 6 sided snowflake and the imagination and creativity when building a snowman or snow sculpture, the exhilaration of sliding down a hill on a piece of cardboard...there are just too many options to illicit imagination in children without it being built on a lie.

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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The fun is the same as if you explain Santa is not real, Cinderella is not real, Spiderman is not real, but we can dress up and PRETEND anyway. Where is the difference in the fun and imagination WITHOUT LYING??? That's what I am trying to say. "If you put your tooth under your pillow, in the morning you will find a surprise." Child wakes up, checks under their pillow and finds a quarter. "How did that get here?" she asks. "Mommy and Daddy put it there." "HOW did you do that?" "You'll have to try and figure it out." : ) That is how my daughter handles it with her kids...still fun, still a mystery, and still, a quarter! Wah lah!

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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I don't think anyone here is a "bad" mother. We all love our children and do the best we can to raise them. I do not believe in lying, period. I used to have a problem with that...it'd just roll out my mouth without hesitation. For example, a friend might ask me to do her a favor, then I'd forget, and she'd ask me if I had done it yet. I said, "Yes" when in fact, I had forgotten, and then went out and immediately accomplished the favor for her. I believed lying was wrong, and I knew I did not HAVE to lie. I could have said, "Oh, I am so sorry. I forgot! I'll do it right now." And so it goes, we do not HAVE to lie. Lying to our children just seems like we are teaching them it is okay to tell untruths...we who are there to set an example.

Sharon - posted on 03/21/2014

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Did any read or want to respond to the post I put on here about what Dr. David Kyle Johnson had to say about the "Santa Lie"? As I said, since he is an atheist, he would also include "The Jesus/God Lie" - But I thought he had some interesting things to say and he addressed the objections to his belief that the Santa Lie is a bad idea -
To lighten things up a bit, and Dr. Johnson would like this:
A few years ago I was visiting a church and before the sermon the pastor had the Sunday School director come up to tell the children in the congregation a story. She gathered all the children up front and was teaching a story about praying and making your requests known to God, and how God might answer...either "Yes," "No," or "Wait." The lady went on to try to illustrate when God might say, "No." "Say, for instance, you asked God for a pony right now, right here in church. He wold probably say, 'No' because the pony would make a mess in the church, doo doo etc." A little girl raised her hand. The lady said, "Yes, Anna, do you have a question?" "Not really. I just think I'd ask Santa for the pony."

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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My insinuation is directed the the tradition of lying, not at people for perpetuating it. Most people in any culture are followers and take comfort in what is familiar and love tradition and there is nothing wrong with that. But in all honesty, if we look closely at the tradition it is flawed, but usually harmless. So that is why I say do what you want. If I really thought you were a bad parent I would be saying to stop immediately, but my parents were good parents for the most part, especially my Mom and I don't resent them for telling me that Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were real. I know their hearts were in the right place. And I am certain every mother's is in the right place on this issue. We all love our kids and just want them to have happy childhoods.

A - posted on 03/21/2014

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Yes I do lie. And no you may not have said those words, which is why I never said you say we are bad, you insinuate.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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I am glad it turned out good for you and no one ever said anyone was bad for perpetuating a long standing tradition. Just that some of us choose not to. As for lying, anyone who says they have never lied is a liar and since you lie to your kids we know that is not the case. Unless you have never lied by your own statement, you also cannot be trusted. If you had read everything I had posted then you would see that I never said anyone who perpetuates the myths is a bad parent. Do what you want. I just came her to show support for other mothers who like me, started a new tradition and it turned out great and we don't regret it. My parents raised me to believe in Santa, and when I learned the truth, from them, in the nicest way possible, I was hurt, felt like a fool, but I got over it. I was not permanently damaged but it did raise some caution in me about believing everything adults tell me which in some ways was a good thing. But as an adult raising my own kids I just thought, "Why lie? Why not just enjoy it as pretend? Why create a false reality only to strip it away later?" So I tried it, it worked out great and I support any other mother who makes that choice. I also support mothers who choose to continue the tradition because I completely understand that some people revel in tradition. To each his own.

