The Case Against Santa Claus

If you do “Santa Claus” at your house, please stop immediately.

“Santa Claus” is one of the first Great Lies parents feel compelled to tell their children. On the whole no one minds because it involves giving, and giving comes from the heart, et cetera. But generically speaking, you shouldn’t lie to your children for the same reason you wouldn’t encourage them to lie to you: Lying is wrong. And “Santa Claus” is no small lie: A fat man with a white beard and red suit stealthily maneuvers his way into your home – while you sleep! – and for this felony he is to be rewarded with cookies and milk. John Maynard Keynes couldn’t have concocted an exchange this fatuous.

But seriously. If you’re like most people, you work hard over the course of a year to make your home function as you need and want it to function; what is the wisdom, at the end of it all, in surrendering the fruits of your labor to invisible sources? Worse yet, invisible sources too many parents feel inclined to use as blackmail against their own children?

That last bit stems directly from the “Path of Least Resistance” school of parenting, where children would not be brought up to behave themselves because they need to learn how to be civilized. No, they should behave themselves – from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas morning, anyway – because if they don’t, “Santa Claus” might bring them fewer presents. What an insidious inducement that is. It’s one thing to have incentive based bonuses in the workplace, something else again to have them when you’re six and can barely keep from pissing yourself on a daily basis. A child’s brain is confused enough without your turning their happiness into a mafia shakedown. (“Nice Christmas present you have here. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.”)

“Oh come on,” I hear you say, “it’s all harmless fun and they’re eventually going to find out there’s no Santa anyway. What’s the big deal?” I agree on the harmlessness of the thing; no one spends their lives shell-shocked from the day they found out “Santa Claus” wasn’t real. But children do spend years of their lives believing it’s real, and those are years you could be demonstrating to them how the world, and your love for them, actually works, as opposed to the fantasy you want to foist upon them just because your parents did it to you, and their parents to them.

Do yourself the favor of taking credit, along with reaping the emotional rewards, for being a responsible adult. Sit them down and say, “Kids, we buy these presents for you because we love you, because we want you to have nice things, and because it makes us feel good when you’re happy. Merry Christmas.” And give them a gift. Unless your children are far-gone emotional cripples, they won’t need an old lie to enjoy themselves on Christmas morning, or to appreciate their gifts.

Author Bio:

Brian S. Wise used to be the lead columnist at and a fairly well known pundit; now he’s just some dude. He has cool ideas for books and columns, but hardly ever stays out of bed long enough to get started on any of them. He is available via email at and via The Twitter at @BrianSWise
  • Alejandra Pena

    Wonder why our children are rebelling at a younger age than
    ever. Why their minds are all
    twisted? Because of the LIES they are
    brought up with that is why. We teach
    our children to believe in Santa clause, a man that doesn’t exist. We tell our children that if they are naughty
    they won’t be getting any gifts. We lie
    to them; yes of course it’s a holiday tradition and something for our children
    to fantasize about. But how much good
    are we really doing them with this fantasy world? What happens when Christmas day comes around
    for a very well behaved child from a poor family that wakes up to not
    gifts? The child then feels sad and disappointed
    and thinks that it doesn’t matter if he’s good or bad, Santa won’t ever stop by
    his house. And then when this child goes
    back to school and comes to find out that Santa brought some of the bad student’s
    nice gifts, not knowing their parents can afford those gifts, then the child
    will grow up with anger and resentment.
    These feelings can build up inside a child until one day they act upon
    them. Let’s free our children from the
    little lies than can cause so much harm. This is just one of the many lies kids are
    brought up with. If we want our children
    to grow up with good morals and values we also have to instill in them
    TRUTH. Lies are human’s worst

  • Bill M

    I am a former catholic seminarian Bernie…and I am 100% behind you on this.  Not only for the reasons you stated, but also because it takes away from the real reason for Christmas itself.  I remember too when my father told me there was no Santa, and even at 5 years old (I’m 53 now) I remember feeling very betrayed, and thinking…What else are my Mom & Dad lying or misleading me about?”  It really is a life altering event, but not in a good way.



  • therealguyfaux

    I seem to recall a cartoon (from the New Yorker, perhaps?) of a little boy telling his parents, “Why should I believe you about Jesus, after you did that Santa Claus number on me?”

  • Nancye

    You’re a killjoy. Can’t you find something more important that to write about?

    • Brian S. Wise


    • Alejandra Pena

      No what is a killjoy is our children not understanding why santa clause didnt stop by their house but he did at that bad kid from his class, then growing up to be a criminal or worst a murderer. Thats what lies do to people, children are adults in the making, they need to grow up knowing the truth and not being lied to!!!

  • cmacrider

    Your article shows a marked lack of understanding of the role mythology plays in our lives and assumes that some politically correct psychology glossed over with some superficial western rationalism explains society.
    If your analysis is complete … everyone should immediately throw away their American dollars as being worthless pieces of paper. Much of the reason we believe that they have value relates to the mythology surrounding those pieces of paper.
    Possibly you should consider reading Carl Jung

    • Brian S. Wise

      “Your article shows a marked lack of understanding of the role mythology plays in our lives ….If your analysis is complete … everyone should immediately throw away their American dollars as being worthless pieces of paper.”

      Ooo. You were REALLY close there. Try again?

      “Possibly you should consider reading Carl Jung”


      • cmacrider

        Didn’t really expect a response that was wise Wise.

        • Brian S. Wise

          Then you weren’t disappointed.

          • cmacrider

            No but you are with your pathetic comments

  • Brian S. Wise

    Two good posts. Thanks for reading.

  • Glen Stambaugh

    As one of five children, we always were in on where our presents came from. Santa was part of the fun, but noone pretended he was real. I agree you don’t need mythology to enjoy the magic of Christmas.

  • Gustav vonChristiaan

    When my Daughter( now a scientist) was in Kindergarten, the school planned a trip to the mall for each child to have her/his pic taken w/Santa. My daughter loudly told the rest of the children that Santa was a “myth,” yes, she used that word, much to the dismay of many parents present. Of course we taught her that. She was made to sit on Santa’s lap and when the camera clicked & picture developed, it showed her looking to the mall ceiling rolling her eyes.