The Gift of Sharing Our Feelings: Wisdom from Mr. Rogers

Lisa Larsen, LPC
For those who are familiar, you will know that I am a huge fan of Mr. Rogers.

Growing up in the 70’s as a child, he was the kindest, wisest man I knew and even today, his wisdom in this era of technology and busy, fast-paced family schedules, continues to speak to me. As you can imagine, Mr. Rogers received thousands of letters from children every year and he often wrote back in his loving way, to answer some tough questions. I invite you to enjoy this letter and his response from a 7 ½ year old little boy named Brent. Maybe we could all use a lesson from Mr. Rogers this week. 

Dear Mr. Rogers,
…My best friend Eric is having a 99% chance of moving. I don’t know when.
This morning in class he told me. When I got home I cryed a lot…..
-Brent, age 7 ½

"Dear Brent,

Your letter meant so much to me. I was really touched that you felt I could help you at such an upsetting time. I certainly can understand how hard it must be for you to consider Eric’s moving away. 

Brent, there are no easy ways to handle those feelings. What often helps is to talk about what we’re feeling. Somehow, talking about feelings can make them more manageable. That doesn’t mean talking about problems can make the problems go away. Far from that!  Sad and angry feelings about a friend moving away can hurt us deep inside. What I was most proud of in your letter is that you are a person who can talk about what you're feeling.

Generally, when we’ve been through sad times and we’ve been able to think and talk about our feelings, we usually begin to feel better, little by little. That’s like the words to our song '... the very same people who are sad sometimes….are the very same people who are glad sometimes. It’s funny but true…It’s the same, isn’t it, for me and you….'

Something else that might help is to plan ways you and Eric could stay in touch. I know of friends who have been separated, but who continue to stay in touch by writing or phoning or visiting on holidays or birthdays. Eric can continue to be an important part of who you are, even though he may not live nearby…. Just as you and I can be 'television neighbors' even though we don’t actually live near each other. Your friendship with Eric will always be an important part of who you are. And your friendship will always be an important part of who Eric is too. 

Brent, I also want to mention that, as I read your letter, I couldn’t help but think what a gifted communicator you are! You use words so well to talk about what you’re thinking and feeling. And I liked the way you helped me know more about yourself and Eric through your drawings. I’m proud to know you. 

You are special!"
-Mr. Rogers

From Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?

Lisa Hellmer, LPC
St Gabriel’s Counselor
St. Gabriel's Catholic School is an Independent Catholic school in Austin TX, educating children in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school.