Controversial Parenting

March 29, 2013
Should people be bothered by an image of a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son, such as on the cover of the May 21, 2012 issue of Time magazine? Dr. Phil and his guests discuss controversial parenting techniques that are raising eyebrows and serious debate.







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KathyDr. Jim Sears, pediatrician and one of the hosts of The DoctorsHara Estroff Marano, Editor at Large for Psychology Today MagazineHeather, Holly, ShawnJoannJoann's daughter, AngieLavanielLavaniel Jr., in the video his father posted online

Attachment Parenting: For or Against?

Kathy, an advocate of the Attachment Parenting philosophy, which promotes baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping, says she still breastfeeds her nearly 4-year-old son. Kathy jokingly calls cribs “cages,” and says both of her children share the bed with her and her husband.

“I will stop breastfeeding when he stops asking.”

Mothers who oppose Attachment Parenting weigh in. Heather says practicing Attachment Parenting with toddlers is a form of psychological abuse. Holly, whose mother practiced Attachment Parenting, says she spent years trying to make up for what she didn’t gain as a child through discipline, boundaries and separation. Shawn says breastfeeding a 4-year-old is “disgusting.”

Dr. Jim Sears, pediatrician and one of the hosts of the Emmy-award winning show The Doctors, says Attachment Parenting creates healthy, well-rounded children. Hara Estroff Marano, Editor at Large for Psychology Today Magazine and author of A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting, says Attachment Parenting is potentially harmful.

Dr. Jim and Hara weigh in. “Why do you have to wear your children?”

Dr. Jim adds that studies have shown that breastfed children have stronger immune systems and higher IQs. Dr. Phil poses the question: Since the immune system isn’t fully developed until a child is 6, does that mean you should breastfeed until the child is 6? Hara says no, you can also build an immune system by letting kids play in the dirt. 


Helicopter Granny Crossing the Line?

Self-professed helicopter grandmother Joann says there’s nothing she won’t do to check up on her children and grandchildren, including climbing over locked gates to break into her 39-year-old daughter, Angie’s, home. Will she agree to give her daughter some space?

Joann demonstrates how she breaks into her daughter’s house and what she does once inside.

“Not Dr. Phil nor any other quack is going to tell me how to love my family.”

Dr. Phil says he’d never just drop in on his sons without calling ahead of time. Joann says that’s just not how things were done at her mother’s house. If more people showed up, her mother would just fry more potatoes!

“There is absolutely nothing that I’m going to say to change any of that,” Dr. Phil notes.

“No way,” Joann says. “But I respect your opinion.”

“I can tell,” he quips.


Verbal Lashing on Video

Lavaniel posted a video on Facebook and YouTube of him verbally bashing his then 15-year-old son, Lavaniel Jr., for his wardrobe choice. Is Lavaniel a bully or a caring father?

“It looks like you stole a midget’s pants!”

The video sparked a debate online. Some people commented that they thought Laveniel should be nominated Father of the Year. Others thought he was verbally abusive to his son.

Lavaniel says he wasn’t abusing his son. If his child can’t follow his rules, "get out of my house." Hara adds that humiliation is not an ideal form of parenting. Lavaniel says it’s all about knowing your child. “If I thought my child would be affected mentally by it, then I would’ve gone another route,” he says.

Lavaniel Jr. explains the look he was going for. Was he embarrassed by his dad? Plus, Dr. Travis Stork gives a warning about skinny jeans.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to ever attempt to shape behavior based on public criticism, humiliation or whatever,” Dr. Phil says. He advises all parents to take a time out before posting a video like Lavaniel's online. He tells Lavaniel that he can tell he’s not a negligent or overly-harsh parent.