While most of us parents grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, there is a generation of kids that have missed out on this riveting, edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Ok, well, maybe it wasn’t a digitally-mastered cartoon that looked like it was going to reach out and grab you from within the TV screen. But it was the late 60’s when it started, what do you expect?
But even now in 2019, there are an abundance of life lessons that we can take from Mister Rogers. Especially now in what seems to be a divided nation and world, there are some reminders from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes that I think would be beneficial to review here. Read them, meditate on them, talk about them with your kids, apply them to your life. Seriously, some of these life lessons seemed so profound back in the 60’s and 70’s, but today, they are applicable to our everyday lives.
Life Lesson #1 – Humanity’s Intrinsic Value
“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”
Our goal in life, and as parents, should be to uplift those around us. This means we should embrace our children’s differences and help them to foster their unique selves. Encourage your kids to be creative and discover what their passions are in life and what makes them who they are and who they want to be.
Life Lesson #2 – Accept Your Feelings (But Learn to Deal with Them in a Healthy Way)
“There’s no ‘should’ or ‘should not’ when it comes to having feelings. They’re part of who we are and their origins are beyond our control. When we can believe that, we may find it easier to make constructive choices about what to do with those feelings.”
Even at a young age, children have a myriad of emotions. If we get overwhelmed with those emotions, we will never learn how to manage them appropriately. Even worse, if these emotions are overwhelming for us, imagine how they feel to our children! Learning how to handle and process the emotions we have in life will only help us in the long run. Not only that, but our children will be more capable of discerning what and how they feel about certain things happening in their lives.
Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.”
Personally, I have a HUGE problem with asking for help and comfort. I’d rather bottle up my emotions and just plow through them. I don’t want to inconvenience someone with my feelings and how to process them. I don’t want to place my burden on someone else. If we as adults do this, and we know more of what’s going on with our lives, how do we think our children are going to be able to work through their emotions when they have no idea what’s going on?
We should not be scared or afraid to let our children feel their emotions. Don’t try to toughen them up to avoid the “feelings.” Let them cry. Let them laugh hysterically. Let them process things the way that works best for them.
Life Lesson #3 – Love Always Wins
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person, exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
I think we need to show our children that we love them, regardless of the mistakes they make, the lies they tell, the attitude they give us. Children need to know and constantly be reminded that we love them unconditionally. Not just our children, but those close to us in our lives need that reminder at times too. Children don’t just need to know that WE love them unconditionally, but I think they themselves need to learn how to love unconditionally. Children should know that they are going to meet other kids that are different. In school, in church, in sports, basically everywhere. This happens to everyone, every day, all throughout life. This is honestly something we will never escape, and something we should always be aware of.
Where are children going to learn to accept others just as they are? HOME. They are going to see and follow the example that you set. If your son or daughter sees you making fun of someone for what they believe in, or the color of their skin, or who they love, they are going to in turn follow that example. We need to do better. We need to be better. At the end of the day, we are all part of the human race. We need to love each other, despite the differences we have. This is what makes us better people.
There were almost 900 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood over the 33 years it was on TV. Even though the last episode aired 18 years ago, the lessons that were taught on his show are still appropriate today. Look back and see how many quotes can be attributed to Fred Rogers and then see how they can be applied to your daily life. I think you’ll be surprised at the wisdom he espoused through the decades and how much his lessons resound with us today!