Sesame Street is known for tackling important issues that affect children, but for years the TV program has steered clear of the topic of divorce. In 1992, the non-profit network developed an episode during which Snuffleupagus talked about his parents getting divorced, but it ended up leaving the pre-school-aged test audience in tears.
Because close to a million children a year are affected by divorce in Texas and the rest of the country, the creators behind Sesame knew that they wanted to revisit the issue, but they also knew they had to be delicate. So instead of airing a regular TV episode discussing divorce, they decided to create a resource kit specifically created for children of divorce.
The kit includes a story book about living in two homes, a parent/caregiver guide, testimonials from children and The Sesame Street Divorce App for parents. Additionally, there is a video showing Muppet Abby Cadabby talk about her parents’ divorce and explain to other Muppets that her parents still love her and she still loves them.
The head of head of Human and Community Development at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who helped put the kit together, said Sesame is doing the right thing in giving parents the tools they need to talk about divorce with their children. He said that if all goes well, children of divorce may have a more visible role on the show.
“I hope that as this is out there and they begin to see what I think will be really positive reactions, they’ll think about where and how to include this in the line-up,” he said.
The entire divorce kit is available at sesamestreet.org/divorce.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “‘Sesame Street’ advises kids about divorce, but not on TV show,” Lori Rackl, Dec. 13, 2012