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Posted: December 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A chat with Valdora Roachford

Photo by Mandi Singer/

The Roachford family were featured on ABC's reality show "Wife Swap" Friday evening. Pictured from left in the living room of their Newton County home are: Gregory Jr., 15, Anna, 11, Joshua, 14, David, 7, Valdora, Greg, Briana, 19, Melita, 8, Ruby...

Below is a transcript of the chat with Valdora Roachford from Monday morning. The Roachford family was featured in the ABC reality show "Wife Swap," which aired this past Friday.

Val: I just wanted to thank everybody for watching the show. It meant a lot to me for people in our town to view it because it's not something you do every day.

Question: What's your family's schedule like?

Val: The younger kids get up much earlier than the older kids. We get up, we get our rooms together, we get breakfast going. Sometimes we have a later start because we're up talking to each other. And then we get into school work. (The children are enrolled in an online home school).

 My younger ones I work with, I log them on. The older ones log themselves on.

My oldest goes to college. She goes to Georgia Perimeter College, the Newton Campus. My husband or I take her there every day.

Question: Did you get to meet the other wife or family before the show?

Val: No, in the show, the wives don't know each other. The families don't know each other. The only time you meet the wife is when you have your table meet and that's after the whole visit.

She didn't know either, where she was going. I didn't know until I got into the airport.

Question: I thought it was great the way you had Berwick family do a holiday day. Did you come up with the ideas yourself, or did producers suggest them?

 Val: I think it was both. We realized that he had missed so many holidays we needed to have a day filled with so many holidays.

The producers kind of stood off.  They're there with the cameras, but it's not scripted so they can't tell you what to say or what to think. If they need to keep an engagement going, they may encourage you to speak more or talk more with each other. Or to explore. For the most part, they're not engaged that way.

Question: Have your children been in movies before?

Val: My children have just done extra work for films. They've done "Warm Springs," an HBO presentation. There was the "ATL," which they were the boys playing in the water in the beginning of the movie. They've done, just recently, "Your Presence Requested," a movie that's coming out. I'm not sure if it's a TV series. They've done "The Gospel." And "Sombodies," on TV.  They don't all get these kinds of things all at once. But whom=ever can get the part does it.

Comment:  I watched the show and saw how you responded to the 57 year old child in a man’s body.  I don’t know how you kept from really doing the neck role but you know I was at home doing it for you.  When you told him you’d like to see him throw you out of his house, I was on the edge of my sofa saying, he’s about to get beat down!...Now. I’ve never watched the show completely but I heard there would be a local family and I actually work with the soccer coach from the scene where the kids were on the soccer field, that’s why I toned in but you have become my local heroin because you have shown America how to raise children, keep a clean home and demand respect from their children all without the stereotypes. You even turned that husband around to see that beating down his wife verbally was not alright.  Also, your family is WONDERFUL!!! I just fell in love with them!...They stood up for you when the woman wanted them to actually say negative things towards you. Your family reminds me of mine. I have 11 siblings and we are all best friends.  We attend a wonderful local church with a dynamic youth ministry. We’d love to meet your family.  We both have enough people for a softball game, volleyball game, etc. I hope to hear from you soon

Val: I wasn't here when they did the soccer scene but my daughter has soccer in her blood. It is something she's always wanted to be a part of. I think she would make a great asset on somebody's team. I would love to meet up with her and have Ariel join the team. We've been looking for the opportunity.

The first week, I was doing her, and it was pretty easy to do her. I think the hardest part was dealing with the father. He did have some very rude moments that weren't caught.  He had some disrespectful moments and I'm not used to that. 

I had to work on what I was going to say next, or how I was going to respond to some of the things that he did, or didn't do.

 A lot of people think it is scripted, but when you're doing theses shows, you have to be you. You have to be true to that. Everyone has held true to who they really are.

When a strange person comes into the house, we're going to put our best foot forwad, but that's not the idea. The idea is the treat the other woman the same way you would with your wife. But it's different when they come in with a different set of values. There lies the experiment.

Question: What was it like with the cameras around? Do people act naturally?

