Movies to Help Kids Understand Divorce

By Tracey Dowdy

By the time they turn 33, many Americans are well on their way to the American dream – they’re married, have bought a home, and are earning an annual salary of about $50,000. Unfortunately, that American Dream sometimes doesn’t play out the way we imagined. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 20 percent of first marriages end in divorce within five years, and 48 percent of marriages dissolve by the 20-year mark. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.

No one would argue that a healthy marriage contributes to a happy home, and children who grow up in one of those happy homes are better protected from mental health issues, as well as physical, educational and social problems. It can be traumatic, but research suggests that most children adjust well within two years following the divorce.

Finding your new “normal” can be a challenge for everyone. Many times, children aren’t sure what to expect with such major life change, and they’re likely to have questions and concerns.

The most important thing is of course to have healthy, open communication and for the children to know that the reasons the marriage ended are between partners, and it isn’t their fault. These movies can help start conversations, and perhaps normalize some of the emotions your children may experience.

The Parent Trap – The original version (1961 – Hayley Mills) is charming though it has some rather dated gender roles, while the newer version (1999 – Lindsay Lohan) holds up even though it’s 20 years old this year. There’s a considerable amount of lying starting with both parents hiding the existence of the other twin, so both films offer multiple teachable moments about the importance of telling the truth to build trust in a relationship. The movie’s plot is focused on the girl’s attempts to get the parents to reconcile, a common wish for children of divorce. Suitable for ages 6+.

Night at the Museum – It may be an odd choice since divorce is a subplot, not the necessarily the focus of the film, but the primary reason Stiller takes the job as night watchman at the museum is an effort to maintain contact with and provide some level of stability for his son, with whom he shares custody with his ex-wife. You’ll discover conversation starters about the impact divorce can have on family finances, lessons on conflict resolution, and on the importance of taking responsibility for your actions. Best for kids ages 7+.

Mrs. Doubtfire – Despite the fact Robin Williams is at his funniest, Mrs. Doubtfire takes a rather raw, un-funny look at life after divorce and the animosity that can tear a family apart. While filled with sight gags, great one-liners, and scenes that will make everyone giggle, there are several that may be difficult for kids in the midst of separation to watch, especially the high conflict scenes between Williams and his onscreen wife, Sally Field. It can open conversations about judging others unfairly, the dangers of making assumptions and being unwilling to forgive or show mercy, and the importance of keeping things amicable for everyone’s sake. Because of some mature themes and profanity, this is best for ages 12 and up.

The Pursuit of Happyness – If you’re ready for as near a real-life look at divorce as you can get without watching a documentary, The Pursuit of Happyness is a good choice. It’s gritty, emotional, and at times hard to watch. But, even more, the love Will Smith’s character shows for his son, his commitment to their relationship, and his determination to be a good father whatever it takes makes up for the darker elements of the film. Best for kids 12+.

What Maisie Knew – Certainly the most heart wrenching to watch, What Maisie knew paints parents Susanna and Beale, (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan) in painfully harsh colors. They regularly fight over custody and parenting in front of Maisie, and their disdain for one another is obvious. The story is told primarily through Maisie’s eyes, and can provide older children and parents the opportunity to unpack some very uncomfortable feelings and experiences. Be prepared – the parents are not portrayed sympathetically. As one critic stated, “…although Maisie’s situation is very specific — her parents are of a very affluent, very downtown Manhattan type with a lifestyle that few people live — her experience is unfortunately universal. We need to know what she knows.” Best for kids ages 15+.

 Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Comments:

  1. Superb site you have here but I was curious if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get suggestions from other knowledgeable
    people that share the same interest. If you have
    any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!

  2. Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return once again since I book-marked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change,
    may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  3. Hello! This post couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate!

    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to
    him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a completely different subject but it has pretty
    much the same page layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

  5. I do not even know how I stopped up here, however I assumed this publish was great.
    I don’t recognize who you’re however certainly you are going to a famous
    blogger for those who aren’t already. Cheers!

  6. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and
    wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you
    write again very soon!

  7. Wonderful article! That is the kind of info that are meant to be shared around
    the net. Disgrace on Google for no longer positioning this post higher!
    Come on over and discuss with my web site .
    Thank you =)

  8. Hello are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

  9. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You definitely know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  10. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative
    and engaging, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy that I found this during my search for something regarding this.

  11. Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your post is simply nice and i could assume
    you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to
    grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a
    million and please carry on the gratifying work.

  12. Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit yet
    again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be
    rich and continue to help others.

  13. I got this web page from my pal who told me concerning this website
    and at the moment this time I am browsing this website and reading very informative posts at this time.

  14. Right here is the perfect webpage for anyone who hopes to understand this
    topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with
    you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject that’s been discussed for many
    years. Excellent stuff, just great!

  15. I was excited to find this website. I wanted to thank you for ones time for this fantastic read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every part of it and i also have you bookmarked
    to see new stuff on your web site.

  16. Having read this I believed it was rather
    enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this content together.

    I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  17. Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it
    was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what
    I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying
    your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole
    thing. Do you have any points for rookie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  18. I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s
    both educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the
    head. The issue is something too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    I’m very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

  19. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everybody else encountering issues
    with your website. It appears as if some of the text within your content are running
    off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let
    me know if this is happening to them too? This may be
    a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Appreciate it

  20. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve visited this web site before but after going through a
    few of the articles I realized it’s new to me.

    Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be
    book-marking it and checking back frequently!

  21. I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody
    else experiencing issues with your website. It appears as if some of the written text on your posts are running off the screen.
    Can someone else please provide feedback and let me
    know if this is happening to them as well? This might be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve
    had this happen before. Cheers

  22. Excellent post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more
    on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit
    further. Thanks!

  23. Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m
    not seeing very good gains. If you know of any please share.
    Cheers!

  24. Fantastic goods from you, man. I have understand your
    stuff previous to and you are just extremely wonderful.

    I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way
    in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it
    wise. I can’t wait to read far more from you.
    This is really a wonderful website.

  25. Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems
    with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.

    I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *