A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The film is designed to play on your emotions with its young subjects' accounts of how divorce has affected them. The emotional messages hit their mark and are important for parents to hear, but the flipside of the equation is that it's not always easy to hear lectures on adult conduct from young kids. There are some light moments (as when a girl talks about the benefits of divorce, such as the two Christmases she gets to celebrate), but they're few and far between.
Positive Role Models
The kids are naturally honest and sincere about sharing their feelings. Adults aren't seen very often, but when they're there, they are shown enjoying their kids' presence.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Don't Divorce Me! Kids' Rules for Parents on Divorce chronicles the fallout of divorce from the point of view of kids who have lived through their parents' splits (both opposite-sex and same-sex couples). Their accounts range from sad to heartbreaking, not just in the details of what they've been through, but also in the raw honesty with which they share their stories. Their message is clear: Whatever your problems are as a couple, your kids' well-being needs to be your top priority, and you must be proactive in monitoring it. If yours is a family situation that could use some conversation starters about this issue with your kids, you'll find a lot of useful information here, regardless of whether you watch solo or as a group. Ultimately this is a definite know-your-kid situation, and you have to weigh the benefits of the important issues the subjects raise with the emotional toll listening to other kids pour out their hearts might have on your young ones.
Is It Any Good?
Let's be clear: These are candid trips down memory lane for young kids who've shouldered the stress of family break-ups. Surprisingly few of the subjects shed tears as they talk about rarely seeing a parent or having to move because of a divorce, but that doesn't mean you won't need a box of tissues as you watch and listen. Whether or not you've personally lived through the dissolution of a marriage, you can't help but feel for these innocent victims and imagine it's your own kids pouring out their hearts to the world about their family.
There is an inherent positive quality to the movie's exploitation of childish honesty. Do you doubt for a second that anything these kids say isn't true? No way. Does it cause you to think long and hard about how you act and talk within earshot of your kids? Absolutely, and in this regard, its message has a greater reach than just those families affected by divorce, since most of us could use a reminder about how kids absorb their surroundings now and then. Is this something you should watch with your kids? There's the sticking point, and it depends on a number of factors, including their ages, their sensitivity and anxiety levels, and how close to home the issue of divorce hits. For some, hearing other kids express emotions similar to their own might free them to talk about their feelings with you; for others, the subjects' sadness might hit too close to home and ramp up existing sadness. The bottom line? This is a masterfully designed documentary with important messages to share, but you need to preview it and weigh the pros and cons as they relate to your family's unique situation before you watch with your kids.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.