Val: It is if they're in your face constantly. The first few days, you do have to get used to it. With the other family, you're feeling your way around and basically you're tyring to get an understanding of what and who you're dealing with. When I came into the house, I knew it wasn't as many people that lived there as in my own home. In the pictures, I knew there only three or four people. At the time I found out, I was in Faith's room.

Question: Other than being away from your family, what was your biggest challenge to overcome as part of your new family?

Val: The biggest challenge was doing something I wasn't comfortable with. That was the chicken suit. It was just downright silly. I can be silly, but a chicken suit and going into an office, I've never done that before. That was a little difficult. The other challenge was the father and his lack of respect for women. Women, we've had to deal with a lot. Some women have gone through divorce and had to raise children on their own. Some women like myself stay and home and raise the children, and that can be a difficult thing. We should respect each other's roles.

That doesn't sit well with me at all (the Berwick's father's behavior). He's speaking words in front of his child that are degrading her mother.

One of the most noticible things was that Denise and her husband don't have a problem arguing in front of their daughter. That's one of the reasons I told her that none of the arguements that happen are her fault. That's why you see the scene of me sitting down and talking to her. That's not a normal thing for a man to talk to a woman that way. It wouldn't, shouldn't be normal for a woman to just take that and to take anything less that respect.

I also said to her, how to deal with when they are arguing, she can excuse herself. She can do that. That's just a way of dealing with it without being disrespectful.

Question: What was the reaction of friends and family who saw the show?

Val: Wow, one of the things they said it was entertaining. It was funny. When we hosted the screening party, they were just laughing. One of the things the women felt was, when I said "As long as you beat your woman down, nothing will go right for you." You can't expect God to bless your mess, because he doesn't want you to continue in it. I hope that's something that Pete recognized, that she's his partner. She's going to be with him when he's sick, when he can no longer sing or do something for himself. She's going to be the one to clean him, when the crowd is gone. So it makes no sense to mistreat her.

My family thought it was funny when I did the chicken suit. And the scene when Pete said he's going to throw me out, they were wondering what would happen next.

I promise you I was not going to lay my hands on that man. He may be small but he was probably strong.

Question: What did you think of your family's reaction to Denise?

I think if my children were disrespectful of her, I would have to discpiline them. My whole thing is to respect authority. They may not understand why she does what she does, but voice how you feel with resepect. I know Briana doesn't like arguement between grown people. The way I taught her to (deal with it) was to talk

One of the things you didn't see was my husband had been trying to foster that rapport with Denise, to get them to cooperate. Some of the things she wanted them to do was embarassing, especially for my 7-year-old. Brianna was just reiterating some of the things he had said.

If you have two weeks of filming, there's some things you won't actually see.

One of the things you didn't see, Denise, as you can see, she gets really vocal. And I remember Brianna saying that was really surprising to her, that she would be shouting over. She kept saying "Can I ask you something?"

Brianna said, "Mommy, I had to step back and remember who I was talking to." Their level of repsect should always remain... this is not a peer, this is an adult.

Another time Denise said, "Can I ask you a question?" Brianna said, "Ok, you can ask."

I got the same thing from her husband. He didn't want to hear what I had to say, when he was playing the guitar in the car.

That's basically how he feels about his wife. He doesn't want to hear her.

Question: Were you happy with the way the show portrayed things?

Val: I was satisfied. I hope Denise was. I can't speak for them. I think if it were my husband that was acting the way he was acting, I would be fairly embarassed. I think my husband, I wouldn't say I was embarassed by how he handled things. She wanted them to spray this spray stuff around. We homeschool. Where she wanted the children to play was where my children work at. We have computers that do not belong to us, they belong to the school. My husband wanted them to have fun away from very important property. And it was August and it was warm.

One of the things that I think people thought, when they saw me helping Pete put the chain on the door. I'm a person that believes people should pursue their cdreams. We're not doing home school to stifle our chldren. It allows them to do a lot more things. They play golf, they play guitar. They had their guiltars before the show.

The whole purpose of Pete putting his guitars up was he wasn't getting the fact that he wasn't spending any time with his daughter. This man stays home, he doesn't work a 9-5 like other people. It should allow him the flexibility to help raising his child. The house is fairly big, there's not a lot he has to help his wife with. This man has the capability of being there for his wife and his child. His asperations don't have to overshadow them.

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