Children Learn What They Live, Pt. 2

5f7cdc191945dc60d0cba83d3081b97eLast week, I wrote a bit about the most negative examples of parenting — some of which borders on abuse, if it isn’t abuse outright. This week, I have a different puzzle.

Our local live theater has the reputation for being a family-friendly place to spend the evening. The last musical I went to see (a couple of weeks ago) was NOT appropriate for children. I voiced my concerns, and received the answer that they had “toned down” the musical so that it was much tamer than the movie on which the musical was based, and that the theater felt a need to be true to the script.

One of my friends who was in the production admitted to letting her nine-year-old child see the play, stating that it was important to let be involved in what his mom and older sister were doing and that he knew the difference between fantasy and reality and that there were things we don’t do and say in real life.

This week, I saw an article in our local newspaper discussing the new move — that the community theater felt that the local children’s theater group was taking care of the needs of the children in our community and that they felt the need to produce shows that would have more roles for adults.

Somehow, I’ve been left with the feeling that logically, the group in charge of our community theater has logically added two plus two and written the answer “twelve.”

Here are my thoughts:

  • Live theater is different from Hollywood-produced movies. If the art form is going to survive, we need to be raising a generation who has an appreciation of it. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that my students attend the shows that the theater is now producing. That leaves the options open to selected plays at the local high school, a Christmas ballet, and one musical in the spring. My other option would be to send them to productions in neighboring communities.
  • If we want more roles for adult actors, I’m fine with that. I have considered trying out for some productions in a few years when my schedule is a little more open. I can’t try out for roles in plays and musicals of such “adult” material — it violates my own moral and religious beliefs! Why not look for scripts that have adult roles but have a family-friendly story line?
  • I believe fully in Suzuki’s philosophy that when we surround children (and I believe adults, too) with things that are the most beautiful, respectful, etc., that we are helping to train them to have a beautiful character. The reverse is that if we surround ourselves and our children with the vulgar and profane, they learn to be vulgar and profane.

I’m not completely upset with the community theater.  I have definitely had the opportunity to become wiser as a live theater consumer, and I have had a lot to consider over the past few weeks.

In the end, I guess I believe that if it isn’t good for children, it isn’t really good for adults. The exception would be things like learning to use tools that children have to grow into the ability and maturity to use safely. Vices, on  the other hand, are impossible to use safely.

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