After more than 40 years, Sesame Street has never directly dealt with the issue of divorce and its impact on children. Until now.
Sesame Workshop recently launched its “Little Children, Big Challenges” initiative, including an online episode featuring Abby Caddabby, Elmo and Rosita. This episode is only available online, and not on the air. According to child psychiatrist Josh Weiner, this new video could be a useful tool for parents to use to discuss divorce with their children.
The episode features Abby Cadabby talking about her parents’ divorce, how she splits her time between her mom and dad, and her “big feelings” about it all after she is asked to draw a picture of her home and then draws two pictures.
Sesame Street has always had a social component of trying to help children deal with difficult issues in their lives, but it has also struggled with how to address the big “D.” Twenty years ago, in 1992, the company scripted and shot a potential episode about Snuffleupagus’s parents divorcing. But when they tested it with pre-schoolers, some were so upset they cried. As a result, the show never aired.
Because the episode is only available online, parents can choose to watch it when they feel their child is ready, or can choose not have their child see it at all. Ultimately, however parents discuss and share their children’s feelings and concerns about divorce, it is vitally important that they focus on making them understand that divorce is not their fault and that they will always be loved by both of their parents. It’s a valiant effort, and in our opinion, makes for worthwhile viewing.