When Miablo was born I was still a “Christian”; if you can call it that. I had denounced the church and all forms of organized religion but I still believed in a god. Though I wasn’t entirely sure whose god or what attributes he possessed. Miablo was raised to believe in all things woo. I’ve witnessed how hard it is for her to think critically because she often times relies on faith based ideas.
I’m reminded of the time when Miablo first discovered her beloved Santa Claus wasn’t real. What devastated her the most wasn’t his non existence but rather that I had lied to her. She, understandably, felt hurt and betrayed. She made me promise on that day that if I ever had another child I wouldn’t lie to them. That meant no Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and the like.
Fast forward nearly 4 years later and we have a 2 year old who is being introduced to this world, including Santa Claus. Emiliablo has never been to church. We don’t talk to her about god, religion, or the existence of anything woo. We firmly believe that her mind should be mature before she is introduced to these ideas. We want her to be able to think critically about her position which means she needs to learn critical thinking skills prior to her exposure to theology.
Luckily for me Diablo and I are in agreement on how to raise our children. That being said the whole Santa Claus thing is rather unavoidable. He is everywhere after all! We can’t help but introduce her to the idea of Santa Claus when she is faced with his image nearly every day. So how do two atheists teach a toddler to be skeptical of the existence of Santa Claus without ruining the spirit of Christmas?
For us it’s rather simple. Santa Claus is a character just like Emiliablo’s beloved Dora. He’s no more real and just as much fun. He doesn’t sneak in to our house on Christmas Eve to leave presents. He doesn’t spy on our children all year long ensuring they are behaving when no one is watching. We don’t leave him cookies to eat on Christmas Eve or mail him a letter with our wishlist. He doesn’t possess any magical powers outside of his realm, fantasy. Life is pretty much business as usual at our home during Christmas.
Miablo recently decided that we are the acting like the grinchiest of Grinchs. She’s now decided that we should indoctrinate Emiliablo in to the believing in Santa Claus. She’s even trying her best to convince herself she believes in him. Watching her failed attempts at self delusion only reaffirms why we can’t participate in the Santa Claus lie. I know nine year olds aren’t famous for their reasoning skills but watching Miablo struggle with critical thinking skills all but breaks my heart.
I feel like she has a more to overcome than children who weren’t indoctrinated at birth. It’s really hard to describe the challenges Miablo struggles with due to her indoctrination. She takes everything and everyone at face value. She doesn’t ask questions to uncover the truth or even consider other possibilities. If someone of authority gives her an idea she runs with it as a truth. This may be fine and dandy if you are raising a sheep but we aren’t.
We want our daughters to think for themselves, including what their own parents teach them. We don’t believe that they should blindly follow the teachings of anyone. Life is full of people with beliefs and ideas and many of them want to convince you to believe in their ideas for various motivations, some of them honest and others potentially malicious.
When you take away someone’s ability to control their own destiny (by reinforcing religious indoctrination) you hinder their personal growth. It’s liberating to hold the keys to your future. By being tied to down to predestination and waiting for god’s permission to succeed you are running in a self defeating rat race, one I don’t want my children to have to endure. Many well intentioned people have sacrificed their own happiness while blindly following the beliefs of others. Life is a clean slate and I want my daughters to paint their own masterpieces.
Image Sources: http://degreesearch.org/blog/the-origin-of-santa-claus/ & http://monicks.net/2011/12/23/mixed-traditions-happy-celebrations/
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- Why Do Atheists Celebrate “Easter” And What Do They Teach Their Children? (topicspill.wordpress.com)