I was a big fan of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood back in the 70’s. My kids were fans too. The wholesome nature of the program attracted me and made me feel like my family was being influenced in a safe and positive way. Fred Rogers truly cared about children and wanted to help them develop into loving, mature adults. This attitude shined through his show. In early television history, he was a pioneer who realized that children absorb what they see and hear. He understood that much of what they watched would not help them grow and could even produce fear and anxiety.
Challenged Racist Ideas
Fred Rogers broke all the rules of children’s television and succeeded. His quiet respect for his audience drew them. Here was someone who listened and understood their deepest feelings. He didn’t need flashy loud entertainment. At the same time, he could use his platform to speak to important issues such as racism. He knew that wrong attitudes begin early in childhood, and he wanted to do something about that. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, he felt called to serve children through television.
What Critics Said
How did the world view Mr. Rogers? His critics saw him as weak and effeminate. Why? Because he spoke softly. He understood children and knew how to calm their fears. The world is a dangerous place. When you’re a child, an adult who can relate to you as Mr. Rogers did can change your world.
So many shows today indulge the senses, but are they mindful of what a child needs that will help him grow into a responsible, caring adult?
Perhaps you remember the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The town hired him to catch rats. He drew them away with his magic flute, but when the mayor refused to pay him, he retaliated by luring the town’s children while the adults were in church. We cannot afford to fall asleep on our watch while our kids are enticed by unwholesome influences.
A Principled Life
Fred Rogers went against the flow. He didn’t take the easy way out, but lived a principled life and followed his conscience. He read his Bible every day. Fred affected not only children, but also all of America with his love, honesty, and integrity.
Several American icons who championed family values fell from grace and left us feeling disillusioned. There are no skeletons in Fred Rogers’ closet. He was exactly who he appeared to be.
We could use some of that nowadays. We need people in the entertainment industry who will pick up the baton and follow in his footsteps. Writers, producers, and actors can help teach our kids right from wrong and respect for one another, and they can do that in an engaging way.
Mister Rogers Documentary
I recently watched the documentary about Fred Rogers. I highly recommend this inspiring film. The following interview will give some insight into Mr. Roger’s incredible legacy. This video by the producer of the movie says a lot.