A - posted on 03/21/2014

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My parents also raised me to believe in Santa. When I found out the truth, they sat me down and we talked and guess what today as an adult I turned out fine! I don't think it is a big deal and for those who choose not to have their children believe in Santa (etc.) to insinuate that those who do are bad parents who just lie to our kids is wrong on your part to judge us. And btw if you openly admit you lie to your sister for whatever reason you have no place saying we are bad because we lie. Now that you admit to being a liar I can't take you seriously.

Dmorbito - posted on 03/21/2014

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Haha! Keep going!!

Last time I checked I read the questioned that was stated above, I answered the question (you two) wanted to gain up on someone without looking at another person views. ( because you feel it's wrong) Then decided to not only judge but to make matters worse. It's a questions for all it didn't state on here to be a set in stone, nor did it state to tell your children the truth, or was there was no question that had asked would I make a changed no! It simply asked if it was ok ect. I made my statement but to you it wasn't good enough, only good enough to point the negative issues you have on the subject. If you wanted to show support it should with all not just outside the box. That shows a lot but has failed here. Making it only worse by saying what you said, So no it's ok to lash out on another person because of how they feel about it or Because I choose not to tell my child the truth yet? Or how they feel about it? Just because I may not agree with your views or mine but each to it's on, And no I won't leave a debate form because I feel the way I do? I got shamed on because I allow my kids to, your mad because people don't like to tell the truth well am mad because people think am wrong for not telling the truth.. It's a right or wrong either way! Like I said that's not what the question that is stated above says. But I should be therapy? Am not the one that is angry over it regards of truth or not. Or tell people to leave.. So thanks

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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Lol! The US Government? No one is trying to remove the holiday silly, my kids and I love the holiday! I would hate it if there were no Christmas. But my kids and I enjoy all these things without the lies. It is just an option. It is just something some of us have found to be very freeing that we wanted to share with others, to show support for thinking outside the box and starting a new tradition in your family. If you want to great. If you don't I don't care. And if there is anything I am angry about, it is just that people are mad at us for telling the truth to our kids. If you can't see how messed up it is to be mad at people for being honest with their kids then you shouldn't be at a debate forum, you should be in therapy.

Dmorbito - posted on 03/21/2014

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Haha!!

Last time I checked Lies are lies! Get over it! Its the parents RIGHT to choose to do this let them. Just be quite that's all! It's not yours or anyone else JOB to judge or change what others want to do with there life. You can try all you want to remove as many white lies buts it's NEVER going to happen point blank. The US government won't remove it! You can complain, debut, protest with your white signs whatever you want it's NOT going to happen. No amount of a discussion on a website will change that. Because well your just a person behind a screen just like I am voicing each other's thoughts. What happened to oh being supportive towards one another? I guess not! You guys should find other (lies) to protest am sure there's plenty but hey you guys have a big book right? Lol!

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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Ana-p.s., Choosing your words wisely? You mean choosing your lies wisely. I am choosing my truths wisely. No matter how skillfully you parent, and no matter how good your intention is, the Santa lie is still a lie, and an unnecessary one at that.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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That is just it, Ana, my children have NEVER had their dreams shattered. I never set them up for it with a lie. My children don't tell other kids the truth. You know who does shatter dreams? The kids who believed in Santa, found out the truth, and then have to shove it in the faces of the kids who don't know yet. Only once did one of my children let it slip and she was just being honest and didn't realize it would upset someone. But when you come down to it what you are saying is that if my child, with good intention told the truth and shattered someones myth, it would be worse than the initial lie that set them up for it? No. That is a** backward. And that is the point of those of us here who are trying to remove one more unnecessary set of lies from our society. People are getting mad at us for telling the TRUTH. When you are pissed at people for doing the right thing, there is something wrong with the way you are thinking. We are not the liars. My children have all the wonder and magic they need in reality and I feel sorry for people who need fairy tales to be happy.

