Tear Down the Wall and Bond with Your Child

When Veronica was four months pregnant, she found out that her then-husband was still married to another woman. Her daughter, Lily, is now 4, and Veronica hasn't been able to bond with her because she reminds Veronica too much of her lying ex-husband. Veronica has even considered placing Lily for adoption. Dr. Phil offers her this advice for breaking down the wall and bonding with her daughter:

Live in the present.
Part of growing up, part of being mature, is that you realize: the past is over, the future hasn't happened yet, the only time is right now. You might've made different choices then, but you didn't. Dr. Phil tells Veronica, "You were suckered. You were lied to. You were conned. You were victimized. It isn't right, it isn't fair. There's no question about that." But that was then, this is now. It's time to face the present and change the way you do things so that the future will be better.

Stop being a victim. The only way to make change is to accept what has happened and take responsibility. Climb down off of the pedestal, the victim perch that you're on. Veronica is caught up in being the victim by saying, "I was lied to. I was cheated. I was conned by this person and I never would have done that, and you are evidence that that was done to me." She is blaming her daughter for keeping her in this mindset. "You got lied to, and you need to get over that," Dr. Phil tells her.

Don't misdirect your anger toward your child. Veronica needs to stop seeing her daughter as evidence that she was suckered. "You're displacing this to an innocent child because she can't take up for herself, she can't defend herself. You're doing it because you don't have the courage to look at yourself and say, 'I screwed up. I didn't see what I should've seen. I didn't ask the questions,'" Dr. Phil tells her. She needs to accept that this was not her daughter's fault, and decide to give up her anger and take an active role in changing.

Get over the anger. "Are you going to be a bitter, cold, denying, rejecting mother for the rest of your life because of something that happened five years ago?" Dr. Phil asks Veronica. "Is this a life sentence that you and Lily will serve?" He makes clear that Veronica must make the decision to release the anger and move forward. "The only way you can ever get out of the bitterness and the anger is you've got to give it up. Choose to not live in this prison where the bars are made of anger and bitterness and resentment." This is a prison where the door locks from the inside. There's no knob for anyone else to let you out. "To get out of that prison of bitterness, and pain, and anger and hurt, you have to open it from the inside." Tell yourself: "I have the ability, the free will, as a thinking, feeling, intelligent woman, to choose to give that anger up."

Forgive yourself. "You have got to give up the anger and you have got to forgive yourself first, for not being all seeing, all knowing and recognizing what was going on. You're so mad at yourself, you're so disappointed in yourself, that you're just stuck," Dr. Phil explains. Veronica must realize that she did the best she could with what she had at the time, and it is OK to forgive herself. Forgiveness doesn't mean that what has happened is OK. Forgiveness is a choice; a choice you need to make every day. "It's not a feeling, it's not an emotion. You don't sit and wait for it. You go get it. You go get forgiveness." People make mistakes, and this is a mistake Veronica has made. She must accept the mistake, forgive herself and move forward.

Challenge your internal dialogue. Write down the things you say to yourself. If you say, "I see him in her, and I hate that," you have to challenge these thoughts. This is faulty thinking. "What you should see in her is you. What you should see in her is your wonderful spirit." Require more of yourself and make a conscious decision to give up your negative thoughts and your anger. Affirm your new, positive dialogue every day, and soon it will be the only dialogue in your head.

Don't withdraw or isolate yourself. Talk about your feelings. You cannot isolate and withdraw when dealing with these emotions. Talk with family members or seek professional help. It is important to express your thoughts and get help so that you can move forward from what you are feeling. Have courage to open up and let someone in who can help you handle your emotions.

Trust in the way things have turned out. "I believe that people have the children they are supposed to have," Dr. Phil tells Veronica. "You are supposed to be her mother. She is supposed to be your daughter. That is the natural order. You were given the gift of this child. You must be a good steward of that gift." Show your child love, support, care and encouragement so that he or she has the best chance of succeeding in the world.

Behave your way to success. Now that Veronica has had another child with her new husband, she cannot play favorites. Do the same activities with all of your children, don't isolate one from the others. Get down on the floor and play with them, read with them, sing to them and rub their backs. Create interest with your child. Make an investment of time, effort, energy and emotion. "Walk out of your history and walk into your life," Dr. Phil advises.

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