A Heart Full of Love
an animated children’s short film
PHOENIX SHAKTI PRODUCTIONS
George Schwimmer, Ph.D.
Bette S. Margolis, M.A.
Author and Screenwriter
John Bradshaw and other experts in family dynamics tell us that up to 98% of Americans come from a dysfunctional family. Can we then expect to have a stable and happy adult population, when it comes from dysfunctional families? Clearly, a dysfunctional child will grow up to be a dysfunctional adult, unless some steps are taken to alleviate this. Dysfunctionality comes about from abuse, neglect, and various sorts of trauma—emotional and physical—which normally occur because parents are more concerned with their own issues than with the issues of their children.
Much has been said and written about the disintegration of the U.S. nuclear family, but some of the facts still are staggering:
- 70% of all first marriages will eventually end in legal divorce.
- 85% of divorced people will remarry.
- 75% of all remarriages involve children from prior marriages and former stepfamilies.
- 65% of all remarriages end in legal divorce.
- Every other family in the USA now has a stepparent, a stepchild, a stepsibling or some member of a stepfamily in it.
- Even five years after the breakup of the family, only approximately one-third of the children affected can be described as doing well, feeling good about themselves, and coping success-fully with school, friends, and home. About one-third have adjustment problems, often suffering from depression, low self-esteem and anger.
- Children from divorced families are more likely to drop out of high school, engage in premarital sex at an early age, become pregnant as teens and cohabit than children of married parents.
It is consequently time for a major effort to be made to eradicate the scourge of childhood neglect and abuse, most of it tied to broken families. Children need to be rescued and empowered, and the first step is to break the cycle and generational chain of childhood abuse. And the place to start is with the children, so that they can learn how to cope with the hand life has dealt them.
The easiest way for children to learn coping mechanisms is through something that is entertaining and that they can relate to. This is the premise of A HEART FULL OF LOVE.
To offset the serious nature of this topic, the characters are depicted as a family of delightful dogs who act out their roles with compassionate and subtly sophisticated humor and pathos, allowing the viewing audience—primarily children, but addressing all ages—to smile, laugh, cry, and learn through empathy with the characters’ struggles about themselves and their own personal challenges. It is a wonderful story which heals as it amuses, and is sure to draw a large audience of children, parents, and educators.
This television program is based on the award-winning children’s book A Heart Full of Love by writer/educator Bette S. Margolis, hailed as a “….new perspective on the developmental process of creating peace within oneself, with family, stepfamily and extended family, despite life‘s ‘slings and arrows‘, and still function at one‘s optimum best.” The program’s focus is on the problems of children of divorce, who now number over fifty million in the USA, with a million-and-a-half added to that number each year.
In A HEART FULL OF LOVE, Allison, 7, a Cocker Spaniel pup, relates and displays her conflicting feelings about her parents’ divorce, their significant others, and their eventual remarriages. Torn between sadness, grief, and fear of the changes in her life, Allison ultimately makes peace with herself, her family and stepfamily of dogs, with the compassionate guidance, patience and loving understanding that they offer her.
Possible Development Of A Series
This film was conceived with the idea of creating a TV series. The series would focus on Allison and her progression from age seven through childhood, up to age thirteen, and how she, her family and friends confront life’s up’s and down’s. The programs would encompass all the challenges faced by children and pre-teens, with each segment representing one month in Allison’s life.
Through this delightful family of human-like dogs, the problems of childhood stress and trauma would be examined, especially in the area of divorce, both entertaining and subtly instructing the children watching. Although the issues presented apply to all ages, this programming would focus on the five- to nine-year-old age groups to begin with. Although the initial segments would be concerned with the problems of children of divorce, the family dynamics depicted would resonate with others experiencing similar contemporary family situations and problems, as well as children of trauma. Allison and her family, neighbors and friends would also encounter and address problems experienced by children in populations largely ignored by television programming:
- children with parents who never married each other (a growing population of currently more than thirty million children in the US);
- children who have one or more parent in prison (there are more than three million US children in this category);
- children and adults with chronic illness (affecting over one hundred million people in the US—including ADHD Hyperactive Attention Deficit Disorder, which affects over five million US children);
- children with physical and mental disabilities (affecting over eight million people in the US);
- children suffering from obesity (affecting over eighteen million children in the US);
- trauma due to violence, fire, natural disasters, and accidents;
- and other ‘slings and arrows’ that are part of life’s up‘s and down‘s.