Adults and Children Together

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How did Fred Rogers learn to “Be Love,” to millions of children across the country and around the world? 

How do parents learn to “Be Love” to their children?

Most men and women who find out they are about to be parents descend into some measure of fear and trembling.  However, some, like me, were parent effectiveness teachers, camp counselors, child-are workers or coaches before becoming parents themselves. It does help to have such a head-start.

But nothing prepares you adequately to parent Stacey, Isaiah, Eden, Chad, or Francis.  How do “be love” to my children?  That is the question!  The question that can only be answered in the trenches of our lives.

That is one of the reasons I loved the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”  We saw Fred Rogers learning to “be love” amidst the difficulties of his life and incessant demands of the industry wherein he worked.  I especially appreciated Mr. Roger’s courage as he determined to tackle the tough topics with Children, like death and violence.

How do you and I learn to “Be Love” for the children who are growing up in a world of perils that have never existed before? 

We experiment!  We do not quit trying.  We do not forget that the background crisis of our times need to always be taken into account when making decisions, setting priorities and experimenting with various ways to help our children find hope, be love and navigate the realities of the world they will live in, which is not our world.

I need your help for the following experiment.  I am looking for a way to facilitate conversation within families that increases the ability of each person to know think about abstracts like morality and truth.  So, here is the idea.

At the dinner table some evening, tell the family you would like to tell them a short story that includes animals.  Tell them that our job will be to gather as many ideas as possible about the meaning of the story.  Here are two such stories from Aesop’s Fables.

The Boys and the Frogs: 

Some boys were playing around a pond when they spotted a group of frogs hopping and swimming about in the water.  The boys began to throw rocks at the frogs and even competed against each other as to who could hit the most frogs.  Sometimes the rocks hit the frogs so hard that they died.

Finally, one frog hopped upon a lily pad.  “Please stop,” he pleaded, “What may seem just fun to you is death to us.”

The Cat and the Rooster:

One day a cat happened to grab hold of a rooster for its evening meal.  She wanted, however, a good excuse for killing the bird.

“I need to rid the world of you,” she told the rooster, “because you constantly make your horrible noises throughout the night, interfering with men’s much needed sleep.  The world will be better off without you.”

“No,” said the rooster, I crow for the good of men.  I wake them up each morning when it is time for them to start work for the day, so that they may earn their living.”

“Ridiculous!” said the cat, and she ate him.

Send me a report from your family conversation and I will report your answers in this newsletter.  If I hear from you that this was a good idea for your family, I will suggest additional stories.  Remember, this is an experiment for me and for your family.  We are learning together how to support our children as they seek to discern truth and tell the difference between right and wrong.

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