He helped us with our relationships with others.

Sharing a wading pool (1969)
Sharing a wading pool (1969)
“There are Many Ways to Say I Love You” (1991)
Ups and downs of friendship (1982)

This television program wasn’t called “Mister Rogers.”  Fred Rogers created it intentionally to be a Neighborhood. And the most important part of any neighborhood is the people.  At the core of this neighborhood was an understanding that people grow best in relationship with others.

We learn through relationships

Fred Rogers often said, “It’s through relationships that we learn best and grow best.” When you care about someone and know that person cares about you, you want to learn from them and strive to be your best. Mister Rogers didn’t “teach” us to be caring neighbors, but he gave us many ways to understand how important we are to each other. 


In Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood children can see how a wide variety of diverse neighbors – both the real neighbors we meet in the real neighborhood, and the puppets and people of Make-Believe – interact with one another with kindness and respect. 

As different as we are from one another, as unique as each one of us is, we are much more the same than we are different. That may be the most essential message of all, as we help our children grow toward being caring, compassionate, and charitable adults.
Fred Rogers

Caring neighbors

The stories in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe showed children many different ways that people build caring relationships with one another – doing kind things for each other, talking and listening, helping and asking for help, working together to solve problems. When someone doesn’t feel brave enough to do something on their own, or when they feel too shy to speak up, neighbors give each other courage and support. And together they applaud the big and small moments of “inside” growing.


Through his words and his songs, Mister Rogers encouraged us to find our own ways to show others we care about them. It was a way of reminding us that as children, we weren’t just on the receiving end of love and care.  We could show people many different ways to show our love for them, too. 


An appreciative neighbor

In his real neighborhood Mister Rogers modeled what it is to be a kind, respectful and appreciative neighbor. Whenever he met with anyone, whether a new visitor or a nearby neighbor,  he showed us what social amenities look like and sound like, how you greet people, how you introduce them to your friends, how you say goodbye. And he always remembered to say “Thank you.”  He wasn’t teaching manners, but by example he was helping children learn how to be considerate of others.


Mister Rogers showcased the talents of others, and at the same time, he modeled being an appreciator – always showing how much he enjoys other people’s talents, abilities and ideas and how he admires the time they give to practicing their art or talent. 

I’m facing something so difficult.  I’d like some help. My best friend is having a 99% chance of moving.

We all work on building and sustaining relationships throughout our lives. It’s not always easy. What helped Mister Rogers’ neighbors get along was a foundation of respect, kindness and empathy.  Those messages resonate with us throughout our lives with people near and far. We are all neighbors.

I believe that appreciation is a holy thing…. In appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.
Fred Rogers