A woman arrives at a crossroads about her marriage. Directed by Allen L. Sowelle, and featuring wonderful performances by Caroline Amiguet and Helene Cardona, this episode was adapted by Laurent Chardin-Rischmann from Alejandra Okie-Hollister’s “Story of my Life.”
Une femme arrive à un carrefour de son mariage. R´ealis´e par et doté de magnifiques performances par Caroline Amiguet et Hélène Cardona, cet épisode a été adapté par Laurent Chardin-Rischmann d’Alejandra Okie-Hollister de “Histoire de ma vie.”
In this episode written by Dave Davis, we share a woman’s concerns over her daughter being misdiagnosed for the purposes of her soon to be ex-husband not wanting to deal with the possibility of having an autistic child.
Directed by Allen L. Sowelle
Written by Dave Davis
Emily – Lara Wickman
Ted – Gabriel Rissa
Below are some resources for those interested in learning more about Autism.
We reached out to writer Scott Kassel to get the inside scoop on Every Other Weekend.
How did you come to get involved with Front Seat Chronicles? What piqued your interest about the series?
When the producers of the series first mentioned the project to me I was immediately intrigued by the simplicity and the power of the concept—two people in a location everyone can relate to, sharing a powerful and transformative moment. Virtually everyone has had their own “front seat chronicle” at some point, and hopefully these pieces will resonate with the viewers.
With practically 50% of all marriages failing in the US, I imagine child custody is a common topic. What drew you to the subject matter?
My parents divorced when I was very young, so I have first-hand experience with the topic. Now, as an adult, many of my friends are going through the same thing as parents. More than the failure of a marriage, what interested me most was the fallout of divorce and how it affects parents and children who are going through such a turbulent life experience. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that the situation can be just as difficult and painful for parents as it is for children.
In your opinion, what’s the most common mistake separating parents make? (another way of phrasing it – What could parents do differently?)
Divorce is difficult enough without a child feeling like they’re caught in the middle of a war between their two heroes. I think one of the most common mistakes parents make is allowing conflict with their estranged spouse to creep into their child’s consciousness. While some conflict may be impossible to hide, I think it’s important that parents present a united front and agree to co-parent in the most effective way possible. By letting their children know that the divorce in no way diminishes their love for them, that they still care for one another, and that none of their marital issues are their children’s fault, parents can help smooth this difficult transition.
What would you suggest for non-custodial father’s to pay attention to in regards to the emotional needs of their child(ren)?
Try to be as involved as your child’s life as possible. Frequent phone calls, coming to ballgames, concerts, important events and the like. Looking back, I think my dad did a great job of that when I was growing up and I’d like to give him a big shout out for that! Love you, dad!
Does your familiarity with the subject matter prepare you to be a better father you think? When you become one of course.
I think my personal experiences will definitely shape my approach to parenting and relationships in general. I hope to be the kind of father that is involved in every aspect of my children’s lives.
What was it like watching your episode the first time? Any thoughts on the overall process?
Seeing your work brought to life is always a great feeling. The actors and director did a great job expressing my ideas in an honest, open way, and they actually created a couple of great moments that I hadn’t even envisioned when I originally wrote the script. Overall, this was a great process and I’m happy to have been a part of it.
Frank and his son Oscar get used to seeing each other a little less after a divorce. How do they keep their close father-son bond?
Ver en Espanol:
The conversation you have when you tell your child you are divorcing is not to be taken lightly.
PIC.tv Producer Alejandra Okie recently talked to Kelly Brown, a school-based Licensed Professional Counselor, to get advice on how parents can tell their children the news.
Alejandra Okie: How important is it to plan and think through how to have this conversation with your child?
Kelly Brown: You have to remember that telling your child you are getting separated or divorced is only one in a series of events and changes that will have a long-lasting impact on your child’s life. For example, the child may start living in two households, then one or both of their parents may start dating and may remarry, and so on. You want to cooperate as much as possible with your ex-spouse from the very beginning so that your child will have the best chances of adjusting and being happy in the long term. Think of your child’s needs first and try to put your anger toward your spouse aside.
AO: What should the parents do before having this conversation with their children?
KB: The parents should talk about what they plan on saying and not saying to their child when they first break the news. They should make plans for both of them to be present when having this conversation with their child, if possible. Plan on explaining, in general terms, why this is happening. You should also tell your child what will be changing, for example, if a parent is moving out and if the child will be going back and forth from one house to the other. You may need to repeat some of this information later since your child may not take it all in. Give your child a chance to ask questions.
