The Washington Post has published food for thought on the potential benefits and pitfalls of maintaining the Santa Claus persona for children.
The central question is what happens when children discover the truth about the man with the red suit and reindeer. Christopher Boyle, a psychologist, and Kathy McKay, a mental health researcher, have postulated that finding out parents have lied to them may rupture children's trust. However, research by Jacqueline Wooley at the University of Michigan has found that children's belief and eventual detective work regarding Santa Claus may be a healthy chance to use their critical thinking skills at an early age. And, much earlier research (in 1994) found that children primarily reacted with joy when they realized what their parents had been doing for them through the years. Their growing up seemed to be harder on their parents than it was on them.