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January 22, 2013

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‘An App Just for Me’: Denise Albert on Sesame’s New Divorce App

Ed. Note: Denise Albert is the Co-Founder of the lifestyle brand,  The MOMS. She and her partner, Melissa Gerstein are contributors to HLN’s upcoming parenting show, Raising America. Denise contributes to The Huffington Post Parents and Divorce.

As a mom addicted to my iPhone and to technology I often struggle with how much time to allow my kids to use their iTouches. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have given them the devices at their young ages of 4 ½ and 8. However, their dad receives new phones from his place of business so our kids are the beneficiaries of hand me downs. Who would say no to that!

When I see my kids playing games and using apps that are actually teaching them things, I have a hard time taking the devices away. My 4 ½ year old has learned math through sports. He is savant-like with the scores he studies on the NFL and NBA apps. He has learned how to count and add, including more complicated addition, by adding numbers of points in field goals, touchdowns and baskets.  

I can’t even take as much credit as I would like for teaching my boys about sports because I truthfully believe their devices have taught them so much. My youngest has also learned pre-reading and puzzles, and quite possibly could be hired for IT-type of work thanks to his iTouch, my iPhone and the apps on my iPad.

But now I’m just as addicted, specifically because of an app that I feel was made just for me. Sesame Street’s Divorce App is coming out at a time when I need it most. I’ve been separated for almost a year now. When I began the process there were really limited resources for us as a family. I’ve been chronicling my divorce online at The Huffington Post in the hopes that my journey might benefit others. I’ve been told in particular that one thing I did changed certain peoples’ actions.

I wrote about Sesame Street’s program when it was first announced. Now, thanks to Sesame Street, I have more information and a smart resource in a way that will please my kids.

My kids occasionally ask me out of the blue, “Why again did you and dad divorce?” My answer is usually the same; “Sometimes moms and dads are better off as friends, not being married.”

As far as divorce goes, I’m pretty lucky. We didn’t battle in court, we figured out all the details without hefty legal fees, and we agreed upon custody. But the kids don’t know any of this. Mostly, they want to know where they are sleeping on a given week, who is dropping them off for school and what they can have for snack. Other times, the deeper questions come. “Why again?”  “Will you marry dad again?” “Can I have a step-dad?”

After going through it time and time again I’m now comforted and part of a larger community thanks to Sesame Street’s Divorce App which provides good answers to many basic questions. Many of the questions my kids ask are there. What and why are just the basics. It goes further to “Who’s going to take care of me,” and “What should I tell my friends.” The app answers “Why are we different,” “Why can’t we buy all the things that we used to.”

Many of the questions are questions my kids have already asked. Many of the answers are just the right wording and language I would want to use.

The best part about the App is being able to share it with my friends. If having the right language and answers about divorce is important my family, it’s just as important for the people around us.

If my kids (and I) continue to be app addicts, at least there’s now an app with the knowledge, wisdom and the right amount of comfort, support and help that parents going through a divorce need during this transition time in our lives.

And it’s time we don’t treat divorce like a disease. Divorce doesn’t have to be different. It just has to be done right. And as a mom in transition, I’m a proud app addict now.

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