Dmorbito - posted on 03/21/2014

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Are you? Choosing words wisely must not be your in your vocabulary. I don't see why so many people want to change traditions, I mean what's it's monkey see monkey do? Apparently.. Am sure if anyone wanted to to hear the truth they would ask. Not everyone comes from the same culture, I come from a completey different useless culture as you so generously pointed out.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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Ana - "So there.." What, are you 12 years old? My point was that people that lie about Santa and such to their children do it with good intentions. Like me not hurting my sister's feelings is a good intention. Some lies are a kindness. I think some people who enjoyed the lie as a kid feel it is a kindness to give them a few years of "magic". But I believe in showing them REAL magic. A butterfly coming out of a chrysalis and the really amazing things and unknowns of this life. That is just my opinion.

If you really believed in the fairy tales and told your kids about it, it would not be a lie. You don't believe, you know it is false and that they will find that out one day, therefore, no matter how good the intention is, it is a lie and yes I do see everyone's justification for these lies in the perpetuation of traditions. Traditions are the hardest things to alter in a society. People hang onto them tooth and nail like a security blanket and certainly no one wants to be told they are doing something "wrong". That is why some people get all angry with those of us who have changed our tradition to telling the truth. They feel accused. Understandable. Among useless traditions in our culture, perpetuating the Santa myth and Easter bunny is the least of my worries. But it is not going to stop me from, being honest with others about it in a debate forum.

Dmorbito - posted on 03/21/2014

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So there for your justifying me as a lier, over a tradition? ( just saying) But you lie sometimes? No a lier is a lier you can't justify a lie over something as simple as a dress. Or we all lie sometimes? No That's unrelavent, People can't justify someone being a lier over believe in fairy tails or believing in something that is not real, when therefor you can't be honest with another person by telling them the truth, people shouldn't say that people are a liers in believing when therefor they can't be honest or even tell the truth. It would be completely different if we ALL told the truth and were HONEST! And yes I know what the concept is, and what's it's regarding. This is where choosing ones words wisely comes into play :) everyone has there own way in parenting, I have mine you have yours blah blah.. That's nice your children are smart and so is my son, he is smart, and well adjusted as well, that did not come from telling him the truth over a holiday, it's called parenting. I won't set my children up for dissapoinment because I know they had a wonderful childhood I didn't rob then from that, if they want to believe alrighty, I just hope when it comes down to it I wonder how many other parents feel about hearing that your child shattered there whole dreams because of that? Leaving another child broken and crying but that's ok, that's fine because you told the truth and that's all that matters LOL Ok!!

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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Jodi said, "And I will say, some would suggest you were lying to your children by pretending Jesus was real.......I'm not saying that, I'm saying some would."

There is a difference between really believing something to be true and sharing what you really believe with your kids, and telling them a falsehood deliberately.

I just tell the truth the best I know how (I don't promote religion) and I teach them to think for themselves and to see truth for themselves. But there was a time when I was religious that I did teach about things that I no longer believe, and so I had to go back to them and correct the error.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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PS: Not one of us here ever called anyone a bad parent for lying about Santa and the Easter Bunny. You may be a liar, but not a bad parent. We all are liars sometimes, "Does this dress make my butt look big?" I am asked by my sister. She LOVES the dress, paid tons for it, and thinks she looks great and I can tell the question is actually a fish for a compliment and not a real question. Do I tell her the truth? "Honey, your butt is huge. Everything makes your butt look big." or do I just be kind and say, "You look FABULOUS!" ? I lie. Some people don't really want the truth. But I think if your kids had an understanding and a choice at such a young age, they would choose the truth.

What we are talking about here is opening your mind to a new concept, a new way of doing one more thing honestly because you can and it doesn't hurt anyone. A tradition is like this. A mother shows a daughter how to cut the end off the ham bone before cooking the ham. The daughter asks "why do we cut the end off the ham bone?" Mom says, "It is how my mother taught me." So the daughter asks the grandmother, "Gramma, why do we cut the end off the ham bone before we cook the roast?" and Gramma replies, "because it is how my mother taught me." So the daughter goes to the Great Gramma and says, "Great Gramma, why do we cut the end off the ham bone before we cook the ham?" and Great Gramma replies, "Because my pan wasn't big enough."

