My daughter lost her third tooth last night. She is six years old. When she went to bed she put her loose tooth under her pillow expecting the tooth fairy to visit.
The tooth fairy but not Peter Pan
My husband and I are jointly raising our daughter to think for herself when it comes to superstition, holidays and festivities.
She is currently fond of five fantastical creatures- the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the easter bunny, the man in the moon and elves, because elves live in Ireland and Ireland’s real right?
I will admit to fostering the first four beliefs. As to the fifth one, I am really not sure where that one came from, but I believe as she grows older she will eventually grow out of her childhood fantasies.
Gods are not real
While my daughter looks forward to Santa Claus and opening presents on the 25th of December each year, she does not believe in the christian god, or any gods for that matter.
“Gods are not real,” she will tell me emphatically. I often hear my own voice reflected in her very anti-gods rhetoric when we discuss religions.
As an atheist, I have to ask myself, why do we encourage our child to continue with this belief in the tooth fairy? Is it wrong for us to foster it by putting coins under her pillow?
Is it just for the joy?
If I analyze this decision honestly, I have to admit to myself that part of the reason is because of the joy it brings to my daughter. The same joy I experienced at her age.
I love seeing her reaction when she finds things like the knocked over, empty glass of milk and biscuit crumbs that Santa leaves behind, the half eaten carrot the easter bunny forgets to take with him, and the coins she will discover beneath her pillow.
I am certain based on my own experience and that of other children and adults, that my daughter will one day grow out of these beliefs. If she doesn’t, I suppose I will encourage her to seek professional help.
I am aware that some atheists feel that encouraging any type of belief is wrong. I don’t think its wrong but I am open to other opinions.
For me these childhood fantasies began to fade in grade four when I listened to other children at school talking about it. My father and siblings were caught in the act of trying to trick me. No, I was only pretending to sleep. Yes, you can put those presents from Santa under the tree now.
I hope my daughter will have a smooth transition from her fantasies as she grows up. That either myself or her father or both of us will be there with her to answer her questions and to reflect fondly on her childhood memories.
In the meantime, until that day comes I want her to be able to explore her imagination and enjoy the wonderment of the fantastical festivities that a child finds delightful and entertaining.
Do you have children? What are their ‘beliefs’? How do you celebrate certain milestones or special days with them?