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Captain Fantastic is a work of fiction. But does it seem realistic? In particular: Does it seem plausible that the parenting approaches depicted in the film might result in children with some of those traits, skills, knowledge, etc? why or why not?

Watch the movie Captain Fantastic. (We’ll watch it in class, but if you miss class, it’s available to rent on Amazon (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..) After you’ve seen it, post your answers to these questions.  (Please number your answers.) OR you can watch it on Youtube.

  1. The Cash children had a number of interesting traits, attributes, and skills. They also knew a lot. Thinking from the perspective of a parent (or future parent), which of those traits, attributes, skills, and knowledge would you be happy for your own children to have?
  2. Now on the other side: which traits, attributes, skills, and knowledge of the Cash children would you not want your own children to have?
  3. What are the parenting approaches of Ben Cash? (I.e., what are the things that Ben does as a parent?) Just to get you started: He homeschools his children, he teaches them self-defense, the kids all learn multiple languages, he’s very honest with his kids (even with his 6 year old, Nai, who asks about rape and sex), kids aren’t allowed to eat any sugar…etc.  List everything you can!
  4. Justin and Jackson are the cousins of the Cash children.  (a) Describe Justin and Jackson. What are their traits, attributes, skills, knowledge?  I suspect that their parents (Ben’s sister Harper and brother-in-law Dave) are meant to represent “mainstream parenting”. (b) What would you guess are their parenting approaches?
  5. Captain Fantastic is a work of fiction. But does it seem realistic? In particular: Does it seem plausible that the parenting approaches depicted in the film might result in children with some of those traits, skills, knowledge, etc? why or why not?
  6. Another way of looking at it is that this movie presents an implicit argument that goes like this: 1. If you parent like Ben Cash, your children will turn out more like the Cash children. 2. If you parent like Ben’s sister and brother-in-law (who are, I think, a stand-in for “mainstream /regular” parenting), your children will turn out more like Justin and Jackson. 3. It is better to have kids that turn out like the Cash Kids than to have kids that turn out Jackson and Justin.  THEREFORE, one ought to parent more like Ben Cash and less like mainstream parents. What do you think about that argument? Do the premises seem right to you? If the premises were true, would the conclusion follow? Do you, generally speaking, agree or disagree with the argument?  (Note: in order to assess the truth premise #3, you’ll have to figure out what might be meant by “better.” To assess whether it’s better to have kids like the Cash kids or kids like Jackson and Justin, you’ll have to get clear about your own parenting values!)
  7. Objections to the Ben Cash parenting approach are depicted in the movie in the form of bad things that happen to the kids (the implicit assumption being that these bad things are the result of Ben’s parenting approach.) List as many of these bad things as possible.
  8. The movie therefore depicts a mixed verdict about the Cash parenting approach: some of the results are awesome, some not so awesome. In this way it invites us to wonder which of Ben’s parenting approaches are good and which not so good. Which of them would you, ideally, like to incorporate into your own parenting approaches?
  9. In the previous question, I say, “ideally”, because incorporating some of Ben Cash’s parenting approaches into your own might be easier said than done. What obstacles (if any) might you encounter in incorporating the good parts of the Ben Cash parenting approach into your own parenting approach?
  10. What other responses do you have to this movie?  (This is an open-ended question that is meant to give you room to do your own thinking.)

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