Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mister Rogers

During my formative childhood years, my family didn't have a lot of money. Some of my fondest memories include rummaging through hand-me-down clothes from older cousins, "special times" at the mall with my Dad riding the escalators, family outings to Antioch Park, and our annual summer trip to the Lake of the Ozarks. One thing I greatly appreciate about my parents is that they didn't need money to provide us with a great childhood.

As a family with a tight budget, we didn't have cable for many years. Thus PBS programming was a mainstay on our television, especially with three young children separated by only four year in age. Like many who grew up in the 1980's, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was one of my favorite shows. It's been many years since I've thought about the wisdom of Mister Rogers, but a recent article opened my eyes to the value of the program, both culturally and developmentally. Fred Rogers, a devout Christian, taught lessons in imagination, self-esteem, and community ("Won't you be my neighbor?"). He provided children with an example of how to experience and process emotions in a healthy manner. He reminded us of our inherent value with his famous sign-off, "There is no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” I can remember my Mom echoing those words and the warmth and affirmation it brought to my life.

I say all of this to encourage you to read this article chronicling the cultural impact of Fred Rogers and his neighborhood. Reading it today struck a chord in me and for whatever reason brought me encouragement.

- Joel

Jonathan Merritt - "Restoration in the Land of Make-Believe"

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