How to Help Children of Divorced Parents

This week I attended an event put on by Sesame Street designed to spread the word about their newest goal, to help children affected by divorce. (That translates to 40 percent of all children, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.) This project, called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce” includes an impressive collection of resources, all of which are available to parents, caregivers, and educators, and of course the children themselves at sesamestreet.org/divorce. This includes:

  • A book called Two-Hug Day, which is the very sweet way of helping a child frame the difficult transition that comes on the day he or she goes from one parent’s home to the other
  • A series of Sesame Street videos primarily starring Abby Cadabby, whose parents are getting divorced
  • A coloring book, including a page that illustrates all of the adults in Abby’s life who are there to support her
  • Tips for friends and family on how to help children who are going through the challenges of separation and divorce (this is available in Spanish, too)

At this week’s event, a discussion with divorced parents (some as recently as months ago, some who’ve been divorced for 6 years), moms and dads very honestly shared their painful experiences. It hurt to hear one mom of three say, “Nothing could have prepared me for the road I’ve taken,” though she also pointed out that her family has come a long way since those hardest days. A dad of two children talked about how hard pickup and dropoff has been for his 5 1/2-year-old son: “He’d have an extremely wide and conflicting range of emotions,” he said. “He simply did not know what to do with himself.” My closest friend has recently gone through a divorce and her two children are trying very hard to navigate their way through their new family life, so this hit home for me. What was encouraging, though, was that most of the parents said that things really do get better; that they and their children have made real strides. They also agreed that a toolkit like the one Sesame Street has assembled is invaluable. If you’re going through a separation or divorce and want to find ways to help your child through it, please do check out sesamestreet.org/divorce.

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  1. by Joan Price

    On May 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Divorce is so tough. When I was younger, I was part of a group for divorced kids. It helped more than I would have thought. There’s a program right now that is starting a curriculum for helping out divorced children which Halsey Minor helped get off the ground. It’s called Kids Turn. I hope it goes well and can help kids trying to learn how to juggle both parents.