To say I’ve been eagerly anticipating the film Raising a Wild Child is a massive understatement. The buzz surrounding the release of this female directed and mama-inspired labour of love has been bubbling away and gaining momentum on Instagram for the past few months. The idea for the film was organically conceived, fuelled by unprecedented social media support and made possible by funding received through a Kickstarter campaign.
Director and co-founder of the Born Wild Project, Aly Nicklas set out to tell the story of a handful of millennial parents turned social-media influencers who use the very technologies that threaten to separate them from nature to connect with it – and each other – instead. The irony of these two conflicting forces complementing each other is incredibly powerful. Instinctively, I’ve always opposed the rise of social media, fearing the disconnect it causes in real-life relationships. So, witnessing the opposite unfold is inspiring; challenging me to remind myself the mantra of being the branch bending in the breeze, rather than breaking, can be positively applied to all facets of our lives.
The parents in the film are filled with light and hope; taking bold and decisive action towards giving their children what their instincts are telling them they need, rather than what society is dishing out. Our world is changing at a rapid rate and in many ways, not for the better, especially when it comes to childhood. Our children are facing a warming planet and waning lifespans. Rates of obesity, mental and emotional health issues and chronic disease are soaring and crippling our kids. Many believe, as do I, that one of the primary causes of our children’s issues stems from a lack of time spent immersed in nature, or as Richard Louv calls it: nature-deficit disorder.
How can children learn to love the planet they’ll need to someday protect if they’re not connected to it?
It’s no secret that the average American child spends seven hours in front of a screen every day and only five minutes playing freely in the great outdoors. Mothers have been arrested for allowing their children to play outside or ride their bike without adult supervision. Parents are putting leashes on children to walk them around shopping centres as if they’re wild animals who can’t be trusted. Preschoolers are asked to sit for extended periods of time when every fibre of their being is screaming at them to run, jump and play. And babies are succumbing to “container baby syndrome” as they’re spending excessive numbers of hours in car seats, strollers, baby swings and bouncers rather than in the arms of their parents or being worn as nature intended.
Just like us, their parents, kids are overwhelmed by the pressures of society; they’re drowning in an ocean of material possessions, suffocated by a lack of free time and depressed by a processed, one-size-fits-all approach to childhood. Its refreshing to see a group of down-to-earth, respectful and conscious parents walking their talk and freeing their children of the expectations of modern day society.
Raising a Wild Child is about showing that nature is the antidote we all crave. As Shannon Robertson so poignantly says in the film, “Outside everything slows down, the speed limit slows down.” As a mother of a three-year-old I know exactly what she means. Whenever I’m outside with my son, whether we’re playing in the snow, searching for worms in our backyard or hiking in the mountains the intensity our interaction is immediately dialled back. His boundless energy is channeled organically through movement, his mind is quiet and I’m reminded of what really matters. Worries melt away and we’re free to be the best versions of ourselves, elevating our sacred relationship in the process.
“When I’m outside I feel like I’m a better version of mother I want to be—more kind, more patient, more playful, more brave and a little more wise” Brooke Froelich
Our children couldn’t ask for a better teacher than Mother Earth. And we couldn’t ask for better teachers than our children. But in order to reap the benefits we need to challenge ourselves to step outside the bounds of the shrinking comfort zones our fearful cultures are creating. Since watching this free film five days ago, I’ve been deep in thought about the life I want to create for my son. By conventional standards we’re already well outside the box, but this tribe of young parents oozing authenticity and mama-bear courage are fuelling my confidence and sparking my imagination about what could truly be possible if I dare.
When Morgan Brechler contemplated the direction of her own family’s life, she asked herself one simple question; how may hours per week was she spending with her daughter, Hadlie? The answer was unacceptable to her because it brought into sharp relief the fact that someone else was raising her child. So, she quit her job, sold her possessions and with her family she hit the open road. They live simply and radiate minimalism, proving that when we let go of the things in our life that don’t make us happy we create space for those that do to take hold and flourish.
“I want to make sure my children’s memories take them back to the wild places we went, to the campfires we laughed around and the endless starry nights we spent sleeping under.” Morgan Brechler
While such an extreme move may not be for everyone, Brechler’s example shows there is no stronger force for change than the power lying within each of us created by having and acting on a strong conviction. Our over-scheduled, over-worked, over-caffienated society threatens to squash our instincts. We can’t hear what they’re trying to tell us above the noise created by expectation and obligation. But, they’re there. And this fourteen minute film may just be what you need to rouse your instincts today. To bring them out of hibernation.
It’s difficult as a parent to follow a path less travelled, to opt out, to say no and choose instead to spend our time intentionally connecting with our children and our planet. To others, it may look like we’re missing out. Yet, it’s in the stillness, in the quiet moments spent in wild places that the richness and magic truly lies.
Perhaps what excites me most about Raising a Wild Child, the first film in a series by the Born Wild Project, is that it reminds me I’m not alone. Parents are saying enough is enough. A movement is growing and community is being created. I’d love to finish this post with the beautiful words of Alisa Geiser who says it so well.
“This is a story about a handful of parents taking their kids back into the wilderness. Its a simple story. A quiet revolution of soft footsteps along an ancient path. The way in which we share the world with our children is an important choice, one that not only impacts their health but also the health of the planet they’ll inherit. Every adventure you take. Every mountain you climb – you create a path for others to follow. Where will your path lead?”