You know a movie is good when you need to go out for coffee after it’s over to talk about it. That’s what happened when we saw Captain Fantastic on Sunday night with friends. The film is about a family with six kids living ‘off the grid’ in the wilderness. It raises lots of good questions about what kind of child rearing practices are the best. It makes you think about how parents can achieve balance in providing kids with love and safety as well as the necessary physical activity, intellectual stimulation and social interaction they need.
Modern day parenting in North America is criticized in the movie as producing dull, screen addicted, narrow-minded kids. In contrast the way the father at the heart of Captain Fantastic raises his kids makes them open-minded, physically fit, and intellectually brilliant. However the film lets us see the faults in his approach too. His children are without proper medical care and are forced to engage in risky survivalist behavior. Their father is completely honest with them and never protects them from any kind of information personal or otherwise. This can be emotionally difficult for the children. He has kept his kids so isolated and out of tune with popular culture that they don’t know how to interact in socially acceptable ways with their peers when the opportunity presents itself.
Critics’ reviews of this movie have been mixed but I’d definitely recommend it as a parent, grandparent and educator. It will make you think about how you raised your own children, the way children are being raised today, and what might be the most balanced way to prepare children for life. If you do see the movie make time to go out for coffee after it’s over and talk. You’ll need to.