August 14, 2007

mr. rogers My good friend Pasquale (a.k.a. “Mr. Waltham”) alerted me to this article by Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal, who writes how educators and researchers have begun taking a second look at that icon of children’s television, Mr. Rogers, and his influence over several generations of parents and children now approaching their own adulthood:

Fred Rogers, the late TV icon, told several generations of children that they were “special” just for being whoever they were. He meant well, and he was a sterling role model in many ways. But what often got lost in his self-esteem-building patter was the idea that being special comes from working hard and having high expectations for yourself.

Now Mr. Rogers, like Dr. Spock before him, has been targeted for re-evaluation. And he’s not the only one. As educators and researchers struggle to define the new parameters of parenting, circa 2007, some are revisiting the language of child ego-boosting. What are the downsides of telling kids they’re special? Is it a mistake to have children call us by our first names? When we focus all conversations on our children’s lives, are we denying them the insights found when adults talk about adult things?

I was too old for the Mr. Rogers series, but every now and then you couldn’t help but catch him from time to time, and he was OK. Kinda dopey if you ask me, but definitely a whole lot better than the awful crap they have for kids on television and video games today. I never really thought about it, but I do think there’s something to this article, although to point the blame for a lot of what’s going on today on good ol’ Mr. Rogers seems a bit over the top to me. Was he a cause, or simply a reflection of a change in attitudes towards parenting and children? One certainly cannot deny the way relations between parents and their children have changed since I was a kid, and this whole idea of making children the focus of television commercials and/or the “smartest” people in television commercials (keep track of this the next time you’re watching TV – notice how the children are always either smarter than the adults or the focus of the product being sold) has always annoyed the hell out of me.

Because I travel a lot and do the shopping for our household, I can’t help but notice how much things have changed. At airports, you see six year-olds dragging their own kiddie luggage around. At supermarkets, you see parents asking their children what kind of snacks and food they want them to purchase. And don’t even get me started on that whole thing where fathers call their sons “buddy”, or that child/parent first name business, or parents asking their children when they want to get picked up from whatever activity they’re off to. You see, when I was young, you didn’t have any rights. You ate what your parents put in front of you, you wore what they bought you, and and life didn’t revolve around you, your needs, or your schedule. That was for grown-ups to decide. I don’t recall ever being told how ‘special’ I was, but I certainly knew I was loved. Did I have self-esteem issues? Yeah, like just about ever other teenager my age growing up, but I don’t see that as being necessarily a bad thing.

Frankly, I don’t buy the whole ‘special’ and ‘precious’ thing when it comes to children today. After all, they may indeed be precious and special and the focus of their parents’ lives while they live under their parents’ roofs, but if they expect to be given the same treatment by society once they’re out of the house, they’ve got another thing coming. I’ve always felt the primary role of parents is love their children, provide them a safe and secure homelife, and – most importantly – prepare them for life after the nest, not bestowing upon them every material wish they have in order to: a) show them how special they are, or b) to cultivate their love and affection. In my view, to do either amounts to a dereliction of duty that creates more problems for society in the end than anything else.

I often wonder what will happen when this child-centric, spoiled generation is all grown up with children of their own. Will they be able to handle the challenges, difficulties, and setbacks life hands out to everyone on a regular basis? I often wonder. While Mr. Rogers and his enduring influence might be a reflection, or even a small part, of the problem, I think there are plenty of other causes for people to focus on. Either way, I don’t see any kind of easy solution in sight.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:48 | Comments Off on Blame it on Mr. Rogers?
No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Search The Site

Recent Items


September 2021
April 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006



4 Goodboys Only

Site Info