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My Kids Want To Go To The Circus -- I Can't Bring Myself To Take Them

“Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town,” my husband declared to our kids as we drove past the big tent that was being erected at our local showgrounds.

“Can we go?” My two girls excitedly asked in unison.

“Of course we can go, circuses are so much fun,” their dad replied.

As he said this my brain was screaming the complete opposite. Although I waited for a more appropriate time to share this view, I was visibly unhappy with my husband’s quick reply.

For clarity, I wasn’t upset because he wanted to take them to something new and different that they no doubt would probably enjoy. I wasn’t upset because he agreed to do this without consulting me first (because 99 per cent of the time we are on the same page).

I was upset because of what he was offering to take them to: the circus.

Shona Hendley. Image: Supplied

You see, tightrope walkers, fire jugglers, trapeze artists, even clowns (well, most), I am completely on board with but as soon as I hear or see any mention of an animal appearing within the confines of a circus tent, my enthusiasm is stripped bare and my answer is a simple no.

And this circus tent was filled with them.

For me personally, my mind had always been very made up about this particular form of ‘entertainment’.  My decision, which is based directly from on my own values and morals, means I always had the view that I would not allow my children to attend a circus with any animal involved and that would be that.

And while I fully comprehend that this may come across as selfish and perhaps unfair, I also believe given this is really the only one of my non-compromising issues in the parenting realm, it should be followed.

Shona with her two daughters. Image: Supplied

So the circus dilemma has become my parenting crisis of late. First world, I know, but nonetheless an issue because it seems my husband and I share different views on the big top and what it’s all about.

On a whole, my husband and I are really effective as a parenting team. We generally agree on most things, work together if there is a problem, support each other to execute our decisions and explain these to our children.

If I had to give us a mark, I would give us a consistent A. But now as the circus came to town, with their caged animals in tow, this grade dropped down to a C, a C + at best.

Although he understands and respects my perspective about the way animals are used within circuses, for him, it has never been a significant priority. Not because he doesn’t love and care for animals but in his eyes, there is a separation between their treatment and being an audience watching a performance. Simply put, he just looks at it in a different way.

To my husband, the circus in any shape or form is a rite of passage for kids. It is just harmless fun where children can see things they wouldn’t normally see, be entertained in ways they wouldn’t normally be entertained and have an experience they should be allowed to have, at least once.

Shona's husband thinks the circus is part of being a kid but Shona can't look past the animals. Images: Supplied

While I agree on all of those arguments, the determining factor for me is the animal component because it goes against every fibre of my being, every animal loving morsel of my DNA and every animal advocate logic in my head.

I personally refuse to attend any circus or show that uses animals as part of them because the simple fact is, they are not entertainment, or at least they shouldn’t be.

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The circus world is notorious for animal abuse and their mistreatment of animals and knowing this makes supporting them via ticket sales and as an audience member one of the worst things I could possibly do.

By doing these things, even if I was not to go but still send my children, makes them active participants within this cruel circus microcosm which is not what I want my children to be.

So here we are, two parents, two sets of values and two perspectives on what most would consider to be a pretty straight forward decision. Perhaps we don’t need to go anywhere for a good performance, the greatest show on earth might be right at home.

Featured image: Supplied