Elizabeth and her husband, Bob, claim Elizabeth’s 20-year-old daughter, Ali, is a “spoiled brat,” who refuses to go to college or get a job, has trashed their house and also steals from them. Dr. Phil has some tough questions for Ali about her behavior — and for the parents, who admit they have enabled their daughter. Can Ali learn to stand on her own two feet?
“My daughter, Ali, is spoiled and a moocher and disrespectful,” Elizabeth says. She says that Ali refuses to go college or get a job and has completely trashed her room, which is cluttered with dirty clothes and dishes. Elizabeth also claims that Ali steals clothes and money from her and says she recently even took a $2,000 diamond necklace, which Ali admits she pawned for $15 to buy gas and cigarettes.
Elizabeth’s husband, Bob, says, “On average, my wife and I give Ali $10 or $20 every couple of days. Ali will spend the money on cigarettes, clothes or fast food. Ali has gained 100 pounds in the past two years.”
Ali insists that she thinks it’s “unfair” for her mother to expect her to clean her room and admits, “I usually just throw the trash on the floor. I’m just too lazy to clean it up.” She says that she refuses to help out with household chores, like doing the dishes, which makes her mother angry. “I honestly feel like I don’t contribute anything to my house,” Ali says. “I just don’t want to, I guess.”
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Bob and Elizabeth admit that they have trouble with disciplining Ali — and making the punishments stick. They say Ali has been in six car accidents, and totaled one vehicle, but they continue to let her drive. “Even though Ali has been irresponsible with cars, I still try to give her the benefit of the doubt,” Elizabeth says. “We’ve taken her car away three times for a day or two. She just comes up with reasons why she needs it back, and a lot of times, it’s more convenient for her to have the car.”
Onstage, Dr. Phil says to Ali, “You know what fascinates me about you? It’s how you’re pulling this off. I’m impressed that you could take two intelligent, functioning people, and you somehow have mesmerized them into thinking that what y’all are doing is OK. Tell us your secret.”
“I guess I just throw a fit, and then they give up,” Ali says.
“She has a way of making us feel bad for her, sorry for her, so we cave,” Elizabeth says.
“You’re clearly parenting from guilt. What are y’all so guilty about?”
Elizabeth and Bob say Ali has been diagnosed with multiple disorders — including bipolar disorder, depression, intermittent explosive disorder, PTSD and OCD — and has been on medications since age 7 to control her emotional and anger issues. “Sometimes I make excuses for Ali, but I also feel like she really has a mental deficit,” Elizabeth says. “She doesn’t know how to process it in her brain to clean her room.” Elizabeth also claims that it’s hard for Ali to hold a job, because she “can’t cope with negative feedback.”
Bob echoes, “I think Ali doesn’t make a mess on purpose. She just can’t see the mess, because her brain is moving very quickly.” He also insists, “Ali does want to make good decisions, but she is influenced by her friends.” Bob admits that he and Elizabeth let Ali do whatever she wants, including smoke cigarettes and eat junk food. “When we give Ali what she wants, that does make me feel better,” he says.
“Did I hear that right? Did I hear you say, ‘She can’t see the mess?'”
Dr. Phil reviews Ali’s questionable behaviors, including having unprotected sex. “I think if I had a kid, I’d wake up a little bit,” she says.
Dr. Phil also mentions that Ali dropped out of high school when she was a sophomore, and Elizabeth explains, “She wouldn’t go, and every day was a constant fight. Every day was the school calling me with drama.” She says they tried homeschooling Ali for a while but, “That didn’t work out well.” Looking at the list of Ali’s behaviors, Elizabeth concedes, “It’s really a wake-up call. We should have seen it before, but we didn’t.”
Elizabeth and Bob claim Ali hangs out with a bad crowd and repeatedly makes poor decisions. They say last year, their greatest fear became a reality, when Ali told them that she was sexually assaulted at a party. “Ali said that someone pushed her down, pulled her pants down and raped her in a driveway,” Elizabeth recalls.
Ali remembers that after a night of drinking at the party, she woke up on the lawn with her clothing disheveled. “I thought, ‘What just happened? Was I raped?'” she recalls. Ali says she called her boyfriend at the time, who told her to contact the police, and then went to the hospital, where her parents met her. Ali continues, “I told my parents a man pushed me down. I kind of lied about it, but I only think I lied about it because it was kind of a heat of the moment type thing.” She claims, “My mom made me feel like it was my fault I got raped at the party.”
Elizabeth says, “I think Ali got raped because she puts herself in dangerous situations.”
“What’s the truth? … I take rape allegations very seriously, and I take the need for specialized care after being violated in that way very seriously.”
Ali claims that any time she shows any emotion, her mother’s solution is just to tell her to take some more medication. “My mom thinks just because I have an attitude or I’m crying, I need to go take my pills,” Ali says. “She thinks I always need to take my medicine, even if I’ve already taken it for the day.”
“I don’t say, ‘Go take pills,’ Elizabeth insists. “I say, ‘Have you taken your medicine?’ I will ask her that because when she doesn’t take her medicine, her speech patterns change, her behavior changes, she gets hostile. She gets extremely agitated by everything.”
Dr. Phil says, “I went through all of your interviews, and there are a lot of diagnoses being thrown around … We have diagnostic criteria for these things. You don’t just decide you have it and go get some pills.”
“The psychiatrists have diagnosed her with it,” Elizabeth replies. “They’re the experts. If they say something’s wrong with her, and this is what she should take … ”
“Then you just do it?” Dr. Phil asks. “If an expert says something, then you just do it? I like this, because I’m getting ready to say some stuff.” Dr. Phil assures Elizabeth, “You came to the right place.” He turns to Ali and warns, “I am going to be your worst nightmare.”
Time for Tough Love
In a previously recorded interview, Elizabeth and Bob say they recently let Ali’s fiancé move in, rent free. “She pitched to us that if he was there, he would help her clean her room. She would get a job. She wouldn’t be so lonely in the daytime,” Elizabeth explains. “We thought maybe then she wouldn’t be driving around doing stupid stuff. But that hasn’t happened.”
Bob says, “Ali’s fiancé does not work, and he does not give us any money to live there. The rules we established when he moved in were that Ali had to keep her room clean, do the dishes — and that’s pretty much it.”
Onstage, Dr. Phil says to the parents, “Are y’all jacking with me?” He turns to Elizabeth and adds, “He’s living in that room with her, and [you have said] you don’t worry about her getting pregnant, because she’s overweight.”
“That was dumb on my part,” Elizabeth admits.
Dr. Phil drills down on the parents: “What do you think they’re doing back there? They’re not cleaning up the room!”
“She has absolutely no respect for you … She needs to learn that the free ride is over.”
Dr. Phil tells Elizabeth and Bob, “You should kick the fiancé out of the house before dark. Period.” He also offers to make a life coach available to help Ali put together a 30-day transition plan for getting out on her own. “If she remains in your house for even this transition period, then she has to do what she has to do, or you take her to a shelter,” Dr. Phil tells the parents. “If she doesn’t do that, then you change the locks. I will call you a locksmith.” He asks, “Do I have your commitment on that?”
Bob and Elizabeth both agree.