Catching Neighborliness

Fred Rogers

Article Type: Perspective

Publication Date: 1/1/1995

Issue: Children (Vol. 15, No 1, Winter, 1995)

There’s an old Quaker saying that character is caught, not taught. That’s why I’m especially careful when I use the term “religious education.” Education often means learning a skill and practicing it. But of course, children do not develop into caring human beings merely by memorizing biblical passages, hearing stories like The Good Samaritan, or filling in workbook sheets about New Testament heroes. Neighborliness is caught, not taught. Certainly the most important people from whom children “catch” such traits are the primary adults in their family. Two neighborly traits which I believe are essential for children to “catch” are empathy and forgiveness. Understanding how these are nurtured in a family may give you added foundation for finding your own ways to help children become “neighborly.”

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