A Family Divided Part 6: Katherine's Letter

A Family Divided Part 6: Katherine's Letter
Dr. Phil continues his work with a family in crisis.
Thirteen-year-old Katherine is becoming increasingly unhappy at home, and her behavior is reflecting it.

"You're arguing, you're yelling, you're upset ... what's going on with you?" Dr. Phil asks Katherine.

"I have mixed feelings right now toward my mom, my dad and my sister," she says. "I'm just frustrated that [my mom] never understands me at all. She never gets what I'm saying."

"Whenever I see people yelling and screaming, I believe it's a cover-up for hurt or fear or frustration," Dr. Phil says.


Fed up with things at home, Katherine sends Dr. Phil a desperate letter:

Dear