Because of this, I am not just interested in taking my children to sporting events or just art museums or just the theatre. I want to take them to all of those things and more.
And that, of course, can get expensive and time consuming. But I have a secret weapon.
The high school has lots of sports teams. The high school has plays and concerts. The high school has all of these events all at a much lower cost than the theatre or stadium down town.
Why do I like that? Well, sometimes I take a child to something and find he/she actually isn't mature enough to sit through the entire game or performance and we need to leave before it is over. Many times these events last later into the evening than I want to keep my child up. I feel less bad about leaving early when I paid less for the ticket.
Another bonus is that typically at high school events, there are a lot of families around. This is a more friendly environment for a child. I am not risking interrupting an experience for someone who paid $50 a ticket. It is a better environment for training a child how to behave at these events than the events where there are little to no children in attendance.
This isn't to say we only attend events at the high school. Another great place to practice etiquette at events is at events specially designed for children. The circus, Disney On Ice, Thomas shows...those can all be fun and great events to go to with young ones.
We also sometimes go to the real deal. We go to the real ballet. We go to musicals put on by professionals. As much as possible, I like to take advantage of the matinee option for these events--then you take out the late night factor. I also like to do them as one-on-one dates (see one-on-one time). It is much easier to keep a child behaving appropriately when that child is on man-to-man defense. But I have taken more than one to things by myself before with no issues.
These events not only help expose your child to "culture," they also create fond memories. I can't see the University of Utah logo without remembering going to games with my dad. Anytime I hear a song from the Phantom of the Opera, I remember when my dad took my sister and me to a performance (which by the way was awesome of my dad because he is one of those people who focuses in on one thing--sports. Broadway is not his thing. But he went anyway).
So if you think you can't afford culture in life, check out the high school (and Jr. High!) to see what they have to offer. You might be pleasantly surprised.