Everyone seems to have different thoughts about when you should tell your kids the truth about Santa Claus, or if you should even encourage the idea of Santa with your kids in the first place. However, at ages seven and four, my kids still believe in Santa, and I think it's great.
Childhood is magic. My kids have had a less-than-perfect life so far, and I want to make things as fun as I can for them, especially around the holidays. The fun parts of Santa – a jolly, friendly, caring person who flies around the world on a sleigh pulled by reindeer and gives presents to everyone – is, well, fun, and I want my kids to have as much fun as they can. However, we are a blended family. My step-kids (a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old) were never taught about Santa Claus, and we have to actively work to prevent them from ruining things for the other kids who believe in Santa, both at home and at school. It's not easy.
As for whether or not it's OK to "lie" to our kids about what's real, we actually do this all of the time – from the first game of peek-a-boo to telling them dragons are a thing. Kids need to learn how the world works in an age-appropriate way and on their own. I think it's OK for kids to learn the truth organically, or to use their own reasoning ability to answer the question, "Is Santa Claus real?" when I respond with the question, "What do you think?"
The holidays are hard enough for kids and adults, without sapping what little fun there is out of them. I plan to support my kids no matter what they believe, and have made the choice not ruin it for them.
They Still Believe In Magic
Childhood should be magical. Kids should think that the world is a good, safe place, full of beautiful and wondrous things. They will have plenty of time to realize the harsh reality later on, and we’ll be there to administer hugs when they do.
They Learn About The Importance Of Giving
The parts of the Santa myth that involve a kind person giving gifts to everyone are beautiful. I use the story to talk about the importance of giving. We buy gifts for the kids on the giving tree at work, and make sure that my kids understand the importance of generosity and charity.
They Have Fun (And So Do I)
Never discount the importance of fun – for kids or for adults. Everyone needs fun. Everyone.
They Don't Ruin Things For Other Kids
We teach our kids not to be jerks, in more ways than one. It doesn't matter if they do know more than someone else. No one likes a "know it all." If my kids still believe, the chances of ruining Christmas for others is zero.
They Get To Celebrate Christmas
We're atheists, and we make no apologies about it. However, we do celebrate our own Christmas traditions. While I am definitely a "non-traditional" mom and I am not ashamed to be different, I want my kids to feel "normal," which is hard to do when your parents are blue-haired, progressive atheists in a small town.
Letting your kids believe in Santa (or unicorns or Harry Potter) doesn't hurt anyone, and it definitely doesn't hurt them.
It Teaches Them Reasoning Skills
We don’t have to raise our children to be skeptics. That is, If you allow your children to be open-minded, to question, and to explore the world, they will almost inevitably become skeptics. We don’t have to force reason on them. It's OK to let them come to these conclusions on their own after a period of make-believe and fun.
We Don't Do The Scary Parts
He's Way Less Creepy Than Elf On The Shelf
Speaking of stalkers, the idea of Santa coming one night a year is way less creepy than an elf who sits in your home and moves at night. *shudders*
I'm Not A Monster
I teach my kids not to be mean or ruin things for others, and it's not cool for me to not practice what I preach. I refuse to ruin their childhoods or be responsible for introducing harsh truths. For now, I will let them learn and grow and eventually some other jerk will tell them the truth (like my brother did in 1985). I can guarantee that they won't still believe when they head off to Junior High School. Who knows? Maybe they will get their Hogwart's letter in a few years and be off to learn some magic of their own.