Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lying to our children

Christmas is around the corner, and for those living in Northern Hemisphere, Santa Claus will soon be ubiquitous – in malls, in churches, and so on. Here in Bongo, we call him Father Christmas. I just have a couple of questions: Is it really morally acceptable to tell our kids that Santa Claus exists? We know that this is a complete lie. Are we not supposed to be completely truthful when kids are concerned? Or should we make exceptions if a lie makes a kid happy? When a child find out that Santa actually does not exist, and that the parents have been all along lying, what lessons are we teaching this kid?


Anonymous said...

I think your question is misleading and prejudicial. From time in memorial the older generation has passed to the new generation wisdom through parables, stories, sayings etc.

Some of these stories are pure lies and beyond the realm of possibility.

Lakini kuanzia kina Aesop na wenzao na hadithi za jadi za kiafrika watoto wamefundishwa maadili na hekima kwa kutumia picha za mifano, alama katika hadithi n.k

Sasa Santa anakuja vipi? Santa ni alama ya kitu kikubwa zaidi. Kwa bahati mbaya sana katika nchi kama Marekani Santa has turned out from that figure that represent love, kindness, caring and self-giving.

So the person of "Santa" is beyond reality. The ideas that he represent though are existential and timeless. So, Santa as a symbol of those ideas he exist.

It is the duty of the parents then when speaking of the man Santa they have to move their little ones towards those ideas.

So, if a parent is saying Santa exist and he/she stops there then that is a tremendous disservice to the little ones.

A parent has to tell the truth to his/her kid/s but the manner and ways of telling this truth is totally his.

Anonymous said...

I think this "Santa" isssue should not even be discussed in Tanzania. "Santa" is a westernized figure and i think that is where he should stay, if you happen to live in America or any other western country then discuss the "Santa" issue, but if you live in Tanzania santa should not even come up in discussions. you want to tell me that the kid you lives in dodoma know who santa is? yea i don't think so. i don't know why people want to act like americans. i live in america and i act like a tanzanian and that makes me stand out in more ways than one otherwise i will be just another black person here.
we should be proud of our traditions and that includes not having a santa, our parents didn't.

Anonymous said...

I think Mwanakijiji accusing January a prejudice, thats sound a very strong statement to make against anyone! Why would you make that! Prejudice based on WHAT exactly ? and WHAT DO YOU REALLY MEAN ?

If I am telling you that, Christmass has now been a franchise rather than religious on most of developed western countries, would I be prejeduce on your analysis, despite the fact the statement proven to be true ?

Please broden my perspective on this matter ?

Mwanakijiji no disrespectfull, based on your comment, what are you trying to say ?? Despite relating the story to older generations, thats in itself does not mean that our ancestors are purely correct and didnot lie, although they intend to pass the wisdom to the younger ones as you put it.

You go on to say
A parent has to tell the truth to his/her kid/s but the manner and ways of telling this truth is totally his.
?? Therefore lying to tell the truth??, ie. If I say to my kids Santa is comming tonight, and he will leave gifts by the lobby of my house ! would that be a lie and a wisdom of GIVING, and caring on your perspective ?

To be a wise man you didn't need to lie to anyone! that my personal understand.

HAPPY CHRISTMASS to every one!

By Mchangiaji

Anonymous said...

I am grateful to all who have contributed in this issue. Let me start with lie children.I don't suggest and encourage lie to children because if they realize that their parents are lie, they will not respect and trust them more.Also, what parents talk/speak to their children, they keep them in their mind and even apply in real life.Good example:Small boy used to suck his thumb. His mother was not happy thereby, she told him that he would have swell his stomach if he would continue sucking his thumb as trick of trying to ban that behaviour.One day that small boy with his mother and father at Market, he saw pregnant woman and shouted that "I know why she has big stomach".His parents asked him "what is that?"
The small boy confidentially answered "She used to suck her thumb." It was shame over parents but that is harvest of lie.Therefore, don't lie to your children.
Next, I think asking question does not meaning deceiving as Mwanakijiji argued.January, what to hear from us as Tanzanians. My opinions, Christmas is still regarded as the big religious and governmental day in our country. But the way it is regarded is differnt by Tanzanian depending on their belief matter.Let us learn and adapt useful things from abroad for our development.This is golbalization time,no real island in the world which can live without interaction with others particularly America and Europe.
Those are my views.

January Makamba said...

Thank you all for commenting. Kwanza, it seems to me kwamba Mwanakijiji has made his call about two "competing" values: (i)to teach our kids about love, caring, kindness, etc, and (ii) to teach our kids about truth-telling.

