December 11, 2012

By Graydon Gordian

Sesame Street Releases Resources for Families Coping with Divorce

Sesame Street has never shied away from taking on tough topics. If it’s a challenge young children face in their lives, it’s a challenge Sesame Street would like to help them weather. Over the years we have tackled everything from the death of a loved one to helping children through challenging economic times. And now Sesame Workshop is providing tools and resources to help children and parents stay resilient during divorce and separation.

Millions of young children experience divorce, and they struggle to understand what exactly is happening. Parents also struggle to explain these changes, if they are able to open up to their children about the subject at all. That’s why Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce provides resources featuring our beloved Sesame Street Muppets that give divorced parents strategies on how to communicate with and support their children. The videos, which are for targeted audiences struggling with divorce, will not air on the Sesame Street television series.

As with everything we do, Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce is based on thorough research. Given the sensitive nature of the subject, we have taken extra care to approach the topic in a way that will be supportive of children and not confusing or scary. However, the research doesn’t do the job all by itself. A major reason our educational tools are so effective is because our wonderful Muppets bring the story to life.

Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro wrote the script for our video materials starring Abby Cadabby, Elmo and Rosita, and spoke about the difficulties of writing stories about such a sensitive topic.

“We never want to go too into detail with any of these,” Ferraro said, “because every kid’s situation is different. Every divorce is different and every family’s situation is different. We want to keep it a little bit ambiguous so it’s applicable to all children, but it’s also Abby’s story. Abby is talking about the fact that her parents are divorced. She’s already at a place where she has accepted it, and that made a big difference emotionally.

“The general messages that come across,” she added, “are you are not alone, we are here for you. You can talk to people about this. It’s good to talk. There are many different emotions you may go through. That’s OK.”

Although Abby Cabaddy’s parents are divorced in the story, Ferraro spoke to how important it was that Elmo, Rosita and Gordon, played by Roscoe Orman, appear in the story as well.

“We wanted there to be an adult, and that’s why Gordon is in it,” she said. “We wanted to show an example of a kid talking to an adult about this. Roscoe just did an incredible, wonderful job. We wanted to show there are many people in your life who can support you.”

If you would like to learn more about Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce and the ways Sesame Workshop is supporting families going through such a challenging transition, click here.

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