Lessons from Daniel Tiger


Author Amy Hollingsworth wrote the following about Fred Rogers in her book The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers:

Every day he taught God’s message without preaching a word.

Fred Rogers is one of the very few celebrities in this world I still hold in high esteem. Whenever I’m down or frustrated, I watch an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. When I am angry at others, I watch interviews of him interacting with other adults. I try to channel his care and calmness in my classroom teaching. To me, he is one of the best examples we have had of Christian conduct in modern culture. While I understand we have God’s word to explain so much to us, Fred Rogers has had an effect on me in that I can see those teachings exemplified in the conduct of such a public figure.

Mr. Rogers took the moral of the good Samaritan parable – that we are all neighbors one to another – and turned it into a regular children’s show. Not only was he teaching children during his half-hour program, but he taught adults as well. He taught us how to be patient, how to listen, how to be both trusting and trustworthy. He imparted God’s message without so much as a scripture, all the time asking us to care for each other as neighbors. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Please won’t you be my neighbor? 

That legacy continues in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which is one of the very few television shows my daughter gets to watch. (The other regular is Dinosaur Train, if you must know. Other than that, she occasionally watches YouTube videos of ballet and astronauts – separately. Okay, rabbit chase done.) And I have to say it is one of the most positive things on television today. Every episode demonstrates such care and kindness between the characters, it’s almost unbelievable. Every aspect of the show seems planned around providing the best example it can to children and parents.

Also, every episode features a short song snippet that gets repeated throughout the episode, reinforcing the lesson of the day. The characters may sing about taking turns, trying new things, sharing, helping, or dealing with anger. Over the next few posts, I want to take some of these songs and look at the lessons they teach and what we adults can learn from them in our Christian walks. In Matthew 18, Jesus says we should all become like little children, so I’m inviting you to join me over the next few weeks in shelving my jaded and sometimes frustrated adulthood and becoming more childlike. And perhaps some of these lessons from the Land of Make Believe will help us make a better reality for ourselves in this world.

Trolly, take us home!

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