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Film Looks at Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes

Jonah, one of the children interviewed in SPLIT. Photo courtesy of Christina McGee.

Jonah, one of the children interviewed in SPLIT. Photo courtesy of Christina McGee.

The documentary SPLIT, which examines the effects of divorce on children, shows how differently children can adjust to life after their parents’ marriages end.

One child interviewed in the half-hour film was glad his parents divorced because they fought so much when they were together and seem much happier now.

Another little boy named Trevor, with tears welling up in his eyes, recounts how he doesn’t spend as much time with a father who missed his elementary school graduation ceremony.

Christina McGhee, MSW, the social worker who served as consultant and content provider to the film, hopes it will serve as a great learning tool for social workers, parents and the general public to learn about divorce from a child’s point of view.

Filmmaker Ellen Bruno and social worker Christina McGhee are now working to get various organizations to watch and use the film, including the social work community. They are also considering doing another version of SPLIT that looks at how teenagers are affected by divorce. To learn more about the film visit

The film will also empower kids, who will learn there is hope and they can survive emotionally and thrive after their parents break up, McGhee said.

Christina McGhee, MSW

Christina McGhee, MSW

“Usually experts and adults tell about the adult experience,” said McGhee, an expert on divorce and children and author who runs a private practice in the Houston area. “This is actually pulling back the curtain and telling us exactly what kids are struggling with.”

“I think what it does is it really shines a bright light on the many times parents assume, because kids are not talking, that everything is fine,” she added.

Divorce is common in the United States. Forty percent of first marriages end in divorce and six out of 10 second marriages, according to an fact sheet from the makers of SPLIT.

And half of American children will live in a home headed by a single parent at some time in their childhoods.

Filmmaker Ellen Bruno.

Filmmaker Ellen Bruno.

Ellen Bruno, a filmmaker in the San Francisco Bay area, had parents who divorced and was divorced herself. Bruno is passionate about doing films on the human experience but had never found a documentary about kids from divorced households so decided to do one herself.

She reached out for experts on divorce to help her craft a film and came across McGhee. The two women ended up working together on SPLIT and found they had something in common — McGhee’s parents had divorced and her husband is a divorcee.

“The stars just aligned in the right way,” McGhee said. “Somehow I got on her email list.”

McGhee helped the filmmaking team decide which children to use in the film and what stories to tell. Some of the stories told in the film can be heart-rending but children who were part of test screenings said it was important their stories be told and these scenes kept in the final version of the movie, she said.

“Parents often had a harder time than the kids did,” McGhee explained. “Parents said, ‘You have to take that kid out’ but I said absolutely not because this is the voice of these kids.”

Social workers help children and their families overcome life’s hurdles, including divorce. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Kids and Families consumer website.





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  1. When parents fight kids are affected. I think they are more affected if both parents seperated.

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