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Video of Santa questioning 'naughty or nice' labels is a moving statement on mental health

Most depictions of Santa Clause fall along the traditional narrative we know and love. We see the rotund, bearded fellow making a list and checking it twice. With a twinkle in his eye, we expect him to ponder each child's behavior for the year and place them into a category—naughty or nice—to determine their deservedness in getting a gift.


Though there's obviously no jolly, omniscient figure putting children into binary categories, there are plenty of adults who do just that. If a kid doesn't conform to a specific standard of behavior, they're "naughty." If they say the right words, do the right things, and don't cause any trouble, they're "nice." Children are categorized and labeled—some good, some bad—and those labels often follow them throughout their lives.

But such a simplistic view doesn't square with what we actually know about children and behavior. Kids—and all humans, really—are not that cut and dry. People of all ages are complex, nuanced, and multi-faceted, and motivations for people's behavior rarely fall neatly into "naughty" or "nice." There's a whole range of reasons why people do the things they do.

RELATED: A huge thanks to those who openly share their mental illnesses. You saved my daughter.

That's the premise behind a new video released by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In it, we see Santa sitting on a rooftop, contemplating the categories he's used for 1000 years, in a surprisingly moving soliloquy about labels and children.

"I think I did this all wrong," he begins, before pondering how his habit of "reducing these growing, varied, intricate beings to some binary code of this or that, naughty or nice" might actually be doing them harm. "As if some kids son't have enough to worry about, only to have me judge them without context, without perspective, without any sort of doctorate psychology—honorary or otherwise."

"Did I condemn every kid who already felt like a misfit toy?" he asks. "Naughty or nice? Isn't it possible that they're nervous or nice? Uncomfortable-in-their-own-skin or nice? I'm-angry-and-I-don't-know-why or nice? My-impulses-are-beyond-my-control or nice? Hurting or nice?"

"And who can blame them?" he ponders. "With the news, the lockdown drills, the internet, the world is bearing down on them. And we expect these struggling kids to just...what? Speak when spoken to?"

"Show me an interesting, fully formed person and I'll show you a once difficult child," Santa continues, asking what would happen if we looked at kids in a whole different light.

RELATED: A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

It's not your typical Santa video, but it certainly has a magic of its own. To see children as layered beings instead of good or bad, naughty or nice, is perhaps the best gift we can give them.

Watch a contemplative Ol' St. Nick share his thoughts on the "naughty" or "nice" question, and prepare to have your feelings meter moved a few notches.

NAMI - “Naughty Or…"www.youtube.com

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

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