Is it morally wrong to tell children that Santa exists?
Regardless of how much joy and excitement kids get from believing the Santa myth, it is an outright lie, so how can it be regarded as morally right? Should we always take the moral high ground and tell the truth where children are concerned, or should we make exceptions?
When they find out the truth, aren't we teaching children that no one, not even their parents, can be trusted?
This is an interesting question about which I have no settled view. I was relieved when my kid tricked the truth out of us early on. Probably it's true that when a kid discovers the Great Santa Lie their disposition to assume that their parents are always telling the complete, literal truth diminishes somewhat. But surely the big question of trust is not whether parents can be counted on always to tell the complete, literal truth, but whether they can be counted on to act in the kid's best interests. Intentionally misleading the child in a way they're sure to discover may normally undermine this trust (and so it does seem a bad idea in general), but I see no reason to assume that it always would. And indeed I think kids often react to their growing awareness that there's no magic, no Santa, and so on, not with resentment for being convinced otherwise but with a wistful attempt to keep up the charade just a while longer. In a context where it's an obviously exceptional case against a...