A Family Divided: Concerns for Katherine: Katherine's Grades

Defending Her Decisions
Dr. Phil talks with Katherine about her recent troubles with her ex-boyfriend and troubles at school.
Dr. Phil is also concerned because Katherine's grades are dropping, and she doesn't seemed to be concerned about her school work.

He asks her what her most recent grades are. Katherine says, "A, C, C, D, D, F."

"What did you think about that?" Dr. Phil asks Marty and Erin.

Marty gives as look of disapproval as Erin says, "I think it's pretty pathetic. I think that's a really bad report card. She's just not doing the work."

Dr. Phil warns Katherine, "I can tell you that things get a momentum in one direction or another, and if grades start sliding, this doesn't predict good things in your future."


"These have been ongoing battles and we've been able to manage them somewhat up until this point," Erin tells Dr. Phil. "It seems like in the last month or two, she's exploded. There's just been a plethora of new issues coming up, and I don't know what to do."

"That is so wrong in my view," Dr. Phil says to Erin and Marty. "It's not like she's been fine, we've managed this until now, and then all of a sudden it explodes!"

Dr. Phil continues, "Children learn what they live. You guys have been unengaged here. I've watched over the months with the blatant disrespect, the disregard. So you teach people how to treat you."

Dr. Phil warns Erin and Marty that Katherine is on her way to being sexually active if they do not step in and make her change her behavior. He says, "It is a very, very short step from thought to word, from word to deed, from deed to consequences that you cannot undo ... She's not just thinking about it, she's writing it down and communicating it and putting it out there with someone else."


Katherine explains, "I've done that. I'm not with this boy anymore. I have a tutor."

Dr. Phil tells her, "It's not about the boy, it's about you and the judgments that you're making. Do you acknowledge that you have made those bad judgments? That you are in over your head? That you have a know-it-all attitude and are behaving like you're just out playing grown-up? ... Important questions, because you cannot change what you do not acknowledge."

Katherine explains, "I'm not like that person. I don't sit there all day and tell boys that."

Dr. Phil explains to Marty and Erin, "One of the myths that kids deal with, is that when they do something wrong, when they make a bad decision, that they're typecast by their parents in that way forever. The reason that I want to deal with this now, is so Katherine has the opportunity to demonstrate change."


Dr. Phil wants to know what the family is going to do about Katherine's D average in school, because he knows that she can do better than that.

Defending herself in tears, Katherine says, "You don't think I have been trying harder in school? You don't think anything has changed in my life, that I am the same person? That's what you all are sitting here saying, is that I do this bad, this bad. You are not talking about anything that I do good."

"Katherine, I think we want to hold you accountable for some things that you're doing wrong and are continuing to do wrong," Erin explains.

"I know they're wrong and that's why I changed them."

"We just worry Katherine, that's why we're here."

"You don't have to worry ... I'm not going to change your mind. There's no point in even trying."

Dr. Phil tells Katherine, "It's not about changing my mind, it's about changing your life."


"All we're doing is sitting here saying all the bad things I've done. I just think that it's a total waste of my time," Katherine explains.

"What's of consequence to me is that you get to adulthood in tact, with your life in tact, your personality intact, your goals in tact and your future in tact," Dr. Phil tells her. "If you are making right choices now, what are they?"

"I have a tutor. For all of you to sit here and bash me on my grades, excuse me, I am doing well in school ... I'm not with this boy anymore, because I know it was a stupid decision that I made."

"You got a tutor because I got you a tutor," Dr. Phil tells her. "You didn't get a tutor because you said, 'I see the academic light. I need to get back on track.' I got you the tutor."

Dr. Phil explains to Erin and Marty that one of the most important things they need to do is have a conversation with Katherine, and talk about what is important in her life and what they will and will not support.

He says to Marty, "You've got to plug in in a big way, because this has to do with how she sees, relates to and interacts with boys."

"I believe that we should avoid confrontation with our children if there is any way we possibly can. But if you have one, do not ever lose. If that's the level at which she wants to engage you, she needs to find out what power and control is all about," Dr. Phil explains.

"Your job as a parent is to guide, protect and nurture. It's not to make her happy, it's not to be her friend. Sometimes the goal of parenting is simple containment ... Your job is to protect her, and sometimes that means from herself. And you can't put your feelings on the line while you're doing it."

Dr. Phil addresses Alex, who has been sitting in the audience during the show. He asks her to help Katherine and tells her, "This is a chance to use your life, and to create some meaning to some of the suffering that you've been through."

Alex tells Dr. Phil, "I love my sister very much and it scares me because the things she's done in seventh grade are things that I started to do in ninth grade. It scares me that she's going down that path, and I don't want her to ever have to experience anything that I have had to do."

Dr. Phil asks her to help Katherine. "You can sit down with her eyeball to eyeball and out of love and camaraderie, tell her what she needs to know," he suggests.

Alex explains that she has talked to Katherine a lot since she got in the fight. "I think she has realized that being that involved in a relationship at 13 years old is not something that needs to go on. She really has been trying hard in school. I try to be her friend and her sister at the same time, because I know that if I piss her off and she doesn't want to talk to me, then how is anyone else going to [talk to her]?"