Though I don’t have children, I’ve long assumed that when the time comes, Santa Claus would be a part of their upbringing. I mean, it’s harmless, right? Plus, as Dale McGowan wrote in Parenting Beyond Belief, it’s kind of like training wheels for God:
By allowing our children to participate in the Santa myth and find their own way out of it through skeptical inquiry, we give them a priceless opportunity to see a mass cultural illusion first from the inside, then from the outside. A very casual line of post-Santa questioning can lead kids to recognize how completely we all can snow ourselves if the enticements are attractive enough. Such a lesson, viewed from the top of the hill after exiting a belief system under their own power, can gird kids against the best efforts of the evangelists — and far better than secondhand knowledge could ever hope to do.
Now, Sam Harris makes the case that introducing your children to Santa is harmful. Not because of the connection to religion, but because it exposes you as someone willing to lie to your kids for temporary amusement. (It’s an argument he makes in his book Lying.)