April 14, 2008
You’ve heard the sayings, “Money can’t buy happiness,” and “Money is the root of all evil.” The family moving into The Dr. Phil House proves these sayings are true! They have waged a vicious war of finger-pointing and accusations against each other, all because of the almighty dollar. Their time in The House will be the first real communication they’ve had in over two years!
Lisa is at odds with her mother, Sonja, over her share of eight acres of property that they bought together. She says her mother put up a fence dividing the property unfairly. Sonja accuses Lisa of trying to extort money from her and inflicting parental abuse. She feels so betrayed by Lisa that she intends to leave everything in her will to her younger daughter, Lisa’s half-sister, Sara. Lisa is furious that she’s been left out and that her mother is choosing her sibling over her. Sara sides with her mother and says Lisa has always been jealous of her, and if Lisa thinks she can get Sonja to change her will, she’s wrong! Sonja’s husband, Dan, and Lisa’s husband, Javan, support their wives 100 percent. Can Dr. Phil get this family to focus on healing their relationship instead of on dividing their land?
Part 1 Summary:
Dr. Phil greets the family via video as they settle into The House. He points out a huge dollar bill that hangs on the wall behind them and says, “I just put it up there so every time you walk by you can remember that this is what your family has been reduced to.” With the help of family therapist Dr. Tara Fields, the clan gets down and dirty, telling each other their grievances. Sparks fly between Lisa and Sonja, and after the exercise, both women continue to defend their positions.
Lisa and Sara face off in a dyad led by Dr. Fields, where they read and explain an emotionally-charged statement each has made about the other. When Lisa calls Sara lazy and worthless, Sara takes her to task, pointing out that those comments are really an attack on their mother. When Sara says she’s upset that Lisa is mad at her for being born, Lisa points out that perhaps Sonja is brewing this feud between the two of them. Lisa also reveals that she believes Sara is Sonja’s favorite child, and all she wants is a place in the family. The discussion brings both women to tears, and they agree they have wanted a sisterly relationship with each other. Unbeknownst to Lisa and Sara, Sonja is watching their interaction on a monitor in another room and doesn’t hold back her comments, most of which criticize Lisa.
Sonja reveals to Sara that she listened to her conversation with Lisa. She accuses Lisa of painting her as a villain and attacking Sara. Sara stands up to her mother and suggests that everyone needs to make changes, not only Lisa, and that her mother should treat all her children the same. Sonja maintains that putting up the fence was her best defense.
Dr. Phil has his first visit with the family and is fed up that none of them are getting to the core of the problem. He asks Sonja if the fence has solved her problems, and plays a video showing how obsessed the family is with the fence. Sonja is still convinced the fence was a good idea. Dr. Phil questions the family’s eagerness to work out their problems and tells them they are the least insightful and least motivated family he’s worked with.
Lisa’s 16-year-old daughter, Jessica, makes a surprise visit and erupts in tears as she expresses to her grandmother how she misses their relationship and how hurt she is that she is not listed in the will. Sonja shows no emotion toward her granddaughter and brings the conversation back to the will. Tears well in Sonja’s eyes when Dr. Phil tells her she’s a right-fighter and is going to die a lonely woman. She gets up and gives her granddaughter a hug.
Dr. Phil concludes his visit by dumping a wheelbarrow full of dirt in the living room and says, “Make a choice: you can have your family, or you can fight over dirt.”