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Blame Everyone But Yourselves

Give. Me. A. Break. Seriously? We're going to blame the bad actions of current college kids on Mister Rogers?
Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University, says it dawned on him last spring. The semester was ending, and as usual, students were making a pilgrimage to his office, asking for the extra points needed to lift their grades to A's.

"They felt so entitled," he recalls, "and it just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers."

Fred Rogers, the late TV icon, told several generations of children that they were "special" just for being whoever they were. He meant well, and he was a sterling role model in many ways. But what often got lost in his self-esteem-building patter was the idea that being special comes from working hard and having high expectations for yourself.

Now Mr. Rogers, like Dr. Spock before him, has been targeted for re-evaluation. And he's not the only one. As educators and researchers struggle to define the new parameters of parenting, circa 2007, some are revisiting the language of child ego-boosting. What are the downsides of telling kids they're special? Is it a mistake to have children call us by our first names? When we focus all conversations on our children's lives, are we denying them the insights found when adults talk about adult things?

Some are calling for a recalibration of the mind-sets and catch-phrases that have taken hold in recent decades. Among the expressions now being challenged:

"You're special." On the Yahoo Answers Web site, a discussion thread about Mr. Rogers begins with this posting: "Mr. Rogers spent years telling little creeps that he liked them just the way they were. He should have been telling them there was a lot of room for improvement. ... Nice as he was, and as good as his intentions may have been, he did a disservice."

Signs of narcissism among college students have been rising for 25 years, according to a recent study led by a San Diego State University psychologist. Obviously, Mr. Rogers alone can't be blamed for this. But as Prof. Chance sees it, "he's representative of a culture of excessive doting."
No. You tweed-jacket-wearing-asshats are wrong.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was a great show. The guy was a staple of the Children's Television Workshop for as long as I can remember. He didn't breed narcissism and bad attitudes with his positive rhetoric. I don't care what these eggheaded professor-types say, it is up to the parents to raise their kids properly.

For example, I'm raising my kids to refer to other adults as "Mister So-and-so" or "Mrs So-and-so". That's just how I roll. My parents taught me to respect my elders, and that's what I'm doing with my kids. This is not a judgment on parents who choose to allow their kids to refer to adults by their first names -- that is their prerogative. But, as a parent I think that it is paramount that my kids understand the level of respect that is commanded by an adult, regardless of their relationship to my kids -- particularly if the adult is a senior citizen.

My point is that this complaint should not be filed with Mister Rogers or any other 'warm and fuzzy' television program (I'm looking at you, Romper Room). Rather, this criticism should be filed with lazy parents who give their kids whatever they want, whenever they want it.

It's called personal responsibility folks. Look it up.