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  1. #1

    Question Questions on Lying to Children About Fiction & Fantasy: Your Experiences and Thoughts

    As a kid, I was fed the tales of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and --to a lesser extent-- ghosts, and leprechauns (and their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow). I know that there are other stories perpetuated that I may not have personal experience with, so I'll keep the language of the questions open.

    1a) Were you convinced by your elders that fictitious characters and/or events were real, as a child?
    1b) What were they?
    1c) From what age till when?
    1d) How did you find out the truth?

    2a) Do you intend to perpetuate the stories? (Or have you already?)
    2b) Why or why not?

    3a) Can this caliber of "fantasy fun" be taken too far with children?
    3b) If so, how?

    Please contribute any additional thoughts on the topic you'd like.


    I know this topic has come up in the past within related discussion, but I'd like a current roll-call of opinion on this topic explicitly.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  2. #2
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iwakar View Post
    1a) Were you convinced by your elders that fictitious characters and/or events were real, as a child?
    1b) What were they?
    1c) From what age till when?
    1d) How did you find out the truth?

    2a) Do you intend to perpetuate the stories? (Or have you already?)
    2b) Why or why not?

    3a) Can this caliber of "fantasy fun" be taken too far with children?
    3b) If so, how?
    We had just Santa, Easter bunny, and Tooth fairy when I was a child. I forget when and how I learned the truth about them. I would perpetuate at least the first two, but perhaps in different ways. I suppose this goes too far if it becomes a drain on resources (time, money), or gets taken too seriously. I think kids believe alot of things that adults recognize are not "real", or at least kids and adults have different perspectives. As an adult, Santa is still real to me, but as an idea, much like the characters in Aesop's fables. We don't throw all those out just because there wasn't an actual tortoise who raced against the hare. Perhaps kids can see characters like Santa on a continuum, on which simplistic childhood views of concrete reality ease into more mature views of symbolic reality.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  3. #3
    figsfiggyfigs
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    My parents tried feeding me these lies. I knew better than to believe them. They've always been too devious to share wonderful information so easily. Movies did a better job feeding me fabrications of a reality that housed all these false creatures than my parents ever did. There comes an age of intelligence where you stop believing in heresy and begin demanding visual and real-time proof. Religion could be an aspect to consider here.
    I do think that these stories have their reason for existence, more specifically to the benefits of the parent having more leverage. They probably also play a role in the development of a child's imagination, and the inquisitive nature of their existence( term applied generally)

    It is possible that parents relish in the stories as well because of nostalgic effect. It alsoprovides a sense of escape from the "harsh" day-to-day reality, and by telling their kids, they're re-creating that world.

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    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    I think all children deserve a little fantasy, they will grow up and learn the harsh ways of the world soon enough.
    That being said there are some things that border on the ridiculous (although i do appreciate some of the ridiculous) which really are neither here nor there.
    Imo, children are pretty good at making up their own fantasy worlds, and well go with that. I don't see it as harmful.
    Imaginary friends, fantasy worlds, magic tree's etc...all good healthy imaginative exploratory fun.
    Also i think it is important to talk to children about real and oftentimes taboo topics such as sex, discrimination, war, birth, death.
    When you have these things healthily discussed you are less likely to have grown ups who discriminate and come to strange conclusions/influences by such as the media whore machine.
    Thats my tuppence
    "We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"

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    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iwakar View Post
    1a) Were you convinced by your elders that fictitious characters and/or events were real, as a child?
    Yes.
    1b) What were they?
    Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Sack man*

    1c) From what age till when?
    Not sure. Around 7 I think.
    1d) How did you find out the truth?
    1- Santa- One day I asked for an arcade. Dad informed me santa was facing a crisis and made me chose another present. :yim_rolling_on_the_ After some time I figured it out.
    Can't remember the others...there wasn't a event to mark the transition.
    2a) Do you intend to perpetuate the stories? (Or have you already?)
    No way.
    2b) Why or why not?
    First because I can't lie long term. I'm like Sheldon Cooper when trying to keep a secret.
    Second because I don't expect a person to trust me when I'm feeding him/her with lies.
    Third because I'd want my children to get smart.
    3a) Can this caliber of "fantasy fun" be taken too far with children?
    Yes.
    3b) If so, how?
    I can see it generating phobias. A kid has to understand bad behavior should and will be punished reasonably. Intrinsically evil monsters aren't the solution.
    -----------------

    A man builds. A parasite asks 'Where is my share?'
    A man creates. A parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?'
    A man invents. A parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God... '


    -----------------

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    1a) Were you convinced by your elders that fictitious characters and/or events were real, as a child?
    Yes.

    1b) What were they?
    Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy

    1c) From what age till when?
    Probably from birth until I was maybe 8 or 9, max.

    1d) How did you find out the truth?
    School friends put the idea in my head, finally I asked my parents.

    2a) Do you intend to perpetuate the stories? (Or have you already?)
    I already did. My kids are teenagers now.

    2b) Why or why not?
    Because it was fun for everyone, them included.

