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Circus ethics ... is this really odd of me?

last year at the circus my kids my kids were very curious about the protesters outside. Since before having kids I actually used to do some KFC & circus boycotting I approached the picketers with my kids and asked them to please not hand us a flyer (it was gory, not age appropriate) and we talked for a few minutes with them about animal rights, and so on. My children enjoyed it, and then we enjoyed the circus. We have spent lots of time talking about how neat it was to see a bear on a motorcycle but how that must make him scared, he misses his family, etc. Flash forward to two weeks from now when we're going to the circus again. Considered handing out brochures w/ my kids for an hour or so beforehand. I know it's rather hypocritical but animal free circus's are not an option in my neck of the woods and it's important to me that my kids experience normal traditional childhood activities. On the flip side I don't want to scar or confuse them. Comments/thoughts appreciated, esp. respectful ones

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Asked by hibbingmom at 11:16 PM on Apr. 26, 2011 in Parenting Debate

Level 35 (71,876 Credits)
Answers (13)
  • Sounds like you're caving on your morals a little, in order to give your kids a fun time. I can totally see where you're coming from, (I agree more with the animal rights side of your argument), but I also see wanting your kids to have fun and that making great childhood memories is very important too. Hmm. What a dilemma. :/

    Answer by judimary at 11:22 PM on Apr. 26, 2011

  • From all the documentary's Iv seen the circus animals are well taken care of here in America. Like the people who throw paint on people wearing fur. Those people piss me off. They are usually wearing leather shoes or have a leather purse. Where do they think that leather came from? Short of following a circus around for a year we have no way to know the animals are being mistreated or abused. But thats just how I feel.

    Answer by vbruno at 11:26 PM on Apr. 26, 2011

  • I think its a mixed message to do both. I would speak candidly and share parts of the brochure with them so they understand what the issues are. I can feel your spot as wanting to give your kids both the childhood experience and a social and political awareness. I just think its too confusing for them to actually physically hand out the brochures, but still attend the show.

    Answer by jamesonjustines at 11:46 PM on Apr. 26, 2011

  • I would choose one or the other. It would be difficult for them to process why there was a need for protesting, and then, "ignore that" and lets go see these abused animals...kwim?

    Take them to a nice zoo or shelter or something for the traditional fun if you feel strongly about wanting to protest, and show them why it is different (i.e. tons of staff that spend time with the animals, medical care, attention to their diet, etc).

    Answer by Mom-2-3-Girlz at 11:53 PM on Apr. 26, 2011

  • It sounds as if you are trying to find a way to feel comfortable taking your children to something that you don't necessarily completely agree with. Personally, I wouldn't involve my kids in a protest or in handing out flyers, just in terms of safety issues. Even if the intent is completely peaceful, you don't know who is going to show up with a bone to pick or an anger management problem. Honestly, I think if you're conflicted, skip the circus and do something you feel more positive about having to do with animals... the kid won't be missing out on the fun of childhood if they aren't regular circus attendees. Is there a good zoo in your area? I know there are ethics involved with keeping animals in zoos as well, but I always makes sure we talk about how the zoos do their best to meet the needs of all the animals and the work they do as far as conservation, breeding threatened species, etc. whenever we go.

    Answer by Freela at 12:01 AM on Apr. 27, 2011

  • I agree with you about the dilemma. I won't take my kids to a circus, but I'm up in the air about sea world. I find it hard to believe that sea world would contribute to the abuse and killing of dolphins, but it's been all over the media. I love going there as a kid and I want my kids to experience it, but I don't know how to reconcile my feelings about animal abuse and Shamu's show.

    I don't know that a circus or any type of show is really a "normal" childhood activity. What is normal? Maybe just a zoo or museum.

    Answer by Kitkat61277 at 12:29 AM on Apr. 27, 2011

  • Picketing an event you are also attending? I think that would confuse your children and send them a very mixed message about your ethics and when it's really worth making a stand for something.

    Answer by riotgrrl at 9:27 AM on Apr. 27, 2011

  • personally circus scared me as a kid so i wouldnt have taken mine,, but thats ME lol.

    i think in ways you are conflicting your morals here.. is there a better way to expose kids to fun? maybe disney on ice, the theater, zoo, museum, fair,or create an animalfree circus in your house.. or do a themed aminal free party for the kids instead (orientaltrading has a lot of great affordable games/set ups, etc for such a party).

    Answer by xxhazeldovexx at 10:07 AM on Apr. 27, 2011

  • You can't have it both ways. You can't say "Hey, kids! Let's go to the circus because it's fun and you get to see animals doing tricks!" and then turn around and say "The circus is WRONG because they torture the animals to get them to do tricks."

    Answer by makelineerror at 10:29 AM on Apr. 27, 2011

  • I'm terrified of Clowns, so I would never take my children to a clown infested circus... Now, that's a different issue than yours, but it's the same too... I wouldn't take my children because I have a strong fear, you have a strong belief and shouldn't be bending around it. There are lots of other options besides a circus. And since what people call a circus today isn't anything like what a real circus is - with the tents and sideshows and all - I say head to a petting zoo or rent a magician for someone b-day party... It's not much different. Or go to a monster car show or Cirqdisole show if you want all the crazy stuff...

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 12:10 PM on Apr. 27, 2011

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