"The Mr. Roger's Parenting Book: Helping to Understand and Encourage your Child" by Fred Rogers

The reason I got this book from the library is because Mr. Roger's is my mom's hero. She loves him. We watched his show all the time. I think my mom was very sad when he died. She has several "Mr. Rogers" books around her house.

(Snopes disproved this urban legend, but I still chuckle to imagine Rogers as a WWII Sniper with hundreds of tattoos on his arms and chest).

I appreciated this book. Its chapters are divided by topics like, "Toys and Playtime," and "Bedtime." Some of the chapters were more interesting than others. Actually, I was a little bummed to read some first-person stuff in some of the chapters that clearly was not from Rogers, but from a different female author. I flipped to the preface where I learned that there were several female M.D. moms who collaborated in the book. And when I mentioned this to my mom, she basically said that there are many things with the "Mr. Rogers" label on them that don't necessarily come from the Fred Rogers. That kind of made me sad, like somehow the information lost some of its authenticity. I mean, I would willingly believe nearly anything that this guy says! I watched him take off his shoes and put on a cardigan for years and years. But somebody who he endorses? It seems like a cop-out.

Anyway, the chapter I appreciated the most was the one about "Toys and Playtime." He talks about what kinds of toys are the best for children and why. He doesn't use scientific data, but just common sense. Children's "work" is play. Playing helps children learn. It helps them understand the world around them. Therefore, the kinds of toys that help children to learn the best are the open-ended ones that allow for an extensive use of imagination, toys like dolls, blocks, legos - anything that can be adapted to be used in different games. He specifically warns against too many electronic toys. You can only play video games one way. You can't change the rules or setting.

This holds true for what toys I enjoyed the most. Growing up, we had hundreds of stuffed animals, legos, blocks, plastic animals, cars, but most importantly: dress-ups. And playing dress-up (well that's not what we called it. If it was medieval it was 'Castle', if it was fae it was 'fairies', if it was Colonial New England 'Ms. Robin's Class' - hey, Felicity was my American Girl Doll!) was a central part of my childhood.

Rogers doesn't like toy guns, or other violence-promoting toys. But he also is realistic, which is something that I've noticed lots of anti-gun parents aren't, in that children can and will use anything, including bananas and sticks, to be a gun. But Rogers argues that children using sticks to play at "bang bang, you're dead" is different because he is not endorsing the game. He advocates talking about it with your children.

Danny is pretty skeptical of an anti-toy-gun rule. After all, he grew up with toy guns, and he's normal, relatively ;) We talked for a while about it. I mean, if Mr. Rogers says to do something, it's hard to argue that he's wrong. But on the other hand, I agree with Danny that not all toy guns are created equal, like there's a huge difference between a supersoaker water gun and a realistic pistol cap gun. I always thought that toy swords and light sabers were more fun than toy guns, personally, since you could actually whack someone with them. I'm pretttttty sure that our kids are going to grow up playing with supersoakers, but that cap guns are just too realistic/scary.

As for real guns, Danny wouldn't mind having them in the house, but I say absolutely no way while we have kids under the age of 18. He protests that it's important to learn gun safety, and I say it is to be done elsewhere, like scout camp. But I may acquiesce if we move to say, Montana. Here in the sprawling urban suburb of Katy, Texas, it's just not really necessary. Maybe his parents could justify it on their new 14-acre property in the mountains of Colorado...but I digress.

The most interesting part of the chapter was his analysis on why children play certain kinds of games. Peek-a-boo and other hide-and-find games might stem from a child wanting to understand about a parent leaving. Often times games are just extensions of children trying to make sense of the world around them. I bet there are some pretty interesting books written on this subject.

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