This time of year, many parents encourage their kids to behave so they'll "make Santa's 'nice' list," says Krista Pfeiffer in Babble. I have to say, "admittedly with an air of righteousness," that the practice "really troubles" me. "In our home, my husband and I work very hard to encourage our kids simply to be good for — to quote a popular Christmas song — goodness' sake." We think using Santa-themed "scare tactics and bribery" to get our kids to behave undermines our authority and offers only a "pure extrinsic motivation" for good citizenship. So we don't tell our kids Santa Claus is coming down our chimney. But, guess what, they behave and enjoy the true "magic" of Christmas, just the same. Here, an excerpt:
I am not trying to pretend that my kids are saints, always behaving appropriately out of the sheer joy of being nice. Nor do I posit that children who believe in Santa are not otherwise good people. But how kids think of Santa Claus represents, for me, all that is not Christmas spirited: receiving instead of giving, greed instead of gratefulness, idle wanting instead of active contributing. And encouraging my children to write letters to him or make Christmas lists or be good because he's watching encourages all the wrong things for me. I want whatever goodness does come out of my children to be for the right reasons. I want them to be people who are simply good and kind and honest, as I try to be (well, most of the time…)
Read the full article in Babble.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 10 things you need to know today: October 21, 2014
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Paul Krugman, Amazon, and the left's backwards view of book-industry titans
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
Subscribe to the Week