TV Rating: TV-PG
Other Choices: 30 Days, This American Life, Inocente
Common Sense Says: Know your kids' readiness for candid tales of divorce.
Common Sense Rates It:
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.
- Families can tailor the movie's messages to their own unique situations, talking about issues like disagreements, sadness, and divorce. Which of these topics most relate to what your family is going through right now?
- Kids: How do you express or deal with your emotions? Do you talk about them or turn to a hobby to take your mind off of them? Do you ever find you're bothered by lingering sadness or frustration over something that happened a long time ago? What does that tell you about how you handle stress?
- What do you wish your parents knew about how you feel in certain situations? What rules would you like to write for them? When do you feel happiest as a family?
What's the story?
DON'T DIVORCE ME! KIDS' RULES FOR PARENTS ON DIVORCE is a documentary produced by Rosie O'Donnell that compiles video clips of kids talking about their feelings surrounding their parents' divorces. About a dozen kids ranging in age from five to 10 reflect on how divorce has changed their lives, their living arrangements, their daily schedules, and their feelings toward each parent. With poignant honesty, they compile their experiences into a series of written rules for grown-ups, like "Spend time with us," "Don't say bad thing about the other parent," "Don't put me in the middle," and "Listen to us." The kids express themselves in interviews, in chat sessions with friends, and through artwork, all of which gives viewers a glimpse of how divorce looks and feels to them.
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.
The Good Stuff
Messages: 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.
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.
What to watch out for
Violence Not an issue
Sex: Not an issue
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue