One of my (Tom’s) favorite books growing up as a child is a book called Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. A few years ago the book was made into a movie. Part of the reason I resonated with the book and movie so much is because of the main character’s story. The main character is Flint Lockwood and he is a scientist. But none of the things he has invented so far in his life are things that make sense or are useful. Growing up he has the support of his mother but when she dies he’s left alone with his father who thinks he should give it up. When the community that he lives in is in an economic crisis because their primary source of income was shut down, Flint decides to try his latest invention, a machine that can turn water into food~and it works! Food starts falling from the sky. Flint has gone from the town idiot to the town hero because of this new invention. He asks his father to dinner one night hoping his father will express his approval of his new invention.
Deep inside the heart of all of us there is a yearning to be loved and appreciated. Studies have shown that in the heart of every child is a cry for approval. It starts at a very young age and continues on into adulthood. Often, we think those feelings end when we are young and so we don’t receive what we need as adults. Typically for men, this takes on the form of answering the question: Do I have what it takes? He wants to prove himself. Remember those years of riding your bike with no hands or trying to look cool doing all those things boys do, you are looking for someone who will be impressed with your stunt show…usually it is your dad. Every woman is asking one basic question too. But it’s a very different question. You can observe it in nearly everything she does. For women it is the question: Am I lovely? My (Tom’s) daughter loves to play dress up. She likes to look pretty and feel pretty and she looks to me to strut her stuff. She wants to know that I’m thinking of her…that I delight in her. All those years of playing dress up and trying to look beautiful she is trying to capture my attention…she wants to be noticed.
Take a moment and look back on your story growing up and the relationship you had with your parents. And let us preface this by saying that this isn’t about placing judgment on our moms and dads and their parenting abilities. Maybe you grew up in a pretty healthy environment…your parents treated you well and cared for your needs–Perhaps without realizing it your parents held back something you needed more than anything else: to know you mattered; to know you were approved of.
And so now you are left with a desire to please and make people happy with you or your left with a drive to accomplish and this drive keeps you awake at night – these desires aren’t necessarily a bad thing but if they go unchecked there is a downside.
And I would imagine there are a few of you who have a difficult time thinking about your parents…maybe this topic bring us painful memories from your childhood, maybe there was some abuse or neglect that happened to you as a child; or maybe you didn’t have parents who were present in your life at all. And if that is a part of your story we want you to know how deeply sorry we are for you.
But there is good news for you today. Two years ago we (Michael and Tom) discovered a very inspirational book written by Tim Madigan called I’m Proud of You. Tim Madigan is a prominent author, journalist, and sports writer who wrote what we believe is an incredible book about his very close and intimate connection with the late Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers). Even though they lived hundreds of miles apart and were not able to see each other face to face more than a few times a year, they were very intentional about corresponding to and speaking with one another as often as they could. Tim, in the midst of establishing himself in his career and facing some deep challenges in his personal life struggled with feelings of lack of self-worth, inadequacy, and emptiness – feelings we all experience at some point in our lives. He found in his connection with Fred Rogers something he needed most—someone who was proud of him—someone who would affirm and love him for who he was–nothing more nothing less.
“From that time until his death seven years later, in almost every one of his scores of letters and emails he sent, my friend signed off with IPOY (I’m Proud of You) an acronym that is forever stamped on my heart.
But what has come to be known in my family “as the IPOY letter” was only the beginning of one of the most intensely difficult yet therapeutic periods of my life, a couple of years when I poured my rawest feelings in letters to Pittsburgh and received Fred’s healing words in return.”
At the heart of our mission with Someone To Tell It To is the desire to help others to find that healing place in their lives and to know that someone out there really and truly is proud of them and that their lives are significant and meaningful. In addition, we strive to provide a place where you know you can be listened to and accepted for who you are no matter where you are in life’s journey, no matter what you are struggling with, no matter what you feel that you have or don’t have to offer, and to help people find significant relationships like Tim Madigan and Fred Rogers shared together.
For Tim Madigan to find an affirming, loving, safe, and caring presence in his life like Fred Rogers was a true was a true blessing and profoundly changed the course of his life. We desire to see that manifested in everyone’s life.