Santa might seem like harmless fun (he’s certainly jolly), but I think he’s actually bad. Bad for your, bad for your kids, bad for the parent-child relationship.
Lying to children is bad. That seems like something we can all agree on. Perhaps a case can be made for some protective lies, like saying “He died in his sleep” about the child’s pet dog, when really you know what happened is that it was hit by a car and dragged its intestines for a hundred yards before collapsing in a pool of its own blood. But for some reason, when it comes to Santa, we’re fine with the lies. We expect our children to trust us, but how can you really trust someone who has lied to you for years? As children get older, they listen to their parents less and less, and we assume that’s just natural, but perhaps it’s simply the obvious result of years of lies about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa.
In nearly all other cases, we tell our kids the truth. We don’t tell them that the Sun goes around the Earth, even though it would certainly be more special if we were the center of the universe. If you really wanted it to be special, you could tell the child the Sun went around them, and them alone, so that it’s lucky for the rest of us they happen to live on Earth so we get it going around us too and powering our entire planet. No, we tell them the plain facts and abandon the magic: Earth goes around the Sun.
If apparently rational adults insist that Santa, who you can’t see, is real, it opens the door for things such as monsters, which you also can’t see – and how will you convince them that monsters are fake, but Santa is real, when you know that both are fake? Not that Santa is really any better than the bogeyman. He watches your child while she sleeps? Come on. He knows everything she does? He’s coming to town? This is much worse than a monster that lives under the bed; at least that monster isn’t keeping a list of everything bad you’ve ever done.
Santa is a magical thing for your child to believe in, something special, something perhaps better than everyday life, but surely the reality is better: you work hard, 40 hours a week, every week, and you put a good chunk of one week’s pay towards getting your child gifts it wants at Christmas (Some of you spend more, and I’m not judging you. Actually, I am judging you. Spend less.) You could spend that money on retirement or drugs, but you’re spending it on your child. Isn’t that better than Santa? He doesn’t work at all, except for one day a year (elves make all the presents, he just eats cookies), and you can hardly call it work when it’s magical. He certainly doesn’t care about your children. You do, but he gets the credit.
They don’t even have to be thankful to Santa, since he’s magical. He’s essentially a force of nature, and a child wouldn’t thank it anymore than it would thank the rain for flooding half of England this past week. Santa teaches children to be ungrateful. And not just to you, but to a whole host of people behind that present: the inventor, the manufacturer, the marketer, the shipper, the warehouser, the checkout clerk. None of those people exist in the child’s mind, even though they actually do exist.
The Santa-related traditions should be replaced. Leaving milk and cookies out for Santa would become ‘leaving milk and cookies out for your parents.’ Your parents are doing all the work anyway (and they’re actually going to be the ones eating the cookies and drinking the milk so you can think it was Santa doing it), they should get the treats.
Hmm. Now I’ve made it sound as if the sole reason I’ve written this is so I can get cookies.