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D is for Divorce: Sesame Street Tackles Divorce for the First Time

D is for Divorce: Sesame Street Tackles Divorce for the First Time

The classic children’s show, Sesame Street, has taken on almost every topic, from marriage to death. Now, for the first time, the show is addressing the difficult subject of divorce.

For the past two years, a capable team of writers, researchers and producers have been working on a segment that addresses the sensitive topic. 

Last month, Sesame Street debuted a 13-minute segment online, part of a massive multimedia kit called Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, which includes a storybook and an app called Two Hug Day, a guide for parents. The segment itself didn’t air on TV, but has been made available online for parents to access at their discretion at this LINK:

The segment addresses divorce in a way producers hope is accessible and easier for children to understand. 

This isn’t the first time the classic TV show has attempted to tackle divorce. A previous attempt remains unaired. In 1992, the show addressed divorce from Snuffleaupagus’ (a.k.a. Snuffy) point of view, when he told Big Bird his dad was moving out because of a divorce. The episode was tested on a group of children before it was aired, to terrible results. 

The children were distraught and incredibly confused at the idea of one parent leaving. Some didn’t know where Snuffy was going to live and others worried their own parents might get a divorce.  Ultimately, the episode prompted more questions than answers and resulted in Sesame Street killing the segment. 

For two decades since, producers have avoided the D word on air – until now. 

For the past two years, producers have been working on a new version of the segment, replacing Snuffy with the pink fairy known as Abby Cadabby, whose parents have already gone through a divorce.  Producers felt that a past event would be less traumatic for children and that they would take comfort in Abby confidently discussing her new family dynamic. 

This time, after the screening, there was no crying. The kids knew exactly where Abby lived. They felt relieved that she was okay. 

The segment is a great resource for separating parents who want to give their children an age-appropriate and accessible introduction to the difficult and sensitive topic of divorce.

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