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How should kids learn about divorce? "Sesame Street" weighs in

Children Coping With Divorce

Oklahoma parents who come to the decision to go their separate ways have the unenviable task of telling their children about the divorce. This isn’t an easy conversation for any family, but particularly when children may be too young to grasp why divorce happens and what it means for them.

Recently some famous early childhood experts have decided to tackle the subject. The producers of “Sesame Street” plan have developed a video that addresses divorce in a way they hope young children will be able to understand. The 13-minute segment features Muppet character Abby Cadabby talking about her parents’ divorce by holding up pictures of their separate homes. By explaining that sometimes Abby lives with her mom and other times with her dad, the people at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the show, hope to make it easier for parents to approach the subject themselves.

This isn’t the first time “Sesame Street” has attempted to talk about the touchy subject. Back in 1992 it showed a segment on divorce to a focus group of preschool-aged children, many of whom reacted with tears and confusion upon learning of Mr. Snuffleupagus’ parents’ divorce.

Having learned a lesson from that screening, Sesame Workshop shelved the idea for another two decades before deciding to bring the topic up again with the new segment. To prevent alarming children and their parents with a random airing on network television, the creators of the segment have made it available online only, and the show’s representatives say they don’t plan to air the episode on TV.

By controlling the message and allowing parents to show their children the video at their discretion, Sesame Workshop believes it can provide some guidance for parents who are either getting divorced or have simply gotten questions from their children on the topic — possibly after learning that a friend’s parents are going through a divorce.

Of course, the conversation need not end with an explanation from a Muppet. Rather, the video can act as a springboard for a more personal discussion with children, especially about their own family situation.