In other words, some things we do traditionally are not necessary. We just do them because they have always been done. We just accept them. And then along comes one person smart enough and curious enough to ask why, and they find out they don't really need to follow that tradition. That is who we are. We are the daughters who asked why, and found out there is another way.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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Jodi, if the worst thing a parent ever did with their kid was lie about fairy tales I would be thrilled. Parents have been using fairy tales to manipulate the behavior of children for centuries. If not Santa and the easter bunny then it was the boogie man or whatever. "Be good or...." I mean, lets face it, some desperate parent out there found a way to finally get Johnny to fly straight by scaring him into good behavior thought, Wow, I gotta share this with other parents this works great! And so on and on it went with people just trying to get their kids to behave and then in time it got softened to just "good fun" and watching the wonder, and people play down the bad side (no gifts if you are not good etc) and nobody thinks parents are bad parents for having done it ever. Anyone who has raised a kid can understand why parents do it. But there are other ways, better ways and I choose those ways.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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Ana, My children use their imagination just fine, and guess what, they have always known the difference between what is real and what is not. They also are happy and smart and well adjusted and have thanked me for telling them the truth. We enjoy all the holidays and they have always gotten excited about them without ever having to lie to them. Children can have very healthy imaginations and still know what is real and what is not, even at age 3. My son would mess with me when he was two and a half pretending things were real (long story but it had to do with him saying there was a plane on the ceiling) and I would try to correct him and then after a while he would bend over laughing and say "Gotcha!" I did not ever do this to him, and neither did his dad, he was just a stitch and loved to mess with us. Do what you want, but be aware that there is another way, and one of your kids may be the one to start a new tradition as I was in my family because they may be the one to decide it is never worth it to deliberately set kids up for a disappointment.

Jane - posted on 03/21/2014

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when it comes right down to it sharon, the people that say it is not wrong will never change because if they don't see it as wrong after all this evidence and lets face it, they are incapable of learning from others. If someone told me new info on something I had been doing my whole life that was backed up with all these people's stories I would consider it part of my new "experience" and would make a decision based on it. The people that keep hanging onto their own experiences and rejecting the testimony of others and keep defending being lairs are too proud to change. Let them lie and have gullible kids who get laughed at by the smart kids who know the truth. Maybe one day when their kid comes home in tears from school because they have been laughed at for believing in fairy tales they will see the benefit of not setting their kids up for it. Until it is their own experience they will just keep rejecting it. It is like a neighbor I had who owned geese that would attack me when I went outside my own house in my own yard. I would tell her it was a problem and ask her to do something about it but she would just laugh and say, "oh they are not all that bad." Until one day I looked out my window to see her being attacked at her clothesline by her geese and swatting and running a screaming and the next day, those geese were GONE. Some people are just that lame.

Dmorbito - posted on 03/21/2014

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Honestly I know it might be (fibbing) but I know that I can explain to my children why I did it. All children have an imagination, Imagination is necessary for learning about people and events we don't directly experience, such as history or events on the other side of the world. For young kids, it allows them to ponder the future, such as what they want to do when they grow up. parents who choose not to introduce or encourage the belief in fictitious characters, they should look for other ways to encourage their children's imaginations, such as by playing dress-up or reading fiction. Ideally, the child will find out for him or herself, like a little scientist. I know that at the end of each day my boys are happy, using there imaginations, being a child. I don't see myself or my brothers/ sisters harmed by this fib, at the age of 3 a child can understand the concept of what is real and what isn't, until they are about 7 and so fourth. In all honesty if these things that people wish not to have there children believe in then don't celebrate it, simple just (don't) apply your self or your family to it. There are plenty of harmful things in this world that can damage a child, a lot worse then believing in Santa or the Easter bunny. Not every parent is perfect, getting rid of one thing then doing another doesn't justify a good parent. Apparently these ( lies) have been going on for years! Am sure back then people didn't say how bad that parent was, or how it's so bad for there children's development. I have grown to see with this new age social awareness people have taken some things that are so simple and made it in to horrible things. But so what I allow my family to believe so am a lier? Believing in something never changed me as a person. I could care less what others think. Am not narrow minded.

Jodi - posted on 03/20/2014

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But see, here is the thing. No-one is saying anyone is a bad parent for not lying to their children about these things. That's my issue here. I don't CARE what you want to do. But stop making it out to be that people are bad parent because they DO.

