When Father’s Day rolls around each year, we celebrate the male role models who’ve made a true difference in our lives. And who has made more of a difference in the lives of kids and parents alike than Mr. Rogers?
Winnie users have been reminiscing about Mr. Rogers this week on the heels of the new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and a heartwarming piece in The Atlantic celebrating the gentle, thoughtful way Mr. Rogers spoke to children.
The amazing thing about Mr. Rogers is that, even though his show has been off the air for almost two decades, you can still feel the undeniable impact of his kindness, compassion, and love for kids. Mr. Rogers transcended TV and made each of us feel like we were a part of his magical neighborhood. His legacy is carried on not just through the spin-off show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, but by us — the kids who watched his show each day and grew up to have kids of our own. Here are the five most important parenting lessons we learned from Mr. Rogers.
1. Make your kids feel heard.
Mr. Rogers never seemed too busy, too stressed, or too in a hurry to make every kid he met feel like he had time for them. He was so unlike other adult in our lives, who were always rushing off to work or running errands. Life hasn’t gotten less frantic since we were kids. In fact, it’s safe to assume most of us are busier than ever. But in the midst of it all, Mr. Rogers is that little voice in our heads, reminding us to take an extra minute with our kids, make eye contact, and really hear the things they want to tell us.
2. Appreciate the little things.
The basic premise of every Mr. Rogers episode was that it was a good day in the neighborhood and he couldn’t wait to get outside and say hello to his neighbors, celebrate the people in his community, and learn something new. One of the first things he said on every episode was, “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day.” These days, the pressure is on to be the most awesome, entertaining parents ever, but Mr. Rogers’ infectious excitement about life is all the reminder we need to marvel at the little things that make every day a grand adventure.
3. Anger and sadness are important emotions, too.
It’s not easy for anyone to express sadness or anger, especially not little kids (hello, tantrums). But Mr. Rogers was one of the first, if not the only, people to teach all of us that negative emotions are normal and that it’s important and brave to talk about how you feel. Next time your kid has a meltdown at Target, ask yourself, what would Mr. Rogers do? Suddenly those crocodile tears will be a whole lot easier to understand.
4. Never stop learning and trying new things.
Mr. Rogers approached everything with an open mind, never stopped asking questions, and certainly wasn’t afraid to put himself out there. Whether he was visiting a crayon factory or learning how to bust a move, he was genuinely interested in other people’s ideas and how other people lived, and he was always excited to learn something new about the world around him. He had endless curiosity, just like our kids do, and to remember any Mr. Rogers episode is to remember how important it is to embrace that curiosity, every day.
5. Every kid is perfect, just the way they are.
“I like you just the way you are.” It’s such a simple statement, but the impact is powerful. Mr. Rogers made each of us feel like we were truly unique, special, and worthwhile. That had a profound impact on most of us when we were little, and it’s an impact we can pass along every day by extending that same unconditional love and acceptance to our own children.
Tell us why you loved Mr. Rogers on Winnie.