Talking about divorce with your kids
UPDATED: For parents, especially parents of young children, broaching the topic of divorce is one daunting aspect of dissolving a marriage. Regardless of their age, breaking the news of divorce can be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have.
With young children, the conversation can be even more challenging. Toddlers and elementary school kids don’t often have the emotional vocabulary to express their feelings. It’s a difficult situation for them to understand.
“Little Children, Big Challenges” is an initiative by the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit responsible for Sesame Street. It’s designed to help parents and caretakers help children through the difficult terrain of divorce.
The initiative provides videos, tips, and activities for kids ages two through eight. These resources provide an excellent place for parents to find information and tools about discussing divorce with their children.
Tough topics aren’t new to the kid’s show. The Sesame Street blog released a statement saying:
“Sesame Street has never shied away from taking on tough topics. If it’s a challenge young children face in their lives, it’s a challenge Sesame Street would like to help them weather. Over the years we have tackled everything from the death of a loved one to helping children through challenging economic times. And now Sesame Workshop is providing tools and resources to help children and parents stay resilient during divorce and separation.”
This isn’t the first time Sesame Street has tackled the topic of divorce. In the early 1980s, the children’s show tested a script that found Snuffleupagus coping with the divorce of his parents. The script, however, was scrapped after it performed poorly with test audiences.
The marked difference between Snuffy’s story and this latest attempt is perspective. As opposed to Snuffy’s story where he was going through his parent’s divorce, in this story, the divorce has already happened. This is the character’s new reality. The show uses this fact to explain divorce to the other youngsters.
In this instance, divorce isn’t a dark or sad thing the child has to deal with. Instead, it’s something she has dealt with. This shows children that not only can they make it through this ordeal, but that it is also possible to accept divorce and for both parents to continue loving you.
You play a vital role in the lives of your children. Divorce doesn’t change that. Discussing it with your children at the appropriate time and place helps lay a foundation for open communication. You can use this to build trust and stability during a tumultuous time. Helping your kids process and talk about their emotions will strengthen important bonds and help you stay connected.