Children wondered where parent had gone

Flash |QuickTime

Angelo and Angel Pinet were 10 and 11 years old respectively, when one day they began to wonder where their stepfather, Jose, had gone. He had always been around since as long as they could remember. Their mother, Jenny Carrasquillo, told them that he was away on vacation. Weeks turned into months and the children sensed something was wrong.

What the boys did not know yet was that they had joined the ranks of another 1.5 million American children with an incarcerated parent. But it was painfully clear to them that their lives had changed in ways big and small. Money got tighter with only their mother working, and Father’s Day was no longer a joyous event

With the passage of time, both boys, now 17 and 18, often ponder how Jose’s incarceration has affected them in ways seen and unseen. Angelo says he went into a dark depression and tried to commit suicide at school. Angel says that as the older brother, he started to see himself as the man of the family. He says he had to hold himself together as his family moral and finances crumbled because of Jose’s incarceration. The most difficult thing for him was to see his mother’s health decline with her growing anxiety over their financial situation and her constant crying.

Angelo and Angel continue to keep in touch with their stepfather. They speak to him on the phone and visit him in prison, but those short encounters do little to make up for his absence at home. Angelo attributes his lack of interest in school to his stepfather’s incarceration. Seeing other boys with their fathers is always a jarring reminder. For Angel, his achievements always have a twinge of the bittersweet. When he was promoted to manager at the restaurant where he works, he was happy for his success, but also felt that it added to the list of events that Jose could not enjoy with them as a family.

In this video interview, Angelo and Angel talk about their lives after Jose’s incarceration, and their hope that he will come home soon.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: How did you try to comfort the parent who was at home with you?

[Use the comments feature below or call (646) 867-1891 to leave an audio message.]

About Ana Toro