Parental Legacy

Our parents have a powerful hold on us throughout our lives. In order to recognize how your parents and your childhood may be impacting you and your relationship, Dr. Phil suggests that you and your partner answer these questions. Find out how your past could contaminate your future, and then you can make conscious decisions to behave differently.

Get two chairs. You and your partner now sit in the chairs, with one of you having your knees slightly apart and touching the front edge of your partner's chair. The other partner should have his or her knees together so that they can fit between the first partner's knees. Both of you put your hands in your lap as opposed to folded across your chest. From the moment you sit down, make and maintain eye contact. This is what is referred to as a dyad. That is simply a term that describes a two-person unit where the partners are face to face and are involved in active eye contact.

Dr. Phil recommends that each partner take turns answering all the questions about his/her mother before moving on to the questions about his/her father.

Reach down deep into your gut, deep into your heart, and tell the truth. Speak with absolute honesty.

Envision your mother, good or bad, happy or sad.

1) Complete the sentence, "What I got from my mother I did not want ..."

2) Complete the sentence, "What I resent about my mother ..."

3) Complete the sentence, "What I love about my mother ..."

4) Complete the sentence, "How my relationship with my mother contaminated my marriage ..."

5) If your mother had one minute left in this life, what would you tell her?

Next, come into the presence of your father.

1) Complete the sentence, "What I got from my father I did not want ..."

2) Complete the sentence, "What I resent about my father ..."

3) Complete the sentence, "What I love about my father ..."

4) Complete the sentence, "How my relationship with my father contaminated my marriage ..."

5) If your father had one minute left in this life what would you tell him?


Dr. Phil encourages you to embrace the good things that you inherited from your parents, but leave the negative influences behind. Realize you are the parent now. You can make a life decision to choose differently.