This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yes, Kitty there is a Santa Claus

Santa still comes to our house. Several years ago he brought us our Husky, Scarlet Claus. This year he brought us a 50" flat screen TV because "Scarlet said we'd been really good this year." (Our main TV had died).

When Kitty and Bear moved in (November 4th!) we told them that if you said you didn't believe in Santa Claus, he wouldn't come. This was my "subtle" way of saying do not tell your siblings if you don't believe! I have NEVER said I do not believe in Santa, and was thrilled that Bob and Ponito still believed, as far as I could tell, at least until last year.

So in therapy awhile back, Kitty confronted me on the Santa issue. She had accused me of lying to her. I said I do not lie. She said, I know Santa existed a long time ago, and that the "spirit of Christmas" still exists, but I want you to tell me that Santa Claus doesn't exist as a person now, and if you don't then you are lying to me.

The therapist confronted her and asked her to stop. I repeated my previous statements that if you say you don't believe in Santa he won't come, but other than that refused to answer. Was I wrong? Should I have told her that Santa doesn't exist? Am I lying?

She thinks children should never be told that Santa exists. That adults are lying to kids. It is so sad that she wants to deprive everyone of the joy in believing in magic probably because she didn't get to experience it herself. She assured me that none of my children believe anymore - she claims friends at school told them. She was the one to tell her little sisters that Santa didn't exist (they would have been at most 3 and 6).

I do allow the children to watch some shows and read books about witches and wizards (Wizards of Waverly place, Sabrina the teenage witch, and Harry Potter - before they got so violent), but we often talk about the fact that magic and ghosts and things are not real. I do not allow the kids, especially Kitty, to watch violent, gory, scary shows (no matter how much she begs), because Kitty seems to have difficulty processing it. You've also heard my opinions on how media negatively influences children. I try to raise my children to be respectful, responsible, honest and happy to the best of my ability.

I rarely lose my temper with the kids, and I am not a liar. The ONE time I lost my temper, was in a crabby, irritable mood with the kids and yelled at them was early on in their lives with us and I went on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication almost immediately after. This is CONSTANTLY thrown in my face by both Bear and Kitty (as an example of how it must be OK to get angry and yell since I did it).

I fully expect Santa to be Kitty's example proving that I am a liar. Kitty talks often of the two times that Bob got into a physical altercation with her - as though they happened yesterday instead of almost 2 years ago. This is her reason why she doesn't get along with Bob - because Bob is mean and hits her. Yet, both children have no memory or tolerance for us bringing up times when they lied, got physical or acted out. Their slate is wiped clean and if we use it as a reason not to trust them, then we are "holding a grudge," if the child doesn't deny it completely. That is in the past and irrelevant.

This is so frustrating. Does telling children that Santa is real make me a liar? Do I have to be perfect to parent these children? When I am not perfect, how do I convince them that this doesn't mean they can do anything they want all the time just because I did it once?!


Alyssa's Mom said...

Wow! The ultimate stressor - Santa!

I actually asked my Doctor what to tell my daughter. His response was "When you figure it out, let me know and I will tell mine the same thing!"

I finally told her this.

"If you truly believe, deep in your heart, that Santa is real, then He is."

My daughter then asked me if I believed in Santa and I could truthfully say yes!

Good Luck!

Debbie said...

What my Mom told me is what I always planned to tell my children. She said, "In this family, Santa Claus IS real, because there will always be someone who loves you enough to make Christmas magical. One day, I hope there will be children you love enough to want to make Christmas magical for them, too." Since I don't have kids (yet), I don't know how well it will go over, but it worked pretty well on me!

Anonymous said...

Wow, two great answers Alyssa and Debbie. Thanks for sharing. My kids are 13 thru 21 now so it's too late for me, but someday I'll have grandkids...

Which brings me to my answer for Mary, I think I'd tell (in your own words) that believing in Santa brings joy to this family at Christmas. It's your right as a parent to foster this joy if you want, and then add something like what Debbie said about telling your own kids what you want to tell them.

Santa was a stress in our house when the kids got to that believe/don't believe age, but now I say things like "Jesus sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake..." It's good to remember that, too.