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Funny stuff lessdazed. I'm all for exposing her to different cultures but that one might have to wait until she's much older. ;-)

Thanks for catching that lessdazed -- I didn't realize I was falling into a potential trap. Assuming I understood you correctly, there is a huge difference between:

  1. Considering whether to keep silent regarding beliefs she's told that I feel are false
  2. Considering whether to keep silent regarding all beliefs she's told.

To only do 1. would be counterproductive given my stated goal to encourage independent thought in her. (By countering only beliefs I find false, she would just end up adopting my worldview.) And in the end, it may be best to be really careful about sharing any of my opinions with her, instead using the Socratic method to help her test hers.

Is this what you meant? (And I love your username especially as I would like to be less dazed.)

Thanks KPier -- I appreciate your comment.

I'm not convinced that I'd need to lie to her to meet your concerns. I.e., If I go forward with keeping silent, I expect she will still be exposed to Santa from daycare staff, other kids, my parents, etc. and will most likely believe in Santa and so the conflict of her beliefs being different from others wouldn't be until she questioned me about it and by that time she would hopefully be mature enough to understand how to respect others beliefs. (and she would still get to notice confusion, etc. as well)

However, without me lying to her, she would most likely come to that conclusion sooner than her peers and so that's still something to consider. However, if everyone will encounter beliefs that differ from their own, doesn't it make sense to plan with the end in mind and prepare her from the start rather than base my decision on the convenience and conventions of other people? Perhaps I am being too black and white in my beliefs and am also not taking into account what is possible for a 3 or 4 year old to learn.

With my daughter now being three (and more aware of holidays, etc.), my husband and I really need to determine our strategy for this Christmas.

Currently, I'm leaning towards: 1. not lying to my daughter, 2. and yet keeping silent if/when other people tell her about Santa, 3. using the Socratic method when she asks about Santa, and 4. encouraging her to respect others' beliefs (not run around denouncing Santa yet, if, asked for her opinion, to be honest).

For instance, even if it caused no harm, I can't justify lying to her when I want her to value honesty. Likewise, I find it conflicting to teach her to believe something false when I want her to value rationality.

One difficulty for me is, am I deluding myself by making a distinction between lying to her versus keeping silent when others lie to her? My thinking is that I will keep silent on Santa and that at some point she will notice this and question it and I will explain that I was giving her space to come to her own conclusions and exercise her own intellect.

Rings_of_Saturn: I appreciated your suggestion that there are lots of fantastic, amazing things to wonder at without having to use Santa. And Christmas can still be quite fun even if the kids know the parents are the ones putting the presents under the tree.

MBlume: "The girl believed in Santa because her mother said he was real, then disbelieved because her mother said he wasn't. Of course she cried -- she was powerless from beginning to end." That is exactly why I don't want to correct every irrational thing my daughter is told by other people -- I want her to learn to think critically, not be a mini-me accepting whatever I say as 'the truth'.

Here's a debatepedia link: Debate: Should parents trick their kids to believe in Santa Claus?

This wiki suggests tricking kids into believing in Santa:
-"promotes a model of learning based on authority and accepting irrational concepts, discouraging healthy skepticism"
-"teaches children that dishonesty at the expense of those who are gullible, like younger children, can be amusing and fun"
-"that we should believe in ideas that are rewarding with the hopes that they are true, rather than believing in them for actually being true"

Oops. I should have done a search first before mentioning it. Thanks for taking the time for posting those links.

Hey everyone,

My name is Jennifer Davies. I'm 35 years old and am married with a 3 year old daughter. I live in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Originally a computer programmer, I gave it up after spending a year coding for a bank (around 1997). Motivated by an interest in critical thinking, I earned a BA in Philosophy.

Currently, I'm completing a one year post-grad program to become a Career Development Practitioner. I plan to launch a private practice in 2012 to help people find and live their passions while providing them with the tools to do so.

A friend introduced me to Harry Potter: Methods of Rationality and Less Wrong. I have never enjoyed a piece of reading more than that fanfic -- I even saved a PDF version to introduce to my daughter once she's able to benefit from it.

My main motivations (that I'm aware of) for becoming a member of this community are to: improve my thinking skills (and better understand/evaluate values and motivations), help clients to think more rationally, better encourage independent, critical thought in my daughter.

Although it can be painful at times (for my ego) to be corrected, I appreciate such corrections and the time put into them.

Any tips for teaching young children rationality? I'm at a loss and wonder if I need to wait until she's older.