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Bringing Children to Coachella: Good or Bad Parenting?

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COACHELLA
Zach Cordner/Invision/AP

When attending the Coachella music festival, there's no shortage of people to meet: Sahara tent bros, VIP elitists, burners, 18-year-old girls in flower crowns -- you name it, they're at Coachella. But one of the most surprising demographic is also one of the most controversial: the families.

From babies in noise-canceling headphones to pre-teen kids trying to avoid their embarrassing parents, there is a surprisingly wide range of children attending the festival. In fact, Alessandra Ambrosio brought her 5-year-old daughter Anja to this year's Coachella -- and subsequently sparked quite a bit of controversy surrounding the decision.

On one hand, there is a legitimate argument that Coachella (or any similar festival) is no place for children. Between the drugs, the alcohol, the crowds, the rowdiness and the heat, it's understandable why children-toting parents get more than a few side-eyes at the festival. It's hard enough to get a group of adults with cell phones to stay together -- just thinking about keeping tabs on children makes me briefly reconsider my position on child leashes. Not to mention the fact that seeing an incapacitated young woman being taken out of the festival was one of the most disturbing things I, an adult, have seen. Is this the type of stuff we want to expose our children to?

But on the other hand, there is part of me that is very attracted to the idea of making Coachella a family event. Putting aside the parents that only take their kids because they selfishly want to go and the parents who bring their infants (don't even pretend they can appreciate the music), I think there is a certain respectable reasoning behind bringing children to the festival. In a time when second graders have iPhones and girls idolize Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, Coachella represents a desire to return to a simpler and more authentic pop culture. There is a sense of community and appreciation that is at the core of the festival -- the founders did not start Coachella to be a drug-fueled bender with a side dish of music; they started it with the intention to bring people who love music together for a weekend dedicated to this art. Yes, bringing children to Coachella is a significantly bigger and more complex commitment than bringing them to a museum -- but at a basic level, they are in many ways the same. Would I rather have my 5th grader spend a weekend at Coachella, or a weekend playing Candy Crush on their iPad? 100% the former.

Yes, there are parts of Coachella that are NSFW, or NSFK. I'd encourage parents to avoid the Sahara tent, hang towards the back of crowds, hit up the do lab for a midday cool-off, and stock up on water. And if you're going to bring your children to Coachella for the sake of a cultural and artistic experience, then make sure they get it -- explore the art installations, go on the ferris wheel and eat some of the incredible food in the Terrace.

So while bringing children to Coachella might initially seem like a serious lapse of parental judgement, maybe we're just having a lapse of judgement ourselves.