Sharon - posted on 03/20/2014

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Plato on Pop
Philosophy and pop culture
by William Irwin, Ph.D., and David Kyle Johnson, Ph.D.

The Santa Claus Lie Debate: Answering Objections

Let's consider some objections to not lying to your kids about Santa Claus.
Published on December 9, 2013 by David Kyle Johnson, Ph.D. in Plato on Pop
This post is a response to Say Goodbye to the Santa Claus Lie by David Kyle Johnson, Ph.D.

I have taken a stance against the parental habit of lying to children about Santa Claus numerous times (in 2009, 2010 and 2012), and I was recently interviewed regarding my objections to the elf on a shelf. What’s my argument? It’s a lie, it degrades your parental trustworthiness, it encourages credulity, it does not encourage imagination, and it’s equivalent to bribing your kids for good behavior. (If you’d like to see an animated version of such arguments, click here.) Well, ‘tis the season—which means my inbox is filling up with hate mail again. (As you can imagine, my argument generates some vitriol. If blog views are any indication, it’s almost as controversial as gun regulation.) So I thought I would take this opportunity to reply to the most common objections and comments that I see against not telling the Santa Claus lie.

Objection 1: So I guess we're just not supposed to tell our children any stories, let them watch any movies or read any fictional books?

No, I’m saying that when we tell our children stories, we should not lie or trick them into thinking they are literally true. I'm a huge fan of all kinds of fiction, but when my son asks me whether or not Star Wars really happened “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” I'm not going to tell him it did. I'm not even going to tell him it could have. And I’m not going to say that “Luke Skywalker exists as the Jedi in us all.” I'm going to tell him what you would tell him: it's just a story.

I'm simply saying that we should treat the Santa Claus story just like we treat all other stories—as a story. To do otherwise would be to cruelly take advantage of the child's naïveté and possibly hinder his/her intellectual development.

Objection 2: My kids run around the house pretending like they’re superheroes and princesses. So, according to you, I guess I'm just supposed to correct them and tell them they're just ordinary kids?

No. That is just imaginary play and imaginary play is wonderful. As I have pointed out before, a parent who tells the Santa Claus lie does not invite the child to imagine or play like Santa Claus exists, but to believe that he really does. These are two completely different things.

If your son was running around the house with a towel tied around his neck claiming he could fly because he was Superman, you would say "that's great." You know he's just pretending. However, if he climbed out on the roof and started claiming this, you would correct him quite promptly. You don't want him really literally believing that he can fly.

Objection 3: Yep, I guess we should just never lie to our children and introduce them to the dog eat dog nature of the real world and let them be eaten alive as soon as we can.
!

This is just a strawman of my argument—or perhaps a slippery slope objection. Obviously, the fact that certain lies are not okay to tell your children doesn’t mean that it is never okay to lie to them, and the fact that we should tell them the truth about one thing (e.g., Santa) doesn’t mean that we should tell them the truth about everything.

Objection 4: I encourage my children to believe in Santa, and keep them believing for as long as I can, because it makes them happy, just like it made me happy when I was a kid. We all believe in things that don’t really make sense because they make us feel happy and comfortable.

No we don’t. This objection actually helps me make my point. I’ve been struck my how many parents think it’s perfectly fine, even for adults, to believe something is true simply because one wants to—because it’s comforting or fun. And they even admit they think this because this is why they believed the Santa Claus lie as a child. When I say that the Santa Lie encourages credulity, what I mean is that it encourages the formation of belief based on convenience, rather than good reason and evidence. (And the reason I’m concerned about credulity is because of its dangers.) The more hate mail I receive, the more I’m struck by how many adults still have childish belief forming habits—and the more I’m convinced that the Santa Lie is a major contributing factor.

Objection 5: So according to you I'm a terrible parent. Who are you to judge? It's just a matter of parental preference.

No, I'm not saying you are a terrible parent. Whether or not you are a good parent depends on multiple factors, and I have no idea how you size up. And, in all honestly, if you love your kids and do your best, you’re probably a good parent. But not everything is a matter of preference. Some parental practices are worse than others, and if you want to be the best parent you can be, you should probably consider giving up the Santa Claus lie and/or the elf on the shelf.

