This systematic construct of lying to children for no reason can have a negative effect on children’s ability to trust their parents. If the parents are lying about where babies come from, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, then what is to stop a kid from thinking they are lying about God? There are several practical reasons for not teaching kids about Santa Claus, most of which are secular in nature and can apply to anyone.
1) A habit of unnecessarily lying to one’s children is never a good idea because it creates mistrust. Parents don’t want to be lied to by their kids, so why not start off by being honest, you reap what you sow. Don’t expect kids to always be honest if you aren’t always honest with them. If people cultivate a culture of honesty in the early stages of their children’s lives, then there should be more trust when they are teenagers.
2) Teaching kids that their gifts come from a magical elf that their parents don’t even believe in, rather than teaching them the value of a dollar and earning gifts is a stupid idea. The parents should be honest about the sources of their kid’s gifts so that the kids have an understanding of giving and receiving. They can truly express being thankful and giving honor and credit to whom it is due. We all want to be thanked for what we do for others, so let’s not rob them of an opportunity to properly practice this habit. Furthermore, children should engage in the act of giving as well. If they know all material gifts come from a human source that initially made or purchased that gift, then they can be grateful to people that did the work to bless them and be encouraged to participate in giving.
3) Picking up from the previous point let’s teach kids about money. At a certain age (maybe 8 or 9), Christmas can be an opportunity to teach kids about budgeting since by that time they should know basic arithmetic. If parents set a budget and then teach the kids to look at prices and determine what gifts they want most that will fit into the budget. In addition, the parent can tell them that they are required to give up a certain percentage of the budget for the purchase of gifts for a poor child in need. This will teach them the value of money, prioritizing their desires and delaying their gratification if necessary, and putting others first. As a reward for being faithful to those principles, the parent can surprise them with an extra gift, or expands the budget and let them choose something extra. Encourage giving, it’s Christmas after all.
4) Children may get the impression that poor people, and those who either do not celebrate Christmas or live in countries that don’t allow Christmas celebrations, are automatically bad people. This is because of the whole naughty/nice dichotomy. If kids see that other kids are not getting gifts for Christmas they may deduce that these are bad kids. The logic is, that if you get Christmas gifts, you are good and Santa loves you. Otherwise, you are bad and deserve coal and shame. Furthermore, Christmas is not celebrated everywhere and it limits the kid’s perspective on world cultures, teaching them the truth so they are not walking around ignorant of other people and their cultures. People are not bad because they don’t celebrate Christmas. There are even Christians that don’t celebrate it because they either see it as unnecessary or as a paganized, commercialized, secularized, hallmark holiday. Jesus said to love even our enemies because that is what God does. He said God makes it rain for the righteous and unrighteous alike, and true children of God act like him (Matthew 5:45). Let’s avoid any framework that teaches kids to devalue a person because they don’t have the same God or belief system. Is Santa a deity, should we pray to him like we do God? Let’s stop treating Santa like a deity and just be honest with our kids about what we expect from their behavior and reward or punish them based on the actions we witnessed.
5) Lastly, this is for Christians concerning Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The focus should always be on Christ at Christmas. We are celebrating the Messiah (the anointed one) from God’s word. Rabbits have no place in our salvation and neither does Santa. The message of this celebration is that the Messiah promised by God, has finally come to save us from slavery to the rebellious sin nature that we inherited from Adam, the first human when he rebelled. Rebels who hate God’s way will not enter the Kingdom of God when they don’t want to submit to the King or his rules. Those who accept Jesus as Lord will because they receive his gift of the holy spirit (John 14:15-17, Rom 8:5-11), then we will be transformed by the holy spirit so that we can no longer be slaves to sin nature (John 8:31-36). He did this so that we could overcome our sin nature by submitting to the holy spirit. Christmas is celebrating the fact God gave us a redeemer who took our punishment and gave us the power to break out from slavery to sin so that we can inherit eternal life and submit to the King’s rule in Heaven. The Holy Spirit is the power that God gives us to overcome sin by softening our heart hearts (Deut 30:6, Jer 4:4, Ez 36:25-27, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:16-21, Rom 2:29, and Col 2:11). And the Holy Spirit is only available to those who received Jesus as Lord (John 14:15-17, Rom 8:5-11). Galatians 5:16 says, “walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh”. Galatians 6:7-8 says those that sow into the spirit reap eternal life, but those that so into the flesh reap corruption. This is the Good News, not a magic elf bringing gifts one day a year to only wealthy people that celebrate Christmas.