Never underestimate the therapeutic power of compassion and kindness. Healing communication can be heart felt through letters, videos, books, or yes, even texts.
One of the greatest gifts one human can give another is understanding and acceptance of our feelings and emotions.
This is my story of healing, and compassionate communication from Fred Rogers.
Life transitions often trigger fear, grief, and loss. Even though this is the “stuff” of living, we often need support to move through anticipated or sudden changes.
As a first time mom back in the 1990s, I loved being my son Sam’s full time parent during the summer months while my husband Norm was working. I was so blessed to have a faculty employment position. Summer was free from teaching and counseling responsibilities.
I brought Sam to story times, swimming pools, gyms, and playdates. We constructed towers with blocks, listened to music, read books, created and played musical instruments, and painted. We staged Disney character worlds.
And every afternoon of our hot Sonoran desert summers, we sat on the floor of our cool home and visited Mister Rogers Neighborhood through the “magic of television”. Among many other features of the broadcast, Mr. Rogers wrote, played and sang songs to help children express their feelings.
Helping children work through feelings, and simply validate emotions, was Mr. Rogers mission through television.
In addition to his very talented cast, he featured professional musical guests in the neighborhood such as YoYo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, and Itzhak Perlman.
My musically gifted son could not get enough of Mr. Rogers.
Most importantly, Fred Rogers emanated kindness and compassion.
We both loved this show.
Media attention has been focused recently on Fred Rogers and the 50th birthday of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.
I would like to share, in this very personal and public forum, some clips from our treasured letters from Mr. Rogers.
Compassionate Words from Fred Rogers
As summer drew to a close, I felt very sad and teary eyed about the imminent necessity of returning to work. One afternoon, I hand wrote a letter to Mr. Rogers expressing my sadness, as well as my gratitude for his offerings. I have taken the liberty of italicizing his most profound compassionate and kind words from the letter above.
Thank you for your beautiful letter. We are deeply grateful to know what our program has meant to you and to your son Samuel over the summertime. And, we were touched that you felt you’d miss that time with him when you went back to work.
I can understand that you would have lots of feelings about going back to work. How good it is that you can voice those feelings. We’ve also always said whatever is mentionable can be more manageable. And I hope you can trust that your loving care is a part of Samuel, even when you’re at work, just as as your love for him is with you while you’re away.
Pregnant mamas, working parents, anyone in transition: I hope Mr. Rogers words (I can hear his voice still!) can give you comfort as they gave me comfort all those years ago
Next month’s post I will share more about the importance of compassion from many traditions. Additionally, more about Sam’s correspondence with Mr. Rogers as he grew, including musical themes and relationship with his brother Jesse.
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