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Raising kids is a complicated matter, and it isn't easily boiled down to a trite, singular philosophy of "You're special," or "Toughen up." I'm pretty confident Fred Rogers understood that, and the need to assign to him the blame for a perceived generation of selfish, grade-grubbing students is unfair, short-sighted, and ridiculous.

I actually think advocating on your own behalf, and on behalf of others, is a decent trait. Sometimes...I know this as a sometime teacher...the teacher doesn't always get it completely right. I never, ever minded it when a student came to talk about a grade. Better that than the kid who simply didn't care. I'm really proud of the fact that my oldest son has the confidence (without any guidance from me) to go in and talk about a mark with his teachers (sometimes its the system that gets it wrong).

Empty praise should be avoided, I think. Kids see through that, and it does little good. But positive, emotional support can be very helpful in developing confidence...and it can spread around to build the confidence of others. When coaching, for example, I've found out over time that it does little good to constantly harangue and correct performance, especially during games. Immediately correcting poor behavior and dangerous action...absolutely yes. But giving postive support, realistic, honest, no BS positive support, really works in player development. On the contrary...I've seen that those kids who are constantly berated by their parents and coaches tend not to listen...tend to shut out all advice...and tend to behave in selfish, entitled ways around others. And they continue the same behavior traits in their teaching the next generation.


The only message I ever got from Mr. Rogers was to stay away from creepy guys in sweaters.


I met Mr. Rogers when I was 8 years old and got to play with the puppets and meet all of Mr. Rogers' neighbors (my father was in public relations and knew Mr. Rogers and the media at PBS). He was as kind and gentle in spirit in real life as he appeared on his show. So, to the LSU Professor and the school districts who have nothing better to do than to point fingers and blame others for their own unhappiness, remember:

It's such a good feeling to know you're alive.
It's such a happy feeling: You're growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say,
"I think I'll make a snappy new day."
It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling,
The feeling you know that we're friends.


I always took the phrase "You're Special" to mean that each one of us was unique and that is what made us special. Little did I know that I could have turned it into a right of entitlement so that parents would have given me everything I wanted when I was growing up. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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