House on Fire: A Family Divided

March 22, 2013
Suzanne says her sister, Jennifer, is a neglectful parent, and she's considering taking action to gain custody of Jennifer's three children. Suzanne says when the family's home caught fire, Jennifer saved her daughter's friend's baby and left her own children to fend for themselves. Jennifer's 16-year-old daughter, Alyssa, suffered a broken ankle after jumping from the second story, and her 12-year-old son ran back into the burning house to save his 9-year-old sister. Jennifer maintains she is a good mom, and says there was too much smoke and fire to go back for her kids. Was there more she could have done? Is there truth behind Suzanne's accusations? Then, hear Alyssa's emotional plea to Jennifer. Will it make an impact?







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Jennifer's houseSuzanneJenniferAlyssaTori

Suzanne explains why she’s so critical of her sister and why Jennifer’s recent house fire pushed her over the edge.

“I ran back in; and I woke my husband up, grabbed my granddaughter, and we ran out the door.”

Suzanne says when Alyssa was in the hospital, about to get surgery on her ankle, Jennifer left, leaving Alyssa alone, which is another example of Jennifer not putting her kids first. Jennifer says she doesn’t remember leaving, but Dr. Phil’s not buying it. “This happened four weeks ago. Mothers don’t forget what happened. If a child is injured, and a mother is there, she can hear the hair growing on their leg. She remembers everything about what is going on. You can’t tell me you don’t remember that, which makes me think you’re trying to hide something because you’re not proud of it.”

Jennifer says that after the fire, she had to split up the living arrangements. She took Alyssa's former best friend, Tori, 17, and her daughter, Bella, to live with her, and sent her kids to live with her mother. Suzanne says it’s another example of her sister choosing other people over her own children. She says she sees Alyssa crying daily because she wants to spend time with her mother.


Alyssa recalls the night of the fire. And, Dr. Phil questions Jennifer about the other people living in her home.

Is Jennifer replacing Alyssa with Tori?

 

"I don't have a home anymore, Mom!"


Dr. Phil tells Jennifer she has too much on her plate, and her own family is suffering because of it. He urges her to realign her priorities.

Suzanne adds, “My sister, Jennifer, needs to step up and be the mom, or I am going to take her kids.” She says she’s also concerned about how Jennifer is parenting her youngest daughter, claiming Jennifer calls her “sexy” and allows her to wear inappropriate clothing and behave provocatively. Jennifer denies the accusation.

Dr. Phil draws a diagram to illustrate how Jennifer is spreading herself too thin. 

Dr. Phil tells Jennifer, “You’re making bad decisions, Jennifer. You’re falling behind with this family. It’s falling apart. Something has to happen.” He offers her professional resources to help get her family back on track, and she accepts.

When Dr. Phil learns that Alyssa lost her hearing aids in the fire, he surprises her with new Oticon hearing aids, courtesy of Dr. Leiterman and SoCal Hearing and Balance.