Forming Our Kids Through Movies

Parents can use "movie night" with their kids to teach valuable lessons on how to live as Catholics.

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Friday night is movie night for my wife, my five daughters, and me. We select a film, bake a pizza, and sit around the dinner table to enjoy some time together after a long week of work and school.

A few weeks ago, we were watching the second half of The Sound of Music. Since it is such a long film, we had decided to dedicate two sessions to it. The first part focuses on Maria, the von Trapp children’s governess, and her journey from novice in the local convent in Salzburg, Austria, to Captain von Trapp’s wife. The second half centers around the new family’s struggle against the Third Reich after Austria’s annexation by Germany.  

The family patriarch, naval captain Georg von Trapp, finds himself having to flee Austria together with his new wife and his seven children when the local Nazi party leader, Herr Zeller, embarks on a systematic pressure “campaign” to force him to enlist in the German navy. Being a true Austrian patriot, Captain von Trapp refuses and manages to smuggle his family into Switzerland. 

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My wife and I were quite struck by the sad and alarming parallels between the von Trapps’ plight and our own family’s experience of life as Christians in contemporary America. In the movie, the Captain, his wife, and his children are surrounded by a political culture that imposes its ideology on them with increasing intensity. My family is Christian. Specifically, we are Roman Catholic. My wife and I are trying hard to transmit the Faith of the Catholic Church to our daughters—ages 7 ½ to 4 months. In America today, the threats to our mission as Christian parents are formidable. 

Just as the von Trapps were being pressured to submit to Nazi ideology, we are pressured to submit to Liberal Progressive ideology. The most insidious for us as a family are the LGBTQ and transgender agendas. These specifically target our children. We have to preview every movie that Disney puts out. Encanto, Luca, and Frozen are anathema in our house. All three preach the gay gospel to varying degrees. We have to preview every movie that Disney puts out. Encanto, Luca, and Frozen are anathema in our house. All three preach the gay gospel to varying degrees.Tweet This

We find ourselves having to peruse the books friends and family offer our daughters before handing them over. So much of today’s children’s literature follows a contrived “oppressed victim” plotline. It is thinly veiled Marxism.

In watching The Sound of Music together, we were able to discuss this social pressure with our girls. We talked about the Captain’s decision to flee Austria, why he did that, and the threat against which he was trying to defend his family. One character, Rolfe, served as an example of the fact that people are not evil or bad because they subscribe to evil political theories or ideologies. They are tragically mistaken. As Christians, we are called to pray for those who have been deceived. 

Rolfe is an adolescent Austrian boy who is in love with Captain von Trapp’s oldest daughter, Liesl. She is, as the title of the romantic number describes her, “16 going on 17.” Sadly, Rolfe becomes entangled with the Nazi party and distances himself from Liesl. Toward the conclusion of the movie, there is a scene during which Captain von Trapp, in a powerfully fatherly way, tries to convince Rolfe to escape with them. He almost succeeds, but the indoctrination to which the boy has been subjected proves too strong.

The characters in The Sound of Music became perfect examples for our daughters of the need for courage to be witnesses to the truth in today’s wounded world. Captain von Trapp displays that courage several times. Max Detweiler, a money-hungry yet loyal friend, ultimately helps the von Trapps escape at terrible personal risk. Maria’s former mother abbess and the other sisters in the convent also risk their lives to help her and her new family hide from a Nazi search party. These characters personify the truth either in word or deed. 

This present school year is our two oldest girls’ first at a new school. We removed them from their previous school, a Catholic parochial one, because it is in the process of succumbing to the diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda. After spending all last year having to tell our oldest daughter’s school counselors to stop reading books to her that appear on the LGBTQ approved children’s literature list, we prayed and searched for an alternative. Thank God, we found a place that supports us. Taking our daughters out of that failing Catholic school was an act of witness to the truth. It was not easy. We had to leave a comfortable situation. 

At the end of that Friday night, when the film was over and the girls were asleep, my wife and I realized that that evening had been more than just another family movie night. The Sound of Music had presented a platform for us to have a serious discussion with our children. The von Trapps’ fidelity to the truth and the price they paid for it gave my wife and I the opportunity to explain to the girls why our life is so different from the lives of many of the people they know and love.

The movie provided a simple, visual means for the girls to understand that it is better to adhere to Faith and truth, even if doing so results in moments of precariousness or suffering at the hands of the world.  I do not know the depths of depravity to which our country is going to descend in the coming years. I am terrified by the prospect of losing my girls to the seductions of the evil one. Only God knows how much more of this He is going to permit, but the fight for our daughters’ souls cannot stop for one moment.

I am grateful for movies like The Sound of Music. It always amazes me to see how Providence gives us such unexpected and simple means of resistance against the darkness. We are in the middle of it now. It is our present fight for the light that shines in the darkness.    


  • Francisco Zuniga

    Francisco Zuniga is a 16-year veteran of Catholic education with experience teaching language arts at the elementary and middle school levels. Francisco has contributed news articles and commentary pieces to online publications American Briefing and Prolife Update. He holds a masters degree in philosophy from George Mason University. Francisco and his wife live in Silver Spring, Maryland with their five daughters.

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