6 Things I Learned from the Dad in “Swiss Family Robinson”

  by Erik Wolgemuth

From the first time I watched the Disney classic Swiss Family Robinson, I remember being hooked. And now, as a dad, settling in to watch the movie with my kids, I couldn’t wait to introduce them to one of my childhood favorites.

While the movie lacks a bit in the PC department – as I’m finding to be true with a number of “classic” movies from childhood – a new realization hit me as we were watching: I found myself fascinated with Father (William) Robinson. The guy put on a bit of a dadcraft showcase over the course of the movie.

Shipwrecked island living or not, here are 6 things to learn from the Dad Robinson…

1.  Play with Your Kids

Being shipwrecked on a deserted island teeming with all sorts of dangerous wildlife requires a good shelter as the first order of business. So, having knocked that out, the Robinson’s opt for a little R&R and dad leads the way. Waterfall grotto, hanging vines, and rock/waterslide aren’t just for the boys…Robinson is right in the mix, laughing and playing alongside his kids.

2.  Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

As downtime at the waterfall grotto starts wrapping up, a gauntlet is thrown: is it possible to swing from one vine and then transfer over to another mid-flight (mimicking the surrounding monkey population)? Fritz (the oldest boy) accepts and conquers the challenge. Robinson is next and crashes spectacularly into the water to the delight of his boys (and mild amusement of his wife). Yes, he solidly accepts his role to protect and provide for his family that’s in severe risk, but he isn’t above some tricky vine swinging and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

3.  Speak Confidence and Trust into Your Kids

With treehouse living established and thriving, it’s time to get the lay of the land and see if rescue is possible. Best way to do that? Send out a search party to explore the island. Robinson equips his oldest boys, Fritz and Ernst, with the equipment they need and speaks his confidence and trust over them to exercise wisdom and discernment in their crucial errand.

4.  Break the Script

A hostage rescue, impending pirate attack, and some brotherly jealousy has tempers running hot for the Robinson boys. And in the midst of constructing defensive preparations against pirates, a fight breaks out between Fritz and Ernst. When Robinson intervenes, he diffuses the situation by breaking the script. Work can wait, it’s time for a day of celebration together…Robinson recognizes that there needs to be some laughter and joy infused back into the family and breaks the script to get them there.

5.  Encourage Your Kids’ Dreams

What deserted island is complete without a ferocious, man-eating, tiger? Thankfully the Robinson’s island is no exception to this rule, and Francis, the youngest of the Robinson boys, sets his mind to catching the tiger as a nice way to bolster their defenses. Scoffed at by his brothers because of the absurdity of the idea, Robinson instead embraces Francis’ dream and works with him to accomplish it. A pit is dug, bait is set, and the tiger is caught.

6.  Your Family is a Team

No member of the family – regardless of age or ability – is expendable. Each is to be valued, loved, and cared for. This is what Robinson exemplifies start to finish. He’s the first to work on behalf of his family, the first to see what’s needed for his family, and the first to sacrifice on behalf of his family.


Since you’re likely not on a deserted island, you may want to check out our media recommendations. If you are on a deserted island, perhaps Amazon will deliver some of our Favorites.

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