SHRINK RAP: IS SANTA GOOD FOR KIDS?

Our regular contributor to Shrink Rap, the indomitable  Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, has been on an email binge, sending Telluride Inside… and Out stories on topics of that might be of interest to our readers. The first was a study by the Caron Treatment Center about the consequences of overindulging at office parties. (Posted). An article by his friend Anna David, author of “Falling for Me” and editor at “The Fix” about gambling addiction and Tobey Macquire triggered another post. (Coming soon). And now a story by a CNN reporter entitled “When classmates let the secret out of the sleigh bag,” posted on Friday, December 9.

The following quote is the lead:

“When out on the playground, there arose such a clatter — because little Tommy told all his classmates there was no such thing as Santa Claus. It’s an uncomfortable scenario both the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny know all too well, and has the potential to leave parents caught like reindeer in headlights.”

Christmas Inc. plays out differently around the world.The rituals on American soil include eggnog and mistletoe, chestnuts roasting, schmaltzy tunes to sing-along like “White Christmas,” “The Nutcracker,” office parties, gift-giving, and OMG, sooo much face time with family and friends. But the one universal is Santa, who by any other name – Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle or Babbo Natale – is the secular incarnation of the holiday.

For some kiddos, to deny Santa’s existence is to take the “Merry” out of “Christmas.”

To shore up the Santa myth, back in 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) made it possible for dubious young things to follow Santa’s journey around the world by satellite on Christmas Eve. The idea, according to the CNN article, is that Santa is able to function within a unique time/space continuum.

But how should parents deal with Doubting Thomases and Janes?

Dr. Paul was quoted by CNN:
“Tracking or not, ultimately any curiosity about the folklore is an opportunity to teach children about the importance of finding their own voice and truths in the world. Explain to them that the world is a diverse and large place where people hold different views on the same topic,” he says. “And further explain that what’s important is to believe in what feels true at a particular moment in time and to hold on to it for however long as it feels honest and true.”

I asked Google the following question: “Should parents march in lockstep, speak in one voice, and tell kids there is a Santa Claus?” Do that yourself. You’ll be as amazed as I was by the diversity of responses. Some naughty. Some nice.

But how in fact does a parent explain the different variations on the theme of the Jolly Old Man spotted during the course of a day of shopping? Is it a good thing or a bad thing for parents to lie to their kiddos about Santa.? That is a decision all parents will have  to face once their children begin to think for themselves and socially engage in the world, and the question is as puzzling to me as most recipes for traditional Christmas Cake.

Click the play button and listen to an expanded version of what Dr. Paul has to say on the subject:

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