Takeaway: Mr Rogers really was wise.
Over the weekend there were a bunch of sales on kindle books. I picked this up for $0.44. And at that price is was a steal. The kindle price is now up to almost $10 so much less attractive.
This is a very short books, in paper it looks like a gift book size. In audio it is only 75 minutes.
It was edited by Fred Roger’s wife from various speeches and articles that he wrote. Each page has a few lines, just one thought. There are a couple roughly themed chapters, but really this is intended to be browsed through looking for the nugget that will speak to you where you are right now.
I do not have kids of my own, but nanny my two nieces (2 and 3). I think I highlighted about a third of the book. What Mr Rogers seems to be good at is encouraging parents to be good parents. This seems to be the theme of the book:
Looking back over the years of parenting that my wife and I have done with our two boys, I feel good about who we are and what we’ve done. I don’t mean we were perfect parents. Not at all. Our years with our children were marked by plenty of inappropriate responses. Both Joanne and I can recall many times when we wish now we’d said or done something different. But we didn’t, and we’ve learned not to feel too guilty about that. What gives me my good feelings is that we always cared and always tried to do our best. Our two sons are very different one from the other; yet, at the core of each of them there seems to be a basic kindness, a caring, and a willingness to try. I’ve heard young parents complain about the way they were treated by their own parents, and they say, “I’ll never make that mistake with my kids!” And probably the most honest response to that is, “Perhaps you won’t make that mistake, but you’ll surely make your own different ones.” Well, we certainly made our share of mistakes.
I am not a fan of reviews that just have a lot of quotes. But I do not know what else can better illustrate the book. So here are some of the best.
There is an inner rhythm which sets the normal beat for human growth. We need to respect that rhythm in ourselves, our friends, and in the children with whom we live and work. Healthy babies grow from one phase to another in a predictable way. Human beings have to learn to crawl before they learn to walk. And when we’re ready to crawl, we’ll find every chance we can to crawl and crawl and crawl—and we don’t want people to stop us from crawling, and we don’t want people to hurry us to walk.
I have come to realize how important the limits we set for our children are for the development of their creativity: When we won’t let them do exactly what they want to do, they have to search out new alternatives.
The anger we feel toward our children often comes from our own needs. When a child embarrasses us in a store, we feel others are looking at us and thinking, “What a bad parent!” Or maybe after we’ve spent a lot of time and effort to make a particular mealtime dish, our child refuses to eat it. That can make us feel that it’s not only our food that’s being rejected, but we ourselves, as well. Sometimes when our children are dependent and whining, we might feel our own impulses to be plaintive and demanding, too. We don’t want to be reminded of those feelings in us, and so we might even surprise ourselves by reacting really strongly to our children’s whining. When we begin to understand some of the many feelings we bring to our parenting, we can be more forgiving of ourselves. We want to think of ourselves as nurturing people.
Love, I feel quite certain, is at the root of all healthy discipline. The desire to be loved is a powerful motivation for children to behave in ways that give their parents pleasure rather than displeasure. It may even be our own long-ago fear of losing our parents’ love that now sometimes makes us uneasy about setting and maintaining limits. We’re afraid we’ll lose the love of our children when we don’t let them have their way. So we parents need to try to find the security within ourselves to accept the fact that we and our children won’t always like one another’s actions, that there will be times when we and our children won’t be able to be “friends,” and that there will be times of anger within the family.
Parents don’t come full bloom at the birth of their first baby. In fact, parenting is about growing. It’s about our own growing as much as our children’s growing, and that kind of growing happens little by little. It’s tempting to think “a little” isn’t significant and that only “a lot” matters. But most things that are important in life start very small and change very slowly, and they don’t come with fanfare and bright lights.
Being a parent is a complex thing. It involves trying to feel what our children are feeling and trying to know just how much to do to help them with what they cannot yet do for themselves. It involves understanding the difference between sympathy and empathy. Doing just enough for somebody so that person can grow and do all that he or she is capable of doing—that’s a large order.