Thanks “Sesame Street”, But Helping Kids Through Divorce is Our Job
Children of divorce can often feel out of sorts. They pack up and live elsewhere for a week or weekend. They have expressions like “Bonus Mom” or “Bonus Dad,” which sounds exciting but really only causes sideways glances from the other kids. And even in the most civil of divorces, they have probably seen or heard things that they shouldn’t have.
As a divorced mom of two, I know I spend a lot of time trying to normalize divorce for my kids. Even now, six years later. I never wanted them to feed into the “broken home” messaging that is so common in our culture. “We are still a family. Just a different kind of family,” was one of my initial campaign slogans. I had a special dance and I would bounce around singing the song by Sister Sledge.
Lately, I’m battling the “children of single moms = failure” messaging seeping through the media. I do this by reminding them of all the successful people who were raised by single moms, including our President.
Post-divorce clean-up and brainwashing is important. And exhausting.
That’s why I was really happy to see "Sesame Street" take a step to help normalize divorce as an unfortunate, but true reality for children and most American families. “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,” according to a Sesame Workshop press release. “While 40 percent of families experience this, there are few resources to show children they are not the only ones with big questions and feelings about divorce.”
True indeed. Kids need validation. Like anyone else in the world, they need to feel like they are not the only ones going through such pain.
Of course, I think it’s great that young children of divorce will see their experience reflected in one of their favorite characters on Sesame Street. And I’m kind of wondering what took them so long. But I also strongly feel that as parents, we can’t leave everything up to television and school teachers. We have to parent! Prepare our children for their reality—whatever that is. For me, that meant I specifically found other divorced parents with kids to make sure they were included in my children’s circle of friends. Real people beats TV people all day, every day. That means I put them in “kid therapy” like sessions and attended divorced kid support groups where they could freely express themselves to others. That means I show them that life goes on after divorce, by living my life to my best after divorce.
Steering your kids through a divorce is the job of the parents. Not a puppet.
We can’t expect "Sesame Street" to do everything.
Either way, "Sesame Street’s" noble gesture is too late for my kids. But sadly there are 1.5 million more in need of this every year. And counting. SMH.