Is Santa Real?

Re­lated on OB: Ly­ing to Kids The Third Alternative

My wife and I are plan­ning to have kids, so of course we’ve been go­ing through the usual sorts of de­bates re­gard­ing up­bring­ing. We won­dered briefly, will we raise our chil­dren as athe­ists? It’s kindof a cruel ex­per­i­ment, as folks tend to use their own ex­pe­riences to guide rais­ing chil­dren, and both of us were raised Catholic. Nonethe­less, it was fairly well set­tled af­ter about 5 min­utes of di­alogue that athe­ist was the way to go.

Then we had the re­lated dis­cus­sion of whether to teach our chil­dren about Santa Claus. After hours of de­bate, we de­cided we’d both have to think on the ques­tion some more. It’s still been an open ques­tion for years now.

Should we teach kids that Santa Claus ex­ists? This isn’t a new ques­tion, by any means. But it’s now mo­ti­vated by this thread about ra­tio­nal­ist ori­gin sto­ries. Note that many of the posters mark the ‘ra­tio­nal­ist awak­en­ing’ as the time they re­al­ized God doesn’t ex­ist. The shock that ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing their par­ents, were wrong and/​or ly­ing to them was enough to mo­ti­vate them to pur­sue ra­tio­nal­ity and truth.

If those same chil­dren were never taught about God, Santa Claus, and other false­hoods, would they have be­come ra­tio­nal­ists, or would they have con­tented them­selves with play­ing bet­ter video games? If the child never re­al­ized there’s no Santa Claus, would we have a rea­son to say, “You’re grow­ing up and I’m proud of you”?