Ray and Deena say that three years ago, after Deena had an affair and they divorced, their 16-year-old daughter, Summer, went from a straight-A student to a violent and out-of-control teen. The parents say that Summer shoplifts, uses drugs, gets into physical fights with friends and family, dresses provocatively and lies about her age to date much older men. They also claim that she has run away from home at least 15 times — including a month-long ordeal in Las Vegas, when they say Summer lived on the streets, abused drugs and panhandled for money. How does Summer explain her behavior? Hear why she says she had no choice but to run away to Vegas — with a near-stranger. And, how do Ray and Deena respond? Has the contention between them compromised their ability to parent Summer? Dr. Phil weighs in and offers the fractured family advice for moving forward. Will the parents be willing to come together to get Summer back on track?
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“We missed the mark when it comes to raising a child.”
Dr. Phil has some hard questions for Ray and Deena.
Dr. Phil tells the parents that he has no doubt that they love their daughter, but based on results, they didn’t provide a stable environment for her. “I’m not asking myself why this child’s making bad choices; I’m asking myself why not?” he says.
In a previous interview, Summer says she was always pulled into adult situations with her parents. “My mom put me in the middle of their sexual intimacy, and she would tell me how my dad would rape her, and I don’t know what in her mind can make her think that she can tell a kid that,” she says.
Ray explains that when he found out his wife was having an affair, they got into a physical fight. “She tried to beat me up. I made a police report, and they charged her with domestic violence. I obtained a restraining order,” he says.
“My anger at my dad happened when he kicked my mom out of the house. My mom didn’t choose to move. He literally threw her stuff out,” Summer says.
Troubled History with Violence
When Summer joins her parents onstage, Dr. Phil reviews her turbulent history, which includes suspension from school, being reported as a missing person, and charges of shoplifting, possession of Xanax, petty theft and battery.
“I act out with violence because that’s all I’ve been shown my whole life,” Summer says.
Summer explains a “vicious” fight with her father that landed them both in jail. And, Dr. Phil reviews Summer’s experience with drugs.
Ray denies being physically abusive with his daughter. “I withhold her from leaving the house. I’m merely trying to keep her under control,” he says.
“She says you’ve hit her,” Dr. Phil says.
“No,” he says.
Dr. Phil asks Ray if he’s thrown Deena on the ground and hit her, and he says no.
Deena says the incident happened when her son was 5, and it made the boy cry. “You have an anger problem,” Deena says to her ex. Deena admits she’s gotten into physical altercations with Summer, but says she never dislocated her shoulder, as Summer claims.
“Have you told her that Ray rapes you?” Dr. Phil asks Deena.
“Yes,” she says.
“Have you shared graphic details with her about your sex life?”
“Not graphic, no,” she says.
Find out why Summer says running away to Vegas with a boy she’d only known four days was the worst mistake of her life. And, she and her father clash onstage.
Sexy Too Soon?
In a previous interview, Ray and Deena express concern that Summer dresses too risqué and attracts older men, whom they say she lies to about her real age.
Summer says she’s used to getting attention for her looks everywhere she goes. “I actually like the attention, because my parents never gave me attention. My mom never complimented me, my dad never complimented me when I was a kid, so I pretty much look for it in other people,” she says. “I started dating when I was in third grade.”
“I feel like Summer is not making good choices with men because she doesn’t have a good male role model,” Deena says.
“I lost my virginity at 13,” Summer says. “I was drunk at a Halloween party, and I don’t even really remember.”
Back onstage, Dr. Phil asks the teen what she wants for her life. She says she wants to go to college for cosmetology or become a social worker who helps abused children. Dr. Phil asks if the choices she’s making now will help her get on the right path. Summer says she’s now making positive changes in her life, including going back to school and moving in with her mother.
Deena isn’t so sure. She points out that Summer is obsessed with her 22-year-old boyfriend — who is in jail — and often talks about having his baby. She says Summer also brags to her about older men she meets online. “We have to do something here. She’s out of control,” Deena says.
Dr. Phil excuses Summer so he can speak with her parents alone.
“Let me just say a few things: I didn’t just come in on a load of turnips.”
Dr. Phil tells Summer’s parents that the most powerful role model in any child’s life is the same sex parent. He tells Deena, “That would be you. You have a lot of ownership here. You’ve over-shared with her. That’s inappropriate.”
Dr. Phil explains to Ray how his relationship with Summer shaped her. “It’s about a father who teaches a daughter to value herself.”
Dr. Phil tells Ray and Deena that they are in over their head with parenting Summer, and he believes that Summer shouldn’t be living with either of them. He recommends that Summer get specific treatment at the Center for Discovery, a residential treatment center for women and teens.
Dr. Rachel Wood, from the Center for Discovery, tells Ray and Deena that their facility is a highly structured, nurturing environment designed for the troubles their family is facing.
Dr. Phil tells the former couple that they also have work to do while Summer is gone — to figure out how to be parents, how to co-parent with each other and be in a healthy place for her return.
Dr. Phil explains that they can offer the program to Summer, but if she isn’t willing to go, this will be their first parenting test. “It is your job to get her there. If that requires a transporter, that’s fine, but you two have to come together, stand your ground and make this happen,” he says.
Ray and Deena agree and accept the help.