Kwa mujibu wa maelezo yake, it is okay to forgo one value (the lesson of truth-telling) in order to advance another value (the importance of caring and sharing). I do not think this is necessary. These values are not mutually exclusive in that you can teach your kids about love, kindness and sharing without having to lie to them that Santa will leave some presents at the home's Christmas tree.

Secondly, however you spin it, the Santa thing is a lie. Yes, inaweza kuwa ni an "idea" or a "symbol", but telling a falsehood with an intent to deceive a child (which some would argue as one of the greatest sins) is not the best ways to advance an "idea".

The danger of this lie (that kids will lose trust in their parents) is far more serious than the momentary joy that big old bearded white man is such sweet as to make sure to bring home some Christmas presents.

Nakubaliana na wale wanaosema kwamba this Santa thing is a Western phenomenon, but the point is broad: at what point is it acceptable to lie to our kids?

Anonymous said...

The question between tradition and truth assumes Socratic dimensions. I was talking to a friend about the inaccuracy of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US being held in November.The French Huguenots and Spaniard arrived in Florida more than 50 years before the Pilgrims of English stock, a manifestation of "conquerors writing history".

But one cannot be critical of Christmas without being critical of the more serious secretive nature of government.Can you be critical of Christmas and at the same time tolerate manufactured "National Security" secrecy a la Mwananchi Gold geared towards illegal campaign finance?

Wouldn't this be the height of hypocrisy?

Azaria Mbughuni said...

The story of Santa Claus/Father Chrismas is the work of fiction. In fact, Santa Claus and Father Christmas have been merged together, but the two have different historical background. The very date, December 25, is linked with ancient pagan traditions. How the two characters were merged and then linked to the birth of Jesus on December 25 is a fascinating story to follow. I can not help but remember the night stories I used to hear as a child. They would all start with: "Hadithi, hadith.. uongo njoo, utamu kolea." Pale zamani za kale, palitokea sungura na fisi."

No, it is not ok to tell children lies. But what if the story/lies can be used to impart important lessons? Lessons about morality, love, sharing etc?

Many of the stories I heard as a child carried meaningful lessons. The same can be said about Christams. The big man with a white beard does not exist physically. However, the spirit of "Father Christmas" exists in parents--a spirit of giving, coming together, love. That is ultimately what Christmas is about.

I was not too surprised when I discovered that "Father Christmas" was actually my mother and father. The moral of the story is that my parents spent their little, hard earned cash (late 70s and early 80s), to make me and my siblings happy on December 25. That was one day we both looked forward to every year.

I would like to pass on that spirit to my children. The conundrum, thus far is how to tell that story. Do I begin with "Hadith, hadith, uongo njoo utamu kolea. Pale zamani za kale palitokea Father Christimas.."?

Anonymous said...

Tumeacha lini kusimulia hadithi kwa sababu ni uongo? Wazee wetu walipotisumilia mambo ya sungura na fisi, au kobe na fisi, paka na mbwa au mambo ya bibi mwenye nyumba iliyotengenezwa kwa mikate n.k au ile hadithi inayojulikana dunia nzima ya "Bibi Mbwa Mwitu" walikuwa wanatudanganya?

Kwa kufuata mtiririko wa mawazo yenu jibu ni "ndiyo" kitu ambacho technically ni kweli kwani "hapo zamani za kale" hakukuwa na vitu hivyo.

Lakini sote (i hope sote) tunajua mwisho wa hadithi tulikuwa tunaulizwa "hadithi hii inatufundisha nini?" Lengo la swali hilo ni kuwatoa watoto kutoka kwenye fiction to application of morals. That is how I see Santa and that is how I have raised my little ones. Santa is story, a story that need to be told, but as a moral story it ought to move from a mere story to life stories of our little ones.

Lakini wazo jingine la kusema kuwa "Santa is Western" concept is ridiculous and unfounded. Kuanzia lini Watanzania tumeacha vitu vya "western"? Kuanzia Katiba yetu hadi majeshi yetu are all pure western concepts. Hizi dini zenyewe Ukristu ni wa Magharibi na Uislamu ni wa Mashariki ya Kati! Hatujazikana kwa sababu zinatoka ng'ambo.

Hizi suruali tunazovaa leo, sidiria wanazovaa kina mama leo hii ni mambo ya kigeni! Lakini tunayakumbatia leo hii.

Suala la filamu tunazoziangalia kuchwa kucha ni uongo wa wazi lakini tunazikumbatia na kulipa kwenda kuziangalia. Tunawapeleka watoto humo lakini hatudai kuwa ni "western".

Unless by "Western" tunamaanisha "Santa" tu!!

