A recent blog by Tierza at Mormon Expressions deals with the problem of telling children about Santa. Tierza relates the Santa question to later questions her children will ask about religion and God.
I immediately agreed with the author’s solution—ask the child what she thinks. Upon reflection, however, I recall that “What do you think?” was essentially the answer my mother gave to my 8-year-old self—and it didn’t satisfy. I knew what I thought—and what I thought wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted positive affirmation that my thoughts were wrong—that Santa really existed—North Pole, reindeer, elves, and all.
I entertained doubts about some of the things I heard at church throughout my teens and early 20s. But— when my first child arrived, I needed certainty that I would have the help and guidance necessary to raise this perfect child. The Church provided that. Every week lessons and talks testified that God lives, loves me and my children, and answers every righteous prayer. It was a great strength in an unsure world.
In later years I’m inclined to think the testimonies heard at church are much like the positive affirmations well-meaning parents give to children about Santa—the difference being that people testifying of religious truths actually believe what they tell others.
Belief in Santa makes children happy. Belief in religious teachings comforts and strengthens many adults. Does it matter if the things we believe are literally true?