AO: Are there any key messages that parents should provide to their child when breaking the news about the divorce?
KB: Children, especially young children, need to feel safe and that their basic needs will be met. Statements such as, “We will always be your mom and dad” and “We will always love you” are very important to a child in this situation and should be repeated over several days and weeks. They should also be told that it’s not their fault that their parents are divorcing.
AO: Are there certain things that parents should not do or say?
KB: The most important thing is that both parents stay calm and not start pointing fingers or placing blame. You want to show your child that both of you will be working together as parents. This will help reassure your child so he or she feels less anxious.
AO: Are there any books that you recommend for parents?
KB: Yes, there is a great book that I recommend for all of my clients in this situation. It is “Cooperative Parenting and Divorce: A Parent Guide to Effective Co-Parenting.” It includes helpful tips and exercises to put your child first while going through this difficult situation. You can look for it at your public library.
AO: Can you recommend any good books for young children?
KB: My favorite book that I use with elementary age children is Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families. It can help kids talk about their own thoughts and feelings related to divorce.
AO: Thank you so much!
KB: You’re very welcome.
Kelly Brown, M.A., is a school-based licensed professional counselor in North Carolina. She provides individual therapy to students in grades K through 12 and their parents.
Other resources that may be helpful include:
Children deal with a lot of conflicting emotions when their parents are divorcing, and it’s important that the adults in their life help them through the difficult experience.
Heart & Mind: Children & Divorce is a website from Dishon & Block, Divorce and Family Law Experts with a list of excellent activities you can do to help children deal with divorce.
You can try:
- Drawing pictures – Many children can have difficulty expressing emotions in words. Drawing can make it easier for children to express their emotions in a positive way and helps parents understand how they truly feel. From the drawings you can ask the child specific questions. Why has he or she drawn what they’ve drawn and why? Ask them…
- What does divorce look like?
- What does divorce make you feel?
- To draw pictures of feelings like anger, sadness, or loneliness.
- To draw a picture of your family, including anyone you feel is part of your family.
- To draw a picture of the homes you live in.
- If a genie could grant you one wish related to your family, what would you wish for? Draw a picture of your wish.
- Conversation starters – After a divorce, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Some questions to ask:
- How has your life changed since the divorce?
- Why do you think people get married?
- Why do you think people get divorced?
- What is a happy family like?
- Who do you talk with about the divorce?
- Has anything good come from the divorce?
- What do you worry about?
- What do you think your life will be like in five years?
- What good qualities does your dad have? Your mom?
- If you could change anything about your life, what would you make different?
- Communicating from a distance – When one of the parents doesn’t live in the same city as their child, it’s important for that parent to maintain strong relationships even from a distance. Here are some suggestions:
- Email each other often.
- Start a postcard club. Give some stamped cards to your child, and take turns sending a card each week.
- Set a specific time for weekly or monthly phone dates. It’ll give you something to look forward to!
- Create a shared journal that you can write your thoughts and feelings in. Exchange the notebook when you see each other.
- Create a family web site, and post information and pictures to each other.
- Skype or use FaceTime (if you have an iPhone or Mac) to talk while seeing each other using video. Or make audio and videotape recordings.
And even more helpful resources:
Getting divorced can be expensive. Court fees can cost up to $500 and if you hire a lawyer, you can expect to pay $100 an hour at the very least. Follow these steps to find legal information about divorce as well as low-cost legal resources to help you with the process.
- Read all you can. Divorce can be a complicated process, especially if you own property with your spouse or if you have children and you have to address custody and child support.
- Find valuable information online. Read articles written by lawyers on sites such as Avvo on divorce and separation, child custody, and child support. Be careful with websites that sell products and services.
- Also, visit your local library and ask the librarian for help finding books and resources on divorce.
- Learn about the laws in your state. The divorce process and the way custody and child support work vary by state. Look up your state government’s website on USA.gov. Then do a search for “divorce,” “custody” or “child support” on your state’s fgovernment website to find specific information.
