Earlier this year Fox News aired a report that declared Fred Rogers, the beloved host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, an enemy of children. The report claimed that he ruined a generation of children because he told them that they were special but didn’t tell them that they had to work to be special. Now, those kids have grown to believe that everything is owed to them without any work or effort on their part. This is how they explain the rampant “something for nothing” attitude plaguing the American people, an attitude that leads to welfare abuse and a desire for government handouts of all kinds.
After careful analysis I have come to the conclusion that this report is total bullshit! First I don’t believe that the American people have a sense of entitlement. As with any society there will be those that abuse the social systems, but the whole concept of the “American Dream” is the belief that anyone can work hard, save their pennies and earn their house, two car garage and 2.5 kids.
Second, in my opinion, Fred Rogers was a giant in the field of children’s education and development. His simple style kept children entertained and educated without overwhelming them. He wrote most of the songs performed on his show and more than 36 books to help kids with issues that mattered to them like going to the doctor, making friends and dealing with a new baby in the house, And, his testimony in front of the U.S. Senate in 1969 left them so impressed that they more than doubled government funding for public education television (1971 PBS budget raised from $9 to 22 million).
I grew up watching Mr. Rogers. He taught me what it meant to be part of a neighborhood. He taught me that it was OK to play make-believe and that it was OK to dream of faraway places and cool adventures with interesting characters. He taught me about sharing and about being nice to people. He taught me that it was OK to be me, no matter what “me” was. I don’t remember being taught that I didn’t have to work for the things I want in life. I certainly don’t remember being taught the world owed me things.
I would suggest that the problem isn’t with Mr. Rogers. As great as he was, at the end of the day he was still just the host of a kids’ tv show. I would suggest the blame for this “the world owes me” attitude should be placed squarely in the lap of the parents and other adults who for one reason or another did not supplement Mr. Rogers’ teachings with lessons of their own. it was (and is) up to parents and elders to educate children about life.
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood ran from 1968 – 2001. Fred Rogers died of stomach cancer in September 2003 at age 74. RIP Mr. Rogers.