Sesame Street has decided to include a divorce resource in its series of online tool kits under the “Little Children, Big Challenges” initiative. I applaud the efforts of this societal giant in early education programming, taking on divorce as the reality that children from 40% of married households may face at some time in their childhood.
My daughters were 5 and 7 when their dad and I told them we would be divorcing. We made the decision to tell our girls together. We knew their primary concern would be what the impact on them would be. We prepared. We had 2 dry erase calendars with us that they would hang in each house, so they could learn the new routine and schedule. They saw their parents as a united front who would make this transition for them as easy as possible.
I had been a divorce lawyer for more than 10 years before my own divorce was filed. Because of my everyday work with divorcing parents, I knew what resources to consult, I had learned what things I should say or not say, and I had observed from the real life stories I was hearing daily, what to expect. Most parents do not have the unique advantage I feel l had when I was fretting over and mapping out a strategy for telling my children.
I feel relief when I read articles about Sesame Street addressing this issue in a public forum that will be available to parents and children, alike, to help them transition through divorce. As much training as I had, I still wasn’t prepared for my daughters to ask me questions like “Why are you and Daddy getting divorced, you don’t fight?” “Do you hate Daddy?” “Do you love Daddy?”
Children have questions and as parents, this can cripple us with fear. So much in fact, that dozens of times I have heard that parents opted not to file for divorce for several years “for the sake of the children.” It is only a benefit to society and the families coping with divorce that divorce is being acknowledged as a reality. That it no longer is a topic to be avoided or discussed in hushed tones around children.
The more honest we, as a culture, can be about the experiences of our neighbors, family members, and the children in our community, the better able we will be able to address the hardship of divorce in an open and supportive way. And that would be a benefit to us all.
What resources have you found helpful during your divorce?