Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor adoption movie review

In response to what he perceived as a barrage of flashy, insubstantial children’s programming geared towards turning children into consumers, Fred Rogers created programming that treated children as people with their own inherent value. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood placed value on imagination, but also talked with children about difficult real-world issues like death, divorce, and segregation. Won’t You Be My Neighbor looks beyond the show at the real Fred Rogers, who it turns out is very much like the patient, gentle, caring character he portrayed on television. This documentary is an insightful look at a person who served children in a unique and impactful way.  

The Adoption Connection

There is no adoption aspect to the film. If you’re interested, though, Mr. Rogers did write a book on adoption!

Strong Points

There’s a lot of good here; so much of Mister Rogers’ philosophy could be helpfully applied to parenting or working with children. Here are a few, paraphrased:

“There are so many difficult modulations of life, you’ve got to weave so many things; if you’ve got someone to help you, it is easier.”

“Love is at the root of everything… All learning, all relationships. Love. Or the lack of it.”

“Kids’ feelings are as powerful as adult feelings. Kids have deep questions [and if you take their questions seriously] you have passed the test, and can come into their lives.”

“I like you as you are. Children can’t grow unless they’re accepted as they are.”

“Respectful communication is the most spiritual thing I can do.”

“Kids need to be appreciated not for who they will be or what they will do, but for who they are.”

“One of the first things a child learns in a healthy family is trust.”

“Feelings are mentionable and manageable.”

“The most important part of communication is to listen.”

“Children need adults who will protect them from the ever-ready molders of the world.”

“Love is what keeps us together, and grief shows the depth of love.”

“Those who would try to make you feel less than who you are – that is the greatest evil.”

“You don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.”

“Everyone longs to be loved and to be loveable, and consequently the greatest thing we can do is help people know they can be loved and that they can love.”

One of Mister Rogers’ cast members found acceptance in Mister Rogers that he hadn’t found elsewhere, saying “I needed a man to tell me he loved me; he became my surrogate father [and told me] ‘I’m so proud of you.’”


Some news footage related to an assassination and some late night talk show clips could be out-of-bounds for younger viewers.


Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a well-made invitation to get to know a gentle, willful, intentionally impactful television star who genuinely used his position to serve children. While kids might not be entertained by the documentary, it is valuable viewing for parents.

Questions for Discussion

What messages might your kids need to hear from you about themselves?

What could help you talk to your kids about uncomfortable topics in a way that’s age-appropriate to them?

Who are the people that have invested in you? Who’s one person that helped make you who you are today?

Other Ideas

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