My family and I enjoy at-home movie nights. We all get a big bowl of ice cream and settle into the living room for a great time together.
The other night, we decided to watch the Mr. Rogers biopic, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. It was an excellent movie detailing a great man and how he helped a journalist deal with his feelings and reunite his family.
I’m old enough to remember watching Mr. Rogers as a kid. It’s hard to believe he’s been off the air for twenty years.
But the movie got me to thinking about how much the children of today are missing someone like Mr. Rogers. He was unafraid to talk about tough issues.
He would discuss troubling events in the news with children and talk about how they felt about them. He talked about anger, divorce, gun violence, bullying, natural disasters, and war. He would even discuss the most taboo topic of all, death. He would explain what was happening to the children in an honest manner and taught them how to process the feelings they were having then gave them healthy ways to deal with them.
Too often today we try to shield our children from the bad things of the world. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – we want to protect our children – we are putting them at a disadvantage.
Because they are never taught how to deal with those emotions at a young age, when they inevitably experience them as adults, they have no idea how to handle them.
They then develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with those negative emotions.
Porn addiction is a perfect example of this. So many men weren’t taught to deal with negative emotions as children, then when they entered their teen years, they discovered they could mask those dark feelings with sex and porn. Then they got hooked.
Eddie Capparucci, in his excellent book on how childhood emotions affect sexual addiction, Going Deeper: How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction, writes:
“We use sex as a self-soothing tool that produces an adrenaline rush powerful enough to block out troubling emotional distresses.”
Not being able to deal with our emotions and feelings can lead to developing other unhealthy habits to cope besides porn addiction: alcoholism, drug addiction, and compulsive eating. I believe this lack of guidance on how to cope with negative emotions is a cause of the major increase in depression and anxiety we’ve seen among the younger generations.
We need a new Mr. Rogers. We need someone brave enough to talk to kids about the tough issues. We need parents willing to allow their children to feel negative emotions and teach them how to deal with them. We’re not doing them any favors by shielding them.
Be a Mr. Rogers to your kids. Talk with them about the COVID-19 crisis honestly and discuss the feelings they’re having about it. Their lives have been upended by this virus too. Make sure they know how to cope with those feelings and have a safe place to discuss them.
If you never learned healthy ways to manage your emotions as a child, find a Mr. Rogers now. Seek help. Find someone, a friend, a pastor, a counselor, or a coach to help you deal with the deep-seated emotions you’re carrying. Otherwise, they’ll manifest themselves in negative ways.
We could all use a Mr. Rogers right now.
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