The Santa Clause myth - good or bad?

Inspired by the thread about the teacher who told 1st graders that there is no Santa. I would like to have a debate about the Santa myth in general and leave the discussion about what the teacher did out of it.

My experience:

I decided against participating in this with my child. I saw it as lying. I was very uncomfortable with the idea that eventually she would know that I lied, for years. I did see it as harmful. Convincing her that some dude was watching her all the time and if she was good she would get gifts, then she finds out that every adult she knew was punking her.

What is your take on this? Did you make a conscious decision to participate or not?

When your kids found out how did that go?

And what was your experience as a kid? Did anyone grow up without the Santa myth?

In my view it’s not a good thing, but please don’t think I’m questioning your parenting or whatever. I’m simply relating my experience and the opinion I arrived at based on that experience. I would like to hear yours

Being the OP of the other thread, maybe I shouldn’t jump in pronto but:

IMHO it is all-around bad.

  1. Lying’s just bad, period. We already have enough fake news or disinformation/conspiracies in society; we don’t need more.

  2. Sends terrible message when rich jerks get great gifts and impoverished good kids get none.

  3. Becomes used as a straw man for religious debates.

  4. Erodes children’s trust.

Haven’t millions upon millions of kids been told that Santa is real? Any kids nowadays shooting up schools because “My parents lied to me about Santa”?

It’s harmless fun, Jeez.

First—from the late, great Polycarp: A Visit From St. Nicholouse, Or I Pit Lazy/Stupid Spellers
Now, to the thread’s question:

I, personally, do not believe I suffered any ill effects from “the Santa Claus myth.” Judging strictly from personal experience, I say “good.”


Different people’s experiences are different, and there are different ways to “do” Santa Claus, some better than others. Rather than simply pronounce it “good” or “bad,” I’d answer: “It depends on how you handle it.”

We largely just ignored the jolly fat man. We never told the kids he existed and never told the kids where their presents came from. When they asked, we told the truth. We did not correct them when not asked. For a bit the younger seemed to believe in him, the older never did.

As for good or bad, I stress honesty in my family and never lie to them even when the truth is complicated or something i would rather they not know. Santa and teeth fairy fall under the umbrella of honesty.

As long as it didn’t cause anyone to shoot up a school, it falls into the “good” column?

This makes sense. In either case, the way you handle can turn it bad or good.

This is pretty much how I handled it as well. I didn’t sit her down and tell her he wasn’t real, I just didn’t really mention it. I did have to explain that other kids believed and it would be mean to tell them. She never told other kids and in fact played along like most adults do, keeping the charade up for the benefit of other kids.

I guess I have seen both good and bad, if bad can be construed as what it could potentially do to other kids.
Santa bringing expensive gifts could lead other similarly good kids to think that maybe they weren’t all that good, simply because the parents couldn’t afford an expensive item

What I have changed in the last 10 years or so is this:

Santa doesn’t bring expensive gifts, he brings a few things that are more surprise than anything. Stocking stuffers and 4 things usually:

  1. Something you want
  2. Something you wear
  3. Something you need
  4. Something you read

Expensive gifts come from Dad.

Well, I presume none of us are experts but here is the first few studies or articles based on studies I could find.

From Live Science: Kids’ Belief in Santa Myth Is Healthy, Psychologists Say


From Health Units(?): Dispelling The Myth: Retrospective Observational Study Of Santa Claus OK, not quite sure where this one went, seems to think Santa is a positive but there is an issue for economically disadvantaged kids.

The benefit of the Santa myth is that it discourages kids from snooping around in closets before Christmas.
We never said he was real, but we also never said he wasn’t. My older daughter figured it out pretty early, and my younger daughter never believe. She said her grandfather was Santa. Which was correct, since he and I put out the presents after the kids went to sleep.
But the real benefit of the myth is that it is the first instance where kids figure out that a supernatural being is made up. And they discover that things are just fine without Santa. They can also figure out that just because everyone believes in something, and that popular culture acts like something exists, doesn’t mean that thing does exist.
The application to religion is clear.

The first time they asked, I told my kids that Santa Claus was a game grown-ups play at Christmas.

I considered telling them that Santa was originally thought to drop money down the chimney so I wouldn’t sell them into prostitution, but my wife didn’t think that was a good idea.

Merry Christmas!


My bold.

I don’t think one has to participate in the myth to get this.

We haven’t done the Santa thing with our kids. I’m not strongly opposed to it, I’m just not naturally inclined to put much effort into the story, and haven’t really felt inclined to lie about the Amazon parcels they’re not allowed to open :wink:

My family did it when I grew up, and it was fine. I can’t recall when I stopped believing. I don’t think it’s a lie in the sense of an immoral falsehood. The lesson to not accept everything at face value does seem useful, although I’m finding plenty of other opportunities to talk about that when talking with my kids.

It’s not a myth, it exists: Three of them in fact.

I tend to think of it as pretty harmless but I remember learning a few years ago that some parents really try to use it as a way to make threats and shape behavior.

That is dumb and not helpful. Your kids should behave and listen to you because you are the parent, not because of Santa.

Santa should be a good and joyous thing, not a weapon.

But it doesn’t hurt, does it?

I hope we can all agree on this one.

I think that there is a lot more impact if you had been a believer, not just an observer. An observer doesn’t have that “oh shit, I was wrong” moment. Logically analyzing one’s beliefs has big benefits. And is harder than logically analyzing someone else.

It would be one requirement to place something in the “good” column, yeah.

Modesty, do you actually think the bad outweighs the good?
I’m not religious and I find a fun little myth. Including the NORAD tracking site.
Love Miracle on 34th Street to this day.

My kids had fun with it, when the eldest learned the truth she joined the conspiracy to keep her younger brother believing. I know I had fun with it as a kid.