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In the UK there's a royal wedding coming up and there will be lots of television coverage of the event for those who are interested. Personally I'm not.

This will also be a public holiday, so no work and no school. My initial idea was to take advantage of the holiday and the spring weather and the family would go to the beach or do something else fun outdoors.

However, this potentially deprives my children of the chance to experience the event. It's even possible that in many decades time they will want to be able to look back and remember it.

One option is to ask them, of course. And I will. But should I also be helping them to decide one way or the other (especially if it's an event that makes me feel a bit curmudgeonly)?

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Suggest you re-word question to: "How would you encourage children to experience history when not interested yourself?" I know this changes the nature of your question, but I think it would be more broad and still get you the answers you are looking for. –  nGinius Apr 20 '11 at 3:30
    
@nGinius but i'm not asking how to encourage, in fact the school is "doing" the wedding big time so they don't need any help or encouraging. instead i'm wondering if i'm being selfish and shortsighted in not joining in with it. –  hawbsl Apr 21 '11 at 9:22
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The amount of significance you give something should reflect your values. Watching a wedding of two people I have never and will never meet just because they are famous for no other reason than one of them being the child of a famous person (who himself is only famous for the same reason) in no way reflects my values, so I would not encourage my kids to watch it. –  Kevin Apr 21 '11 at 17:58
    
Noted. Rewording your question would make it relevant to more people and read less like a poll. –  nGinius Apr 23 '11 at 5:53
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7 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are a few different ways to address this question:

  • I'm not interested, but there are good reasons why my child should pay attention to it
  • I'm not interested and don't think my child should be either, but eventually they might disagree and will feel aggreived at my choice
  • my interest is secondary, my child will be bored by it, but they need to know about such things in order to create opinions
  • I am interested but don't want to foist my choices on my child

... and doubtless many other subtleties.

In this situation, I'm with you - I'm not interested in it. I think we'll strike a middle ground because we've got some people coming over. Those who are interested can watch the TV, those not can sit in the garden and play or chat. I'm sure the kids will want to watch TV for a while, not least to copy the adults who are doing that, but the smaller ones will be quickly bored and will go and do something else.

So they'll have a bit of exposure, perhaps enough to remember, but I'll be doing my bit by setting an example and being a grouch in the garden!

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I can tell you this much. Every historic event that my parents made me watch as a child, I'm glad that they made me do it. So I would recommend that you do take advantage of this opportunity.

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+1 - Of particular note: It's entirely possible that your children's friends will be talking about it the next school day. While it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it saves them from being left out of most conversations for the next few days. –  afrazier Apr 15 '11 at 17:16
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Although I'm highly skeptical to calling a wedding a "historical event", you are otherwise right. So +1. –  Lennart Regebro Apr 16 '11 at 7:47
    
@Lennart, if it's the wedding of your own country's crown prince then YES it's historical! :-) (I'm referring to the Danish royal wedding in 2004 where I sadly had to work; not the upcoming UK one.) –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 17 '11 at 11:40
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The Swedish crown princess got married recently. I couldn't care less, and completely fail to see how it's historical at all. The lingonberry chocolate was nice though. –  Lennart Regebro Apr 17 '11 at 15:32
    
@afrazier - not sure I'd encourage doing something just in order to be a part of conversation. In fact if that was the sole reason to do something I'd actively discourage it - as I wouldn't want my kids to grow up as sheep. As it is, we aren't going to watch it - we're going to the beach for the day as the roads are likely to be clear (with all those folks staying in to watch the wedding :-) –  Rory Alsop Apr 18 '11 at 11:07
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At least give them the opportunity, if they are not interested they will probably let you know that fact but at least then you are providing the forum for them to acknowledge the event. I know I barely remember the moon landing when it happened, but I do know I got to watch it on TV at the time so I feel I have that connection. I remember the wedding for Charles and Di but didn't care so walked out when it happened, at least then if people asked me about it I could give my own opinion on it.

I let my kids participate as much as possible, bringing them to historical sites and parks now, some interest my son and some do not but sometimes even he surprises me by saying something about the visit months later. I'm all for giving them as many opportunities as possible to know and see something different, I believe that's my duty as a parent, but I let them decide how long they want to be involved.

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+1 for "at least give them the opportunity" –  nGinius Apr 24 '11 at 13:12
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If your children aren't old enough to decide for themselves you will ultimately be "helping them to decide" anyway because they will likely be doing what you are doing anyway. If you are at home in front of the TV, they will be at home in front of the TV. If you decide to take them to the beach they will be at the beach.

You can base your decision on quite a few things:

  • How significant is the event if you take away the hype? Is it likely Will is going to be the next king? Is it likely they will still be together by the time your children grow up?

  • How significant is the event culturally? How much does your part of the UK identify with monarchy? Is watching the wedding part of how your country identifies itself?

  • How many other people are watching it? Will you children feel left out if they miss out on this? Maybe there teacher will ask them to write an essay about it?

  • Will your children's needs be better met by spending the afternoon with a loving family or sitting in front of the box? Is this something that will bring your family closer together.

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Whether it will be important or not really depends on the child. Whether they have any "wonder" in the bigger picture of life. Some people are nose-down, focused on here-and-now, others are dreamers. And you may have an idea of where your child will be 10 years from now, but you won't be entirely sure.

Of course, if you find that you look back on historic events in your life with awe/amazement, your kids are more likely to emulate that. So, without any further information, the question is whether you would enjoy it or not.

Personally, it's not that big of a deal to me. However, I'd be tempted to show my kids if it were age-appropriate (e.g., 7+ for girls, probably 8 or 9+ for boys) if only because they may look back on it with that sense of wonder and appreciation when they're older, and it doesn't hurt. But I probably wouldn't spend $100 per ticket on it - watching the TV or Youtube coverage of it would be fine. And I wouldn't get upset if they weren't interested.

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Your question is regarding events of historical significance, and I will use an example in my life that is of historical and relgious significance to answer. My sister is agnostic and they do not celebrate Easter. However, she wants her children to have exposure to the context of the holiday so that they can form their own thoughts, make their own choices and show their own interests and preferences as they grow older. So perhaps understanding the context of the current historical event is what you might want to make sure you expose your child to, and then depending on the level of interest they show, you could continue to give them more exposure. So sitting down a week before the holiday, discussing why everyone will be getting that day off and teaching a little more about it (but maybe the school is doing that in this case) and then having the opportunity to gauge for yourself if the child would enjoy more exposure to that historical knowledge would be appropriate. If the child is enthused, then you can plan your 5 hour wait on the curbside to watch the procession go by. If less than enthused, go play at the beach and watch the coverage on TV later. I think some discussion with you is warrented but you can gauge anything beyond that.

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Some great and thoughtful answers so thanks. I'm answering here because the event is over and I think we found a middle way which worked.

We camped and surfed as planned but the wedding build up was on the car radio on the way down and I let the kids choose their favourite newspaper (all of them plastered with photos) from the service station and we caught bits of it on the small telly at the campsite reception office. So I think they'll be able to say they remember the fuss of it all and were part of the national mood even though their actual live TV minutes were in single digits.

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