Objection 6: So I guess my children are supposed to turn out to be idiotic moral monsters? I believed in Santa and I turned out just fine.

No, I'm suggesting that lying to your children about Santa and the elf on the shelf risks stunting their intellectual and/or moral growth. Will it do so necessarily? Of course not. Your children don't take to heart everything you teach them. But it's a risk—one that's not worth taking.

And the fact that you believed in Santa and "turned out fine" is not evidence that doing so is not risky. I did too, and I am the opposite of credulous. But that's just an anecdote; anecdotes are not good evidence. The fact that my grandfather survived WWII doesn't mean serving in WWII wasn't risky. The fact that you didn't carry the habit of credulous thinking encouraged by the Santa Claus lie into adulthood doesn't mean that your children won't.

(And no, I'm not equating the dangers of war with the dangers of the Santa lie. That was just an example to show the shortcomings of anecdotal evidence.)

Objection 7: Why do you want to take Santa out of Christmas? You're ruining all the magic, fun and excitement. And kids needs such things, especially in times like these.

I'm not suggesting that the Santa myth be removed from Christmas. I'm suggesting that we should no longer teach our children to believe it’s literally true. Tell your children you're going to play a game where you pretend that Santa is real—that's plenty magical and fun. And there's plenty of other ways to create magic and fun at the holidays.

Besides, I’m not sure that literally believing the lie is what creates all the fun and excitement—it's more likely the presents. Give your children the choice between (a) believing St. Nicholas literally exists and will stop by with nuts, candies and fruit (like he used to) or (b) just you giving them an Xbox—and see what they choose.

And “especially in times like these”? It’s very common for people to believe that they live in times that are “worse than normal”—usually people believe they live in the worst time of all. This is why people have been predicting that we live “in the end times”—for the last 2000 years. This is because people are aware of the atrocities of their own times, but not those of others. In reality, the time in which we live has the least amount of disease, violence, war and crime than any time in history—especially in the first world.

Objection 7: I use the lie to teach children critical thinking principles by encouraging them to figure it out for themselves.

I'm not sure I really object to this. Again, I have no objection to playing the "Santa game"—pretending with your children that Santa exists—as long as you never encourage them to literally believe it, don’t lie to them when they ask, and encourage them to figure it out for themselves.

I suppose things could go wrong. I've collected some stories from some parents whose kids won't stop believing Santa exists even though they are told otherwise. But, given what children hear at school, that could happen regardless of whether you play the game or not.

At the least, such an approach is completely different than trying to keep kids believing as long as you can with lies, tricks, fake evidence and magic explanations. If you avoid all that, you’re doing well!

Objection 8: If it’s not okay to teach your children to believe in an imaginary being like Santa, why is it okay to make them believe in an imaginary being like God?

It wouldn’t be, if we all knew that God didn’t exist with the same certainty that we know that Santa doesn’t exist. Notice that, if you don’t believe in God you wouldn’t teach your children to believe in him. Why would it be different with Santa?

Objection 9: I don’t say the elf is watching and reporting back to Santa, I just put the elf in different situations and let the kids find him in the morning.

Interestingly, this objection differentiates between two elements of the elf on a shelf tradition. There’s the “be good, he is watching, and if you are good you will be rewarded” aspect. Then there is tricking them into believing that he’s alive and walks around the house at night, getting into trouble. Some parents recognize the dangers of rewarding children for merely not misbehaving (which is different than punishing them for bad behavior). Children should think they are expected to behave—that it’s normal and not an occasion for lavish reward—and should do so for its own sake. Some parents even think that gifts should be unconditional—an expression of love—and never a bribe. (Honestly, think how much healthier the Santa tradition would be if he gave you gifts simply because “he loves you regardless”—instead of because “you didn’t misbehave.”)

But the same parents may believe it is okay to make kids believe the elf is engaging in shenanigans. Here’s the thing: just like with Santa, there seems to be nothing wrong with playing the game—pretending that Santa and the elf is real—as long as the kids know it’s just a game. Make the elf build an igloo, eat the milk and cookies—but don’t encourage them to believe that any of it is literally real.

Objection 10: I tell my kids about the real Santa—St. Nicholas. He gave gifts to kids, so parents just continue on the tradition.

