But the way they told their kids was a major parenting FAIL.
Although neither parent used the word "divorce" on the show, the point was clear: Dad would be moving to a new home.
Dr. Leah Klungness -- co-author of "The Complete Single Mother" -- says the scene was a poignant reminder of the pain divorce causes children.
It was also a reminder of what NOT to do when it comes to sharing such life-changing news with your children.
For starters, the parents mistakenly ushered Sally and Bobby into the living room, a very formal space where the kids have rarely spent time -- except maybe for Christmas festivities.
Bobby was clearly confused and sad. And Sally got angry. She blamed her mom for forcing Dad to leave. And she also did what no one else in her father's life would dare to do. When Don said, "I'm not going, I'm just living elsewhere," Sally would not have it.
"You say things and you don't mean them," she said. "You can't just do that."
So, if you're facing this emotionally painful parenting responsibility today, how do you share this news with your children?
Dr. Leah stresses that sharing such serious news in a "formal" adults-only place like the living room only intensifies a child's shock and pain. Where's the comfort when you are in a room you are typically not allowed to enter?
She says that this would be like taking your children to a fancy restaurant to break the news. You really need to choose a kid-friendly place where your children feel comfortable.
Secondly, Dr. Leah says that it's very important to tell your kids this news separately -- not together, as Betty and Don did.
In "Mad Men," the parents had not anticipated that their kids would react so differently. That's why group announcement is NOT the way to go. Moreover, telling your kids separately will give them the chance to have their feelings -- and respond.
Lastly, Dr. Leah says that it's crucial to have some follow-up. The announcement should be the first step -- not the last step.
Don and Betty made no attempt to acknowledge their kids' feelings -- or to respond honestly to the realities of Don moving out. Perhaps telling each child separately might have eased some of the pain.
At the end of "Mad Men," we also wonder what's next for these children. Don and Betty seemed to have no plan for the children beyond the announcement. The children are left with all of their sadness, confusion, and anger. But to whom will they turn?
Steeped in their own pain, Don and Betty seem unable to understand how both children are devastated by this news. Sadly, that's typical for many divorcing parents.
|Rachel Sarah, a.k.a. "Single Mom Seeking" blogs at SingleMomSeeking.com and co-founded SingleMommyHood.com, the first-ever website to offer "a whole new way to think about life."|