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American Girl (and Boy) Divorce

amerdivorceExplaining divorce to children is a complicated, heavy-hearted task, but it’s important to help them understand. Since divorce has become a pervasive part of our world, there are many resources to help broach the topic of divorce with children. Many children’s TV shows and books are helping parents explain what divorce is, and now those TV shows and books have a new ally in Julie Albright.

Julie Albright is a 9 year-old San Francisco native from 1974, who just happens to be a the latest American Girl doll. All the American Girl historical characters live during a time of historical significance, and for 70′s child Julie Albright that is divorce.

That 70′s Divorce Rate

Many ascribe the high divorce rate in the 1970′s to the Women’s Liberation Movement, which pushed for gender equality. As a result of this, women were able to enter the workforce and were no longer dependent upon men and the institution of marriage to survive. The way women viewed marriage altered, and as a result women felt free to leave unhappy marriages.

While the Women’s Liberation Movement was a great gain for civil rights and women’s rights, the high divorce rates created a large group of children of divorce. Divorce was a secretive aspect of life people rarely spoke of or were confronted with. As such, the resources and knowledge about the effects of divorce on children were minimal to zero.

The Julie Albrights of the World

Julie Albright, like all American Dolls historical characters, has a book series. In that book series, Julie shares her sadness and confusion about her parents divorce. Some parents may feel their children shouldn’t be exposed to these “adult” topics, but sharing Julie’s experience assists children of divorce realize they are not alone. Also, Julie’s stories show children that life will be okay, even after divorce.

For children whose parents are married, Julie’s story and her experiences provide insight and understanding in an area they may be completely unaware of. Besides, Julie’s best friend Ivy provides children of intact families with an example of how to deal with topics of divorce as an outsider. In the face of divorce, children whose parents are married may wonder if their parents will be next, and may feel insecure about their own families. The Ivy character calms these anxious feelings by showing not every marriage ends in divorce.

How to Handle Divorce With Children

Divorce may becoming more prevalent in our world, but that doesn’t mean divorce is any easier on children than before. Divorce highly impacts children in psychological ways forever, no matter how it is approached. But parents can lessen the impact and make the impact more positive by handling the divorce appropriately.

For starters, both parents must sit down and talk with the child about the divorce. This is crucial because the divorce talk sets the tone for the rest of the family’s interactions. Both parents must speak calmly and politely to each other, and focus on making the point (repeatedly) that the child is not the cause of the divorce. Allow the child to ask questions, and answer them honestly and openly; however, do not go into the gritty details the child doesn’t need to know about just yet (like the cheating spouse and such). Also, always be available to talk about the divorce or the child’s feelings; this is important to continue to develop the child’s trust, confidence, and self-expression.

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