As the eight children entered the room, we were filled with excitement and anticipation about what the day would bring. The Professor Child team had been envisioning this day for months. When we first came up with the idea of children teaching children about challenging life events, we had no idea the journey that our dream would take us on. Yet here we were, on Professor Child’s first filming day, about to hear eight children bravely share their own personal stories of divorce.
“Divorce means to me that my parents weren’t happy being married to each other and that they split apart so that they could be happy again. “ Canon, 13
The Professor Child project was inspired by Jenni O’Keefe’s unsuccessful search for positive, healing tools for a young family member who had been struggling with grief and divorce. Jenni was dismayed by many of the tools available for children dealing with grief and divorce. She wanted to find a way to instill a sense of hope and healing for kids. “I knew there was an opportunity to create something special,” said Jenni. After partnering with co-founders Sharon Richards, a mental health counselor, and Rory Kidder, a former public school teacher, Professor Child was launched with the main focus of children teaching children by sharing their own lessons through personal stories.
“My biggest worry was me not getting to see my dad a lot and that we wouldn’t get to go on another whole family trip.” Silvie, 9
Divorce was a natural choice for our first film. We have all been affected by divorce in our own lives and were eager to hear about divorce from a child’s perspective. After witnessing family members experience divorce, we thought we knew what the children might say in their interviews. We were wrong. As we listened and watched these eight children share their stories, we became the students, and they became our professors.
“I think that divorce has changed me as a person because I think it’s made me stronger and more emotional at the same time.” Mac, 11
In the film, Children and Divorce, we hear how children define divorce, what it means to them, how they heard the news, and their biggest worries. They share what it’s like to go back and forth between homes and what their parents’ relationships are like post-divorce. You will also hear what has helped them, what advice they would give to kids and parents, and what gives them hope.
“The hardest thing about my parents being divorced is not being able to see the other parent.” Mac, 11
The documentary style film offers simple visuals of the children telling their unique stories. “We didn’t know what to expect as we prepared to film these children and their stories. We just knew we wanted to provide a venue for them to share their experience, what they have learned from it, and what advice they would give to children affected by divorce. Ultimately, we were blown away by their honesty, sincerity and courage,” said Sharon Richards, co-founder.
“My hopes and dreams are that someday my parents will be nicer to each other and to grow up and have a good life even though my parents were divorced. “ Sammy, 9
After viewing Children and Divorce, Kim Kelley, Licensed Professional Counselor, had this to say, “It is one thing when an adult gives advice and says everything will be OK; it is another message altogether when a ‘peer’ says it.” Children listen to their peers. Children have a powerful voice that is relatable, healing and hopeful. Ultimately, we want children to know they are not alone in what they are experiencing and that much can be learned by simply listening to another child’s story.
“Sometimes I do feel like I have to choose sides.” Silvie, 9
There is a common thread that runs through each story and connects them to any child who has experienced divorce. Here are just some of the lessons we learned from our brave professors:
We learned that divorce is not a one-time event, but an on-going part of children’s lives that needs to be addressed and talked about in order for healing to occur.
We learned that parents might not want to bring up the topic of divorce after the divorce has occurred because they love their child and fear they are re-opening a past wound. But what we learned is that an on-going dialogue about divorce is imperative and that parents need to make an effort to focus on the child’s needs during and after divorce.
We learned that children don’t want to hear their parents’ fight. They feel parents are setting a bad example that they wouldn’t want to see in their own children.
We learned that they want their parents to behave nicely towards each other and keep their marital problems in check in front of them.
We learned how important it is for children to talk about the divorce and share their feelings with someone they trust.
We learned how frustrating it can be to go back and forth between homes. By listening to their stories and watching this film, parents will learn how to make life much easier for their children.
“If I had a magic wand I would put my parents back together. People say it’s never going to happen, but I would SO put them back together!” Brynn, 12
Here is the interesting thing. We thought we were making a film for children, and it is. But what we have discovered is that children can teach children AND adults. We thought we knew what children go through in a divorce, but what we learned from making this film is that we don’t know it all. These eight children opened our eyes and gave us a deeper understanding of what divorce is like.
“Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Be strong, talk to anyone you can about it that you feel safe talking to. Let your emotions pour out and don’t be afraid.” Sammy, 9
About Professor Child:
All of Professor Child’s educational products focus on providing messages that are relatable, non-clinical, and purely child focused. They are used by parents, teachers, and therapists to foster a healing dialogue with children. All of Professor Child’s films come with a free workbook filled with thought provoking discussion questions and creative exercises to help children work through the healing process. Professor Child is currently in production on three additional films focusing on children who have lost a loved one and are experiencing grief, children who have a sibling with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and children from military families. Learn more about Professor Child’s projects, watch a trailer of the film, Children and Divorce, or purchase Children and Divorce at www.professorchild.com.