Santa's Gifts of Tolerance & Respect
When I was a classroom teacher, I would overhear recess conversations debunking Santa-isms among my students. There were the students who were the sources of info, there were the hard-core believers who wouldn’t listen to such blasphemy, and those who were on the fence and looking for confirmation from a reliable source! Ridden with anxiety over the outcome of these conversations, I would redirect the children and ask them to save those discussions for their families at home. I didn’t want to touch those conversations with a 39 and a half foot pole!
Whether Santa visits your home or not, chances are your family has had a discussion about the Jolly Ol’ St. Nick. Is he real or not real? Are we lying or are we creating holiday magic? Why does he visit Tommy’s house and not our house? How should we handle it when our child starts to question the magic?
This can become a highly charged topic with adults feeling very defensive of their position towards the man in red. And, rightly so. The discussion may tap into one’s emotions, reflecting on their upbringing and their feelings towards holidays and traditions. It may tap into parental instincts to protect one’s child and their feelings. Emotionally charged topics have us feeling watchful, ready to protect and defend what’s important to us!
But when I think about this in a broader light, and pull back the lens, I’m able to reframe the situation. Can there be space for everyone to have their own beliefs? Does it have to be so binary? So right or wrong?
Can there be space for everyone to have their own beliefs?
What if, instead of shutting down the conversation with my students, I had made a safe space for them? A safe space for each student to hold and honor their own beliefs while simultaneously honoring another student's position? What if I had offered space for guided conversation that would incorporate the gifts of respect, tolerance, compassion and empathy? A space where everyone could feel heard, understood and accepted no matter what their beliefs were at the time.
Think about it, which snow globe would you rather live in?
Snow Globe ‘A’ → Joey believes in Santa and thinks anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong and worries for them. Tommy does not believe in Santa and feels anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong and naive.
Snow Globe ‘B’ → Joey believes in Santa and thinks it’s ok for others to feel how they’d like because all families are unique. Tommy does not believe in Santa and thinks it’s ok for others to feel how they’d like because all families are unique.
Grab a Cocoa & Ask Yourself...
Can you reflect on your own emotions for a moment? What feelings are bubbling up for you?
Tolerance. Respect. Compassion. Empathy.
If we are not teaching our children at a young age about tolerance and understanding, when will they begin to engage these virtues? These are concepts that have to be modeled and practiced to be absorbed and lived. If we can model and practice these values with our children, we will be setting the stage for a kinder, more compassionate future for all.
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Also, click here to learn how you can prepare your mindset, get a better perspective, and be ready to handle tense holiday situations with grace and clarity!
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Rebecca Murphy, Certified PCI® Parent Coach.