Hatuwadanganyi watoto wetu kwa story za Santa au hadithi nyingine, tunatumia hizo kama kile kinachoitwa "teaching moment". Kama mtu hawezi kuwafundisha watoto wake kutoka katika fictional story ya Santa (father Christmas" hayo yatakuwa matatizo yake lakini kudai kuwa tunadanganya is the most riduculous item of the day! So, go and be a Santa to your kids or play one to the rest of our kids!

NB: Mdau uliechangia na kudai kuwa nimemtuhumu January kuwa na "Prejudice" unahitaji kusoma kauli yangu. Nachagua maneno yangu vizuri.

Anonymous said...

I will talk from my religion point of view. I think lies shouldn't be tolerate no matter any circumstance. I believe on telling the truth. Kusema kwamba our ancestor told us some lies and we should countie telling our children same lies doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we do agree with you the stories are being told for number of years by our elders, but it is purely stated that it is just a fictional story or a true story, and it is told from that stand point of view. Hadithi just remain Hadithi, you cannot flip it over, and describe it otherwise, so do films are just HADITHI on record. and we all understand the definition of HADITHI.

But when we come from passing wisdom, through lie and its interpration remain as such then that it is totally a lie.
For instance, I used to be told, that "usikae kizingitini utakumbwa na shetani", and I used to believe that, yes some sort of mortal will come and take me over, but when I get older I found that, the actual wisdom was that dont sit kizingitini because thats the only passage/entrance to and outside the house, may be other kids will come in running or whichever circumstances that would result of you being injured by sitting there, and more of the same like "usikate kucha usiku", "usigeuze kiatu unamtukana Mungu", and so on so forth, and these false wisdom are being passed over and over even to adults, and even today as we speak. it really make me angry, when I found out about their true meanings.

To conclude this point is that, these are total lies and not stories(just statement) as you would want to associate Santa with Wisdom of GIVING and Caring as a story.

the point is that, most kids today, particulary in western countries, they truly believe in Santa comming from the North Pole, and distrubute gifts overnight.

I have a fine example of those kids, which were gutted to find out that, it was totally a lie, I went to college with them and they stated and feel that way. But if you ask me about Sungura na FISI, I quite enjoyed the stories, and I grew out of them(Matured) in finding that those are just stories for kids, entertaining stories, and never been angered like my fellow students when they find out about the SANTA.

You go and do your homework, and I can guarantee you will find out that, majority of then adults not happy about Santa!

I think we need to reinvent more realist Santa, of what we are trying to portray to our kids, and not the current Santa as he stands!

Just for curiousity, what is the wisdom of knowing that Santa will drop you gifts by chemney before christmass day.

By Mchangiaji

Anonymous said...

xmas, xmas trees, santa claus, easter, easter eggs, bunny rabbit are all jus fiction (jus like damn joe the plumber),lies and a sham! all of these are jus pagan rituals and have nothin to do with christianity or religion per se.

Anonymous said...

Bwana Anonymous unayedhani hakuna santa Dodoma kweli umeondoka nchini siku nyingi sana.
Mimi nimekulia Iringa miaka ya 1989-1992na kulikuwa na father christmas.

Kusema kweli wazazi wangu hawakuwahi kusema kuhusu zawadi kuteremshwa kwenye chimney wala hakukuwa na mambo ya kwenda kuongea na father x-mas to tell him your wish. Tulichojua ni siku ya krismasi huyu bwana anakuja na pipi, peremende, lawalawa etc anarusha everywhere tunazidaka na kula. It was just having fun with this big dude. Na krismas ikiisha ndo imetoka hiyo until next year. Hayo mambo ya north pole na chimney nimeyajulia ukubwani.

Mi nadhani its fun having father x-mas cha muhimu wazazi wajue namna ya kuliweka kwa watoto.

Kuhusu hadithi za zamani nazifagilia sanaaa na kusema kweli mpaka leo nasoma hadithi za panzi na mwewe, sungura na kobe etc. Hizi zilikuwa plain and clear ni hadithi na watoto wenyewe wanajua sungura wala jogoo hawazungumzi kwani si wanawaona uani kwao kila siku. Mi nakumbuka tulikuwa tunachukua mafundisho na kuenjoy hadithi hata siku moja sijawahi kukasirika eti mama kanidanganya sungura hawezi kuzungumza. Kwa wale washabiki wenzangu wa mama na mwana watakubaliana nami kabisaa. Those were good old days. Lakini kama tunaona watoto wa kizazi hiki wanamtazamo mpya basi tena itabidi tubadilike.

Mwisho nakubaliana na Msolopa Father x-mas has nothing to do with religion.