Divorce is a tough subject to talk about, especially with kids. Sesame Street is taking on the challenge, though, with its newest series, which you can view highlights of in the above video.
Both of my parents have been divorced twice. My mother and father divorced when I was a two. My mother and first stepfather divorced before I started kindergarten. My father and first stepmother divorced when I was a little older – the sole one I remember.
In my mind, I've never had a mother and a father, but rather I had a mother AND a father. I was too little to remember them together, and a number of states separated them as I was growing up. To me, they always were separate entities like Bigfoot and the Abominible Snowman – one I spent the school year with; the other I spent summers and every other Christmas with.
If anything, it made it easier on me. I never felt bad about the loss of a parent because I couldn't remember the loss of a parent. Or maybe I'm still messed up in the head because of it even after all the years and will one day help a psychiatrist buy a boat. Who knows? In the end, I felt loved by both parents and that was all that mattered to a little boy. I turned out OK.
The times I really was confronted by the divorce was when I was at the homes of friends' – most all of whom had a mom and dad who lived with them. It was during these times when the Sesame Street series would have helped most – to doubly reassure me that just because my situation was different than that of my friends' didn't mean that my family wasn't as good as theirs.
The following are other reasons why I believe this series is a great idea and one that's probably overdue:
1. It helps destigmatize divorce:
A Time article on Sesame Street's new series lays this out for us:
Because, while the statistics may be dire — more than a million children have parents who divorce or separate each year; many of those breakups happen in the preschool years — researchers say that resources intended for preschool-aged children are still shockingly scarce. No, children of divorce won’t necessarily be more screwed up than their peers with nondivorced parents, but they can be — if they don’t get the right support from the adults around them. So information for parents and children alike is key.
If anything, the show helps bring the topic to the forefront, which is bound to get adults more involved. And more-involved adults can help children with questions they might be afraid to ask.
Divorce can be a dirty word growing up. It shouldn't be. It happens, and children need to know it's OK to talk about. This series will help toward that goal.
2. It humanizes divorce:
OK, I know this sounds crazy. They're muppets, not humans. But I can't very well say that it muppetizes divorce. Plus, to a kid – at least I was this way – the muppets are human, but cooler because they either have neat features, know awesome songs or live in a trash can. Sometimes, it just helps to know that someone else has the same issues as you – even if it's a muppet. I didn't know many other kids with divorced parents when I was growing up. It would have been nice to know that a muppet shared my situation. Though – to be honest – I probably would have preferred Count Von Count over Abby Cadabby who kind of freaks me out because she looks like the offspring of a Fraggle and a fairy (which might explain the divorce).
3. It helps others understand divorce:
Not only do I think this will be good for kids who have divorced parents, it will help those who come from homes in which the parents still are together. It will help them better understand their friends who have divorced parents. And if there's one thing Sesame Street has been good at through the years – it's been promoting understanding. I'm so glad to see that they are continuing to do so.
• Going for Gusto is a blog by Joe Grace. Columns, videos, lists and quick thoughts posted throughout the week. Send questions, comments and blog ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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