When Mom and Dad Break Up | EW.com

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B+

When Mom and Dad Break Up is a direct, it’s-OK-to-talk-about-your-feelings tape (one of a series that’s called Strong Families, Safe Families), and Alan Thicke — who plays the psychologist dad on Growing Pains and is a divorced father in real life — acts as host, therapist, and friend to kids whose parents are breaking up. ”This story is your story,” he says reassuringly. ”You are not alone.”

He explains that kids, ages 6 to 12, will talk about their feelings, ”maybe some of the same feelings you are having.” And the kids do so both articulately and honestly.

One gap-toothed boy says haltingly, ”I’d always wake up to find my dad in the kitchen. One morning there was only my mom.” Thicke’s warm — but not coddling — narrative continues throughout as he elaborates on what the kids on the tape are saying.

He delivers ”the toughest message of all”: that a child can’t get his parents back together. Then he reminds children that the one thing they can change is their feelings, and the way to do that is to talk about them.

In addition to the talk, there are songs that deal with common fears about divorce: Will Dad be lonely? Where will my room be? The songs get the point across, but they distract from the honest discussion. B+