Right. First off, we're going to start by saying that the whole thing is stupid. (Witness the fact that the first I found about this was a Fox News clip
What is stupid? The idea that Mr. Rogers is the blame for the overblown sense of entitlement that today's American adults suffer from.
That's right, Mr. Rogers.
Now I didn't watch Mr. Rogers a lot as a kid. His show was mostly around during one of our "we don't have TV" phases, so I only saw it on occasion when I was at a friend's house. But I've seen enough to know what the show was like. And it was not
about entitlement. In fact, let's let Mr. Rogers himself tell you what it was
"My whole approach in broadcasting has always been "You are an important person just the way you are. You can make healthy decisions." Maybe I'm going on too long, but I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important."
So the two message of Mr. Rogers were "You are important" and "You are in control of your own life."
the message had only been part one, I could see it. Kind of. Sort of. Just a little. Telling people that they are important is, indeed, something that can lead to a sense of entitlement. But even then, I myself find from what I've seen of parenting and people with an overblown sense of their self worth, we still
wouldn't be able to pin the blame on Mr. Rogers even if "You are important" was the sole theme of his show. Because it's not "You are important" that does the damage, it's "You are more
important." Your time is more valuable than the time of a lowly clerk. Your money is more important than the money of other clients. Your happiness is more important then the happiness of your spouse. That's what does it. And that's something that Mr. Rogers would never have taught.
And let me tell you right now - knowing that you, yourself, are important and special makes a huge
difference. I was brought up to believe that I was special. I was a not just a creation of God, but a Child of God. I was divine. And so was everybody else, and I should respect myself, and respect others in the same way. And that was, as far as I can tell, the dividing line between myself and a number of other people I've talked to who contemplated suicide in their teenage years. I went through some very
bad patches when I was younger, and another even worse patch only a year or so ago. And a huge part of how I was able to cope and get through all that was knowing that I was of value, that I had worth and potential. I knew that. That is one thing I am pretty sure all suicides have in common. They do not regard their own lives as valuable.
So teach self-esteem! Teach your kids they're worth something! They need to know that. Yes you also need to teach them a lot of other things, or else they'll come out warped and entitled, but having self esteem and having a sense of entitlement are not
the same thing. Believing you are of worth is not the same as believing you are better than everybody else. And I'm sure Mr. Rogers knew that perfectly well! After all, we kids watched the show with our friends and siblings, and he was telling them that they were special too, wasn't he?More about Mr. Rogers
for anybody who doesn't know. The man was, honestly, the closest things modern America has had to a real saint.