- Find a lawyer that specializes in family law/divorce. Start by asking for recommendations from friends and family. You can also search for a family law attorney on the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers website or contact your state or local Bar Association. Meet with at least two attorneys to explain your situation and make sure you feel comfortable working with that person. You can ask for a free consultation. After the consultation, you can expect to pay at least $100 an hour and the attorney will work on your case for many hours. Read these five tips before meeting with a lawyer to keep the costs down. If you can’t afford to pay an attorney per hour, you could subscribe to Pre-paid Legal Services. For $16 a month you can get unlimited hours of phone consultation and document reviews provided by a family law attorney. If you want to hire the attorney to handle your case, this service will give you 25 percent off their standard hourly rate.
- Prepare your own divorce documents online and have them reviewed by a family law attorney.
- Step 1: If you and your spouse agree on the basic terms of the divorce, you may be able to use an online service to prepare your divorce documents as an uncontested divorce. You fill out an online questionnaire which will be used to prepare your documents. LegalZoom offers this service for $299. You’ll have 30 days to review and make changes to the documents.
- Step 2 (IMPORTANT): Pay a family law attorney or use Pre-paid Legal Services to review the legal documents prepared online to make sure you are not agreeing to something that you may regret in the future.
- Work with a family mediator specializing in divorce. If you and your spouse are close to agreeing on the terms of the divorce, you could hire a mediator. The mediator meets with the husband and wife to help them resolve any issues that they can’t agree on. In states where mediation is not required, mediation can be a less expensive alternative to going to court. The mediator is neutral and doesn’t give legal advice. If your case is particularly difficult, you could hire a lawyer to come with you to the mediation sessions.
Other resources that may be helpful include:
Emotional Coping with Divorce:
- Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. & Kathryn Patricelli, MA and Mental Health America (MHA)
- Life After Divorce: 3 Survival Strategies from WebMD
Getting help for the kids:
Director Allen Sowelle talked with writer Alejandra Okie about FSC, episode 2: “The Story of my Life.”
Now I may know the answer to this, but our viewers won’t, how did you get involved with the series Front Seat Chronicles?
I’m a big fan of the concept behind the series. So many people have had one of those moments talking to a family member or a friend about a life-changing event in their lives so I felt this was a great opportunity to tell a story.
What drew you to that particular subject matter?
The story is not autobiographical but I have known women who become completely paralyzed when contemplating divorce and think that they have to accept and live with their current circumstances.
It is sad to see couples get divorced and families broken apart. But it is also quite upsetting to think that some women will live their entire lives being completely unhappy because they think they can’t do anything to change their situation.
We hear about how earlier generations stuck it out when it came to marriage. Yet today over half dissolve for one reason or another. It seems like it’s a delicate dance between riding it out or living life earnestly, occupying your own happiness. Do you think economic realities have more of an effect on marriages today than 50 years ago, or is it something else?
It’s true that women today have more financial freedom and can make more choices. But being able to get a job doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll feel empowered to get divorced. In addition to money, other issues weigh heavily on the decision to get divorced: breaking the family unit apart, losing a partner, isolation, shame and possibly raising children alone, or sharing or losing custody if there are children in the family.
As the credits roll on “Story of my Life,” for you personally, what do you hope viewers take from it?
I hope that women who are in a similar situation realize that they have options and that they don’t have to be unhappy for the rest of their lives. After all, when one is unhappy, it’s more likely that family and others around you will be unhappy. I hope women in this situation realize that they can reinvent their lives and discover a happier version of themselves after divorce.
As the Latino voice becomes more prominent, more full in the American chorus, what other stories are important to you? And that’s not to marginalize you as a Latina writer – we all know that happens way too often for folks of color already.
I think stories like divorce are somewhat universal—women of any race or ethnicity, or socioeconomic background for that matter, may face this situation. But Latinas and other immigrant women do have unique stories that need to be heard. So many immigrant families find themselves separated because of immigration laws—children growing up far away from parents. And there are immigrant women who suffer abuse but are afraid to get help because they fear getting deported. In farm working communities some families have to take their young children to work with them in the fields where they are exposed to dangerous conditions so they can make ends meet. And an entire generation of immigrant children is running into a brick wall after graduating high school because they cannot attend college in the U.S. even though they grew up in this country. We’re talking about real people and it would make such a big difference if someone was there to listen.
Well let me end with this – it was an honor to collaborate with you Alejandra on this episode. Our two exquisite actors, Veronica Rocha and Jessica Tomé were so solid, made each take – each emotional beat – effortlessly palpable. English and in Spanish. Hopefully they made you proud. We got to do this again, only with you on set, directing.
I agree, the actors really made the story come alive. It’s been a pleasure working with you, Allen. I look forward to watching the next episode.