Karlyn says her family has been estranged for more than a decade after she and her brothers sided with their father in the divorce. Can they stop pointing fingers, put the past behind them and rebuild their fractured family?

Choosing Sides

Karlyn, the oldest, says her family was close, until her mother, Jodi, divorced her father — and kicked her and her brothers, Blake and Jordan, out of the house, after she says they sided with their dad. Although Jodi lives only five miles away, Karlyn says she has not seen her mother in more than 12 years.

More than 16 million kids in the United States are at risk for hunger each day. Fortunately, you can help. Visit Feeding America to find your local food bank. And, help Dr. Phil raise enough money for 10 million meals. Donate today!

“I don’t understand how a mom can do that to her kids.”

Elyssia, the youngest, sided with their mother in the divorce. Who does she blame for the estrangement?

Jodi says she feels that Karlyn, Blake and Jordan all abandoned her.

Dr. Phil asks the family, do they want to resolve the estrangement or do they want to be right? “I’ve never seen such a bunch of sanctimonious, self-righteous right-fighters in my life,” he says. “Why have you been fighting for 12 years to be right?”

Karlyn says she wants to know how a mom could abandon three out of her four children. Dr. Phil admonishes her for wanting to indict her mother, which is not helpful. Karlyn says she wants to know if the family is fixable. Dr. Phil says, “It’s fixable if you are. If you decide you’re tired of being right and want to be happy.”

Dr. Phil points out to Jodi that when asked to describe her two daughters, she used terms like “shining star,” “happy,” “accomplished,” and “pleasant” for Elyssia, but for Karlyn, she said, “selfish,” “self-centered,” “princess” and “bossy.”

Jodi admits that Karlyn was like that as a child but she doesn’t know her as an adult. “It’s very sad,” she says.

Dr. Phil notes that when the divorce came about, the three older children were shocked by Jodi's emergency protective order. “Children don't always know what happens between a husband and wife, so it's hard for them to make informed decisions,” he tells Karlyn. He points out that their parents may have been protecting them from seeing their troubles, so for them to pass judgment on their mother for her decision is unfair.

Dr. Phil also says it was unfair to have the children testify in court, making them choose sides. He tells Jodi, “Adults should not drag children into adult issues … It’s difficult enough for children to watch their family fragment without putting them into the battle zone and have them make decisions where they feel like, ‘If I side with one, I’m betraying the other.’ And it’s interesting that the one you seem to be happiest with is, coincidentally, the one who supported you.”

“You can divorce your spouse,” Karlyn says. “You don't divorce your kids, and I felt like she divorced all of us.”

The Boys’ Perspective

In a previous interview, Jodi's oldest son, Blake, says, “I was most upset about my mother making false allegations against my dad about physical abuse and emotional abuse. There was never any physical abuse at all. I went with my brother to the house to try to talk to my mother about the situation. She didn’t want to speak with us and told us to get off the property, or she was going to call the cops on us. My mother never tried to even explain anything at all. She had kicked us out of the house. I was completely lost, emotionally hurt. I had noticed a major change in my mom, to where she didn't seem like the person who helped raise us. She was different. She just seemed like an evil person. I've only spoken to my mother maybe twice in the last 12 years. My mother is a person who I no longer know.”

Blake, sitting in the audience, tells Dr. Phil that he just wants answers. He says after the divorce, all the kids stayed close initially, so Elyssia could’ve given their phone numbers to their mother.

Elyssia argues that her older siblings told her they didn’t want her to give Jodi their contact information. Blake disagrees.
In a previous interview, Jodi’s youngest son, Jordan, says he used to be close to Elyssia, but he stopped communicating with her when she refused to go to Blake’s wedding. “I can't comprehend how you don't go to your own brother's wedding,” he says. He claims that she’s called her siblings “trash” and considers herself to be an only child. “For her to disown the rest of us, it’s a slap in the face,” Jordan says.

Elyssia argues that she never called her siblings "trash."

Uniting the Family

Dr. Phil interrupts the bickering. “There is nothing you're going to say that is going to convince me that you, as a mother, are justified in not being a leader in this family and bringing everybody back together.”

Dr. Phil highlights all that Jodi has missed in her children’s lives. Will it make an impact?

Dr. Phil loses his patience with Karlyn. “My dad used to tell me, 'Boy, don't ever miss a good chance to shut up.'”

Will the family agree to put aside their resentments and start over? “Every situation needs a hero.”