Amy says she’s a “psycho, over-protective mom” of five children, ages 4 to 20, and worries that her behavior could be crippling her kids’ development. She admits to flossing her 20-year-old daughter's teeth, trimming her 15-year-old's toenails and doing her children's homework for them. Amy says she’s just trying to prevent her kids from being hurt or disappointed — but is she really just setting them up for failure? Amy’s son, Robert, 15, says he’s suffering in school because his mom won’t let him do his own homework, and he doesn’t even know what he’s good at, because she does everything for him. Can Amy learn to take a step back and allow her kids to become independent?
“I’m Definitely a Helicopter Mom”
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Amy explains how hard she works to ensure her kids are safe and protected.
Robert pleads with his mother to stop doing his homework. “If you do it, it’s your grade, not my grade.”
Failing Her Children?
Dr. Phil points out that Amy’s need to control is for her benefit, not her children’s, and is, in fact, very selfish.
Amy’s 20-year-old pregnant daughter, Katelynn, says her mom has threatened to gain custody of her unborn baby, to ensure the child is taken care of properly. “I love my mom, but she needs better parenting skills,” she says.
Dr. Phil tells Amy she’s a well-intended parent, but she’s terribly misguided.
Dr. Phil explains why parents need to prepare their children for the real world. “You are raising lambs for the slaughter.”
Why did Katelynn run away at 14?
Amy says her kids aren’t allowed to attend a college in another town. She says they can go to a community college, but they have to live at home with her.
“Kids grow up and leave. You will become an empty-nester,” Dr. Phil tells Amy, adding that after he and Robin dropped their oldest son, Jay, off at college, Robin cried for about two weeks. Still, he says they both felt confident that they had prepared him for life on his own.
Find out why Amy’s parenting style may be influenced by her own childhood.
The Lie Amy Tells Herself and the Truth She Fails to See
Dr. Phil says that everyone has a “Why Lie” — a lie we tell ourselves to make what we do acceptable. He reads what he believes to be Amy’s Why Lie: “As a mother, I am, because of my painful life experiences, alerted and called to a mission to stand in the gap to protect my children from a world that I know can be cruel, mean and hurtful. I will not stand by and allow what happened to me as a child and what happened to my innocent goddaughter be my children’s reality. I will do for them what was not done for me. It is right. It is needed. It is my duty. It is why I am in this world.”
Amy agrees that she lives by that creed.
Dr. Phil tells Amy the truth she won't face: "I somehow believe that if I can keep them safe and protected, the scared little girl that still resides within me will at last feel safe and protected."
“Amy, I’m really sorry about what happened to you,” Dr. Phil tells her. He explains that Amy’s emotional development was arrested when she was abused in her childhood, and it’s time to heal the little girl inside of her. He offers her specialized professional help for survivors of abuse. After she works on healing herself, he says she can then work on healing her family by helping her kids learn to stand on their own feet and build their confidence.
Dr. Phil warns parents that success-only parenting doesn’t work. “If you never let [your children] face adversity, when they do, they’re likely to not know how to adapt. Don’t spoil your kids to the point where they never get knocked down. You’ll be sorry if you do,” he says.