    Some of our favorite family memories were when our kids had gotten older and we would still write the Santa letter with cookies, or we'd try to slip money under the pillow from the Tooth Fairy but our kids suspected / were quite sure it was us, but we were still pretending it was true, and they wanted to catch us so bad, so we'd have to outsmart them. My daughter was especially determined and very crafty (to the point of rigging threads in the doorways, etc.) but somehow we always managed to get around her traps. It was so hilarious, because she KNEW it was us; and we all knew that she knew; and she knew that we knew she knew; but we kept playing the game, and she just couldn't ever prove it.

    I think the thing is we all eventually knew the truth, and the purposeful earnestness of our tone (and the elaborate explanations we'd give them for the things they challenged us on) let them know even more for it was fake, so they found it fun instead.

    3a) Can this caliber of "fantasy fun" be taken too far with children?
    I guess so. Anything can be taken "too far" if it's clear the child is not getting something positive out of it, but the parents continue.

    3b) If so, how?
    It seems to me that it's something where, if the parent/child relationship is good, then it's a fun family game to play; if the relationship is already bad or full of deceit, or if the child is already avoiding reality because of psychological pressures in the home and school, then playing such games could confuse things further. I don't think the holiday traditions mess up kids; I think the kids have already been messed up by the parents for deeper-seated reasons and so then the games don't help.

    Anyone, our kids enjoyed it.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    1a) Were you convinced by your elders that fictitious characters and/or events were real, as a child?
    1b) What were they?
    1c) From what age till when?
    1d) How did you find out the truth?


    Not unless you count a very weird interpretation of the Bible.

    2a) Do you intend to perpetuate the stories? (Or have you already?)
    2b) Why or why not?


    My ex finds that whole Santa Clause/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy thing as an important part of childhood. I deferred to her early in the relationship, so that's what my kids experienced.

    3a) Can this caliber of "fantasy fun" be taken too far with children?
    3b) If so, how?


    The whole thing always made me feel just a little bit uncomfortable, I just let her talk and I wear a stone smile mask when they bring the subject up, and then sometimes throw in a "You'll have to ask your mother" when I get a more pointed question.

    I guess, this stuff has been done to generations of kids, with only enough damage to just barely wangst about if there isn't something more substantial in their lives to worry them. I suppose it can be taken too far, if you used one of those childhood fantasies as a real emotional support.

  8. #8
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    1a) Were you convinced by your elders that fictitious characters and/or events were real, as a child? 1b) What were they? 1c) From what age till when?
    1d) How did you find out the truth?

    My mother spent her life in early childhood education and never perpetuated these stories to us. Other people did, but I don't remember ever believing in any of them. When I was six we lived in a log cabin with a narrow stove pipe, and I knew Santa couldn't fit down there, but also wondered why he wouldn't just use the door. It didn't make sense to me. I tried to solve problems as a child and make sense of the world because we faced various hardships and I wanted to know exactly what we were facing. However, I did play imaginary games and wanted to believe "The Borrowers" were real because my sister and I made special little houses for them outside and were pretty excited when we saw tiny turds left in their bathroom. I was almost a believer then until the more probable cause made itself apparent.

    2a) Do you intend to perpetuate the stories? (Or have you already?)
    2b) Why or why not?
    I teach music lesson to children and get asked about these from elementary school aged children who are beginning to question it. I usually just deflect and say I don't know and that they should ask their parents. I don't like to create inconsistent information at that young age. I don't like presenting those stories as real, but think children could have plenty of fun imagining them as a game - that way they can take ownership of the myth and add to it if they want. Instead of having a lie imposed on them, they can play with the ideas in fun and creativity. If I had children I'd let them create their own Santa stories if they wanted and they could make them funny.

    3a) Can this caliber of "fantasy fun" be taken too far with children?
    3b) If so, how?
    It is taken too far when it betrays trust or distorts their understanding of reality. Saying it's a traditional game for the imagination can preserve the whimsy and innocence of childhood and remind children that they can create fun, wonder, and beauty in their minds by choice. That is the skill that will help them face hardship or want. The world is hard enough, which means we shouldn't be tricked, but we should learn to foster imagination in order to solve the problems we can and choose our moments of escape from the problems we cannot.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  9. #9
    Anew Leaf
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    1a: yes
    1b: Santa Claus, Easter bunny, tooth fairy
    1c: I don't really remember. Probably 7-8ish
    1d: my parents flat out told me because they wanted a break from doing extra gifts

    2a: if I ever have children, which is unlikely... Yes
    2b: everyone needs some fantasy in their life. Santa would only be bringing one gift, however. I have a friend whos husband insisted that every gift be stated as being from Santa. I think that teaches some bad lessons.

    3a: yes, if it's used to frighten children.

  10. #10

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    Some or all of the things you describe may not or are not fantasy.

    Anyway, a scientific pioneer had something good to say about this:

    I HAD rather believe all the fables in the Legend, 1 and the Talmud, 2 and the Alcoran, 3 than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore God never wrought miracle to convince 4 atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.
    http://www.bartleby.com/3/1/16.html

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