Televised Divorce: A Common Childhood Trauma Comes to TV

Divorce is one of the more unpleasant experiences faced by people in the modern world, yet it remains one of the most common. Though ideas differ wildly about the wisdom of divorce and its potential effects on a family, there is little debate over the idea that the event can be especially difficult for children. Each year, however, a large number of children experience the impact that divorce can have on the concept of a family, with some circumstances more emotionally forgiving than others. In a way, the prevalence of divorce may help young people by giving those going through the process a greater chance of having a friend or peer who has experienced something similar and can relate. But soon, the intimate details of one divorce in particular, as well as its impact on a family, will be the subject of an in-depth reality television show.

The popular series “John and Kate Plus 8,” a show featuring a couple and their eight small children, has shocked many fans with news that the husband and wife will be proceeding with a divorce. Rather than cancel the show based on what might seem like an ending of the intended plot line, the producers have decided to incorporate the divorce into the show itself, keeping the cameras rolling while the family explores this common yet highly personal and emotionally volatile process. Criticism of the decision has been rampant, with many upset over the potential of the show to intrude on the family’s privacy and the children’s understanding as the divorce takes place. Others are welcoming the move, pointing out that it could contribute to a more open public forum on divorce and how families can take an effective approach.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Norma


    July 20th, 2009 at 10:42 AM

    This is terrible that TLC or whatever channel this show comes on has decided to run with this. What a horrible experience this already has been for this family and the children and now here they go into even more trauma and airing of dirty laundry. Just the classic case of every single adult in this situation putting themselves before that of the kids and what a terrible impact this is going to have on them in the end. Whatever happened to privacy and getting these things out behind closed doors? Evidently these are two people who do not mind being in the spotlight no matter the personal cost and a cable network that is more than willing to go along with them for the ride. Shame on them!

  • Dionne S.

    Dionne S.

    July 20th, 2009 at 6:52 PM

    The day the family signed their lives away by taking the TV company’s money was the day they gave up their privacy. I have no sympathy for the adults. They knew what they were doing and went into this with their eyes open. To bleat afterwards about press intrusion and having no privacy is pathetic.

    They weren’t famous. They applied for the show and invited this scrutiny of their lives in exchange for money. They saw the dollar signs and cared about nothing else.

    I hate reality shows for their superficiality and contrived, edited scenes. The irony is how unreal they really are.

    The kids I feel sorry for, getting dragged through all this. The TV company has plumbed new depths wanting to televise this as have this couple in agreeing to. Shame on the viewers too that will watch. They are why “the show must go on.”

  • Delilah


    July 21st, 2009 at 2:53 AM

    I totally disagree with having the children go through this on national TV. Everyone is going to remember these kids when they grow up what their parents did and how they aired it on tv. I believe in being honest with your children, but to have the whole world see this, something that should really be private in one’s own home, is not right. Anything to make money!

  • Cole


    July 21st, 2009 at 3:26 PM

    I am really not loving this whole Jon and Kate thing right now. Yeah I read about them in the tabloids too but before I thought long and hard about what all of this kind of exposure has to be doing to their kids. I am surprised that so many people are still watching. What is that- the proverbial train wreck that we all know we should not be watching but we just can’t seem to tear ourselves away from? I don’t know about everyone else but I am tired of this particualr drama. This is a case where some good strong grandparents need to step in and tell their grown kids to get a life away from the tv cameras.

  • Martha T.

    Martha T.

    July 25th, 2009 at 5:38 PM

    I watch reruns of old shows like Andy Griffith and Bewitched when I want to watch TV now. Reality shows depress me. Anything that I wouldn’t want to have my mother in the room with me watching I don’t watch. I want light entertainment and a smile on my face!

  • K. Robin

    K. Robin

    September 6th, 2009 at 1:07 AM

    The criticism will only improve the rating of the show.

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