In December, Sesame Street tackled the issue of divorce with a new 13-minute video in which one of the show’s characters discusses her parents’ divorce.
The children’s television show has developed “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce,” which includes materials to help children aged two to eight deal with their parents’ divorce. Along with the video, the multimedia tool kit includes a storybook that discusses living in separate homes, children’s own experiences via testimonials, resources for parents, songs, activities, and even an app, the Sesame Street Divorce App. The resources can be found at http://sesamestreet.com/divorce.
In the new video, muppet Abby Cadabby tells her friends about her experiences with divorce, including staying in one house with Mommy and in an another with Daddy.
“When my mommy and daddy were married, we all lived together in one house. But, one day they told me that they had some grown up problems — problems they couldn’t fix,” she says. “Mommy and Daddy told me that they decided not to be married to each other anymore, but they said they both still loved me very much.”
The long-running children’s program tiptoed into the subject of divorce with a storyline about Snuffy Snuffleupagus’ parents breaking up in the early 1990s, but preschool-aged children in a focus group became upset as Snuffy became more confused and upset himself.
Sesame Workshop hopes that the new series will help confront a real issue among many of its target audience.
“Each year about 1.5 million children confront the divorce of their parents, a transition that can be challenging for the entire family, especially young children,” it said in a press release. “While 40 percent of families experiencing this, there are few resources to show children they are not the only ones with big questions and feelings about divorce.”
Of course, not everyone is so gung-ho about this new direction of Sesame Street programming, even if it isn’t scheduled to appear on television any time soon. Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values wrote at FamilyScholars.org, “Maybe a better idea would be to make a documentary about all those kids crying the first time around and show it to parents considering a divorce.”
What do you think of Sesame Street’s addressing divorce? Is it appropriate for children’s programming?