For the first time, “Sesame Street” is directly addressing the problem of parents getting divorced.
The new video "Big Feelings" features Abby Caddaby, a character whose parents have been divorced for a while. Other characters learn she has two homes.
Mercedes Griffiths, who is a mother of three, said she approves of “Sesame Street” discussing parents splitting up.
“A lot of kids have to deal with it, so if ‘Sesame Street’ can help them, because a lot of kids watch ‘Sesame Street,’ then I don't see why not,” she said.
Claire Aguilera doesn’t like the move, however.
“You know, I think it's something that should be addressed with parents and children by themselves,” said Aguilera, who also has three children. “I don't think it's something that should be put on television.”
“Sesame Street” agrees. That's why the video is only shown online. It's part of a multimedia tool kit called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce.”
The kit includes songs, a storybook, a guide for parents and an app.
“It's appropriate for the time now. Divorce rates are higher than normal and so kids are exposed to that all the time,” said Lee Schonlau, a father of two. “So having something that they can relate to in terms of a character or a story or an interaction makes it easier for the kids also.”
Writers and producers worked for two years on the 13-minute-long video, which was launched this week. It’s long overdue, said Dr. Nurit Sheinberg, the director of research at Nova Southeastern University's Mailman Segal Center of Human Development.
“She validates the fact that she wasn't okay at the beginning, so that also helps children validate their own feelings if they're going through that process of it's okay not to be happy all the time – but it gives you a model of a child, of a character in the show, that is able to cope with it and come to terms with it,” Sheinberg said.