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Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce

There’s a great new initiative  developed by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and Sesame Street which is an an important and valuable resource for parents, Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce . The program, featuring Muppet Abby Cadabby, provides tools and language to help young children (ages 2-8) cope with and understand divorce at an age-appropriate level. Project resources include a free mobile app, online resources, and multimedia toolkits containing a children’s storybook, a caregiver guide, and a DVD. These materials are available online at sesamestreet.org/divorce and through the Resource Center on the AFCC website. Divorce can be a big challenge for both children and parents. Though times may be difficult, children can emerge feeling loved and supported. You can all grow through these family changes and discover just how strong you really are.

You are not alone. Family, friends, neighbors, and others are there to offer support. Here are some tools to help your child through your divorce.

To view this fabulous new program and for more details click here 

Information from the SesameWorkshop

Each year about 1.5 million children confront the divorce of their parents1, a transition that can be challenging for the entire family, especially young children. While 40% of families experience this, there are few resources to show children they are not the only ones with big questions and feelings about divorce.  In response, Sesame Workshop has launched Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, a series of free multi-media resources, to support families through this transition which can be very difficult, especially for young children. These new materials are a continuation of Sesame Workshop’s award-winning Military Families Initiative launched in 2006 that provides resources and emotional support to military families with children, ages 2 to 8, coping with challenging transitions in their lives.

As with all content produced by Sesame Workshop, this outreach initiative began with a thorough research process, which included consulting with an advisory board of key experts in child development, early childhood, and mental health fields to guide and shape key content messages. Continuing the process, Sesame Workshop conducted focus groups with parents and service providers to ensure that all of the resources effectively meet the needs of children and families.  Sesame Workshop created Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, in order to:

  • Provide tools and language to help young children (ages 2–8) cope with and understand divorce at an age-appropriate level,
  • aid families in communicating and expressing feelings around divorce and
  • reassure children that they will be cared for, and that—together with their families—they can learn ways to adjust to their new life and have hope for the future.

“With our new resources on divorce, Sesame Workshop continues a 43-year-long history of tackling the most relevant and challenging issues for children,” said H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop. “During difficult times, it’s vitally important that children feel supported and develop coping skills that will help them throughout their entire lives.  Sesame Workshop is committed to providing the highest quality resources to families dealing with life’s challenges.”

Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce includes:

  • A new Sesame Street DVD, featuring the Muppets and real families, that highlights strategies around expressing emotions and how to talk to children about divorce;
  • A Parent/Caregiver Guide providing helpful resources, language and advice for discussing divorce with children and helping them navigate changes;
  • A Children’s StorybookTwo-Hug Day, about a young boy named Niko who is transitioning between his parents’ two homes, and
  • An online toolkit at sesamestreet.org/divorce providing access to all project resources, as well as additional online-only materials:
    • An Extended Family & Friends tip sheet
    • Webinars and online discussion sessions giving service providers and families a thorough understanding of how to engage with their families and communities
    • A Facebook page called Sesame Street in Communities connecting our online community to Sesame’s resiliency messages and materials.
  • A mobile app: Sesame Street: Divorce, featuring resources and tools for parents and caregivers; available on the App Store (SM) and Google Play ™.

“With the frequency of children experiencing divorce and or separation today, it is critical to help children understand that the feelings or questions they may have are typical and should be discussed with a parent or caregiver, said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for Outreach and Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop.  “These strategies will help children cope with changes as well as support them in understanding they are not alone.”

The resource kits will be distributed to military and veteran families through partnerships with Military OneSource, Department of Veterans Affairs, The USO, and The Military Child Education Coalition. These resources are also being distributed to families in the general public through national partnerships with organizations such the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. On a local level, distribution will reach children and their families though faith-based programs, school and after school programs, through counseling and mental health services, parenting programs, and child care systems. Military families can contact Military OneSource directly at militaryonesource.mil to request a kit.


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This Family Day, Don’t Play Games with Your Children

As published in The Huffington Post

Living in the province of Ontario, I am fortunate to have the day off on February 20 because of the statutory holiday “Family Day”. This holiday was created because the provincial government felt that “there is nothing more valuable to families than time together. And yet it seems tougher than ever to find, with so many of us living such busy lives.”

Single parent households, blended families, same-sex families, cohabiting families. There so many more configurations that I haven’t even mentioned. But when you’re divorced and single, the expression “family day” suddenly takes on a very new meaning.

What if you’re divorced with no children, and have no extended family? Does that mean you can’t celebrate Family Day? No. I suggest that you reach out to your friends who have become your extended family. Let them know how special they are to you. Start building important bonds and relationships that you hope can be long lasting.

If you have become estranged or alienated from your family and children, use this time to reflect and try to understand what went wrong. Perhaps this can be the day when you start mending those broken bonds. The ending of a relationship between a parent and a child is probably one of the most painful experiences that can happen.

To be estranged is a breakdown of the bond between a parent and the child; a distance between the two is created. For whatever reason, there was something that caused the loving relationship to turn into one of apathy or hostility. If you ask me, parent alienation is a form of mental abuse.

I’m in my book, The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 Top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors and Other Experts, I argue that:

“The most heinous situation in child custody disputes is called pathological alienation or parent alienation syndrome (PAS). In this scenario, one parent becomes obsessed with destroying a child’s relationship with the other parent when there is no good reason to do so. Alienation can be mild, moderate, or severe… The children’s will and choice are removed from them through a form of brainwashing. This is a serious form of child abuse, because if it isn’t stopped, the children are headed for psychiatric disturbances, failed relationships, and dysfunctional lives in which they will pass this behavior on to their own children.”

So what can you do to overcome these devastating scenarios?

In an interview I conducted with Dr. Robert A. Simon, a clinical and forensic psychologist in California, the doctor offers a slightly different perspective on the issue:

“I have concerns about the use of the term ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’ because I think this oversimplifies the phenomenon and searches for its cause within an individual. In reality, there is a lack of quality, objective and empirical research to validate the notion that there is an identifiable syndrome that corresponds to the problem. Instead, this is a multi-faceted problem. The issue of children becoming alienated or estranged from a parent is a very real phenomenon and a huge problem.However, I am concerned that raising this issue during the course of child custody litigation has become rather “trendy” these days. And when children resist contact with a parent, this is rarely the result of a malevolent parent setting out to destroy the child’s relationship with the other parent. It is far more complex.

To see the full article in The Huffington Post, click on the link

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/deborah-moskovitch/the-meaning-of-family_b_1277833.html