Some of you may remember Fred Rogers as an American educator, Presbyterian minister, songwriter, author, or television host, but most remember simply by saying "Mister Rogers".
Each episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" began the same way: Mister Rogers is seen coming home, singing his theme song "Won't You Be My Neighbor?", and changing into his sneakers and infamous old man cardigan sweater.
I am pretty confident that Mister Rogers made cardigans look cool for first time ever, or maybe it is just the comfortable old man in me speaking.
What many people didn't know about Fred Roger is how much of an advocate he was.
May 1, 1969
- President Nixon attempts to decrease funding to PBS by 50% ($20 million --> $10 million).
- Fred Rogers goes before the Senate to defend the funding to PBS.
- Fred Rogers defends children, the messages we send to our younger population through television, the mental health field, therapy/counseling, and emotional expression.
- Fred Rogers proclaims the dramatic power of emotional expression amongst men (at this time many male soldiers were coming back from Vietnam).
In the late 1960's, Fred Rogers made it crystal clear that he was deeply concerned with what was being delivered to our children via television and radio. Working with children most of his life, Fred, was driven to understand children's needs and the "inner drama of childhood".
For those parents that wish to provide their children with the best opportunities given your situation and resources listen closely to the message being conveyed by Fred Rogers.
"This is what I give. I give an expression of care
every day to each child,
to help him realize that he is unique."
Mister Rogers focuses on fulfilling a child's need of significance and connection/love.
He fulfills their need of significance through making the children feel unique, important, and noticed by just being who they are, nothing more.
He fulfills their need of connection/love through listening to the children, spending time with them, and overtly vesting interest in their well-being.
Here are a few messages Fred was trying to get across in his Senate Hearing in 1969:
1. You are unique, just the way you are
2. Feelings are mentionable and manageable
3. Managing your feelings is far more dramatic then showing violence
4. We can model these principles through television and parenting
Watch the actual Senate Hearing in 1969 and see how Fred Rogers gets Senator Pastore of Rhode Island to admit he got "goosebumps".