It turns out, those stories about St. Nicholas and his gift giving are apocryphal—they didn’t really happen. They didn’t even really happen to the Pythagorean philosopher Apollonius, from whom the church borrowed the stories. In fact, given my research, the status of St. Nicholas as a mere historical figure is questionable. (I can already hear the hate mail rolling in.)

Objection 11: Won’t teaching children that their parents lie to them, actually teach them to distrust authority and what others tell them—and won’t that turn them into critical thinkers?

Perhaps, but you can also do this without lying to them and children need to trust their parents, especially in their early years. Besides, what better way to teach them to distrust authority and what others tell them (but also main parental trustworthiness) than by telling children that, even though Santa isn’t real, everyone else in the world will try to lie to them by insisting that he is.

Objection 12: Where is your scientific evidence that The Santa lie promotes credulity?

I’d love some, but Santa is such a sacred cow, no one has ever bothered to do the research. But not every argument has to be scientific to be a good argument. I don’t need a series of studies to know that exposing my child to proper English, even before he can talk, will positively affect his language skills—or to know that exposing him to improper English will have a negative effect. Likewise, if I want to my child to grow up forming reasonable beliefs for good reasons, I need to expose him to such reasoning even before he is able to do it himself, and encourage him to partake in such reasoning whenever I can. Doing so raises the probability that he will have healthy reasoning skills as an adult. I don’t need a study to know this is true.

Objection 13: I don’t want my child to not have any friends at school.

There are other ways of dealing with the fact that many of your child’s friends believe. If you are playing the game with them, just have them play the game with their friends too. Or, just have them say, “at our house, Santa is pretend.” Besides, sometimes the right thing isn’t easy. Suppose you’re a vegetarian; would you pack your child a turkey sandwich so his friends won’t make fun of him? Suppose you’re an atheist. Would you teach your child that God exists?

Objection 14: Finally! We don’t teach our children to believe in Santa, the elf, or anything like that. And I’m so tired of our friends saying that we are bad parents because we don’t lie to our children! I’m so glad to finally find someone on our side—someone who articulates so clearly why it’s such a bad idea.

Okay, so this isn’t an objection—but I had to include it to show that not everyone disagrees with me. In fact, you’d be surprised how many such emails and comments I get. If you don’t tell your children the Santa-Lie, you are not alone.

--

Don’t see anything like your objection here? Feel free to email me (davidjohnson@kings.edu) and I’ll add it to the list.

Want to yell at me live? I’ll be on the Brave Hero Radio podcast, talking about many aspects of Christmas, on Dec 14, 2013.

Copyright 2013

David Kyle Johnson

Sharon - posted on 03/20/2014

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Dr. David Kyle Johnson, an atheist who is a professor at the Catholic institution in Pennsylvania, King's College, follows up objections made to his article on Psychology Today website http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/plat..., as follows: (I am guessing he might have added, "Say Goodbye to the Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Jesus Lie" but here is what he writes...see my next post...

Jodi - posted on 03/20/2014

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LOL at my lack of experience, Jane. My children are not young, and no longer believe in Santa Claus. I am not a young mother. Has it occurred to you that there may actually be cultural differences here, as in, I don't live where you do and therefore your views and my views will never be the same? Has it occurred to you THAT may be why my experiences are very different to yours, but no less valid?

I have not made any assumption about anyone here. I have also not made any judgement about your choice. I am merely saying there is nothing WRONG with allowing your children to believe.

And please don't tell me what I am feeling or why. That's just rude. As are the MANY judgements you made about me, personally, in your posts.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/20/2014

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I have been struggling with this exact issue since I had kids. I have never really played up the Santa angle, my son and daughter started believing due to advertising geared towards children. BUT I did not truly discourage it. We talk about why we celebrate Christmas, and who the real St. Nicholas is and what he did. We do wrap presents differently from "santa" so we are indeed letting them believe. Every year I struggle with it though.

I don't do the Easter bunny.

Sharon - posted on 03/20/2014

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How do you see and mend a broken spirit? You can see it by the reaction of the person... This happens in life by the outside world, but what parent would willing inflict this on their own child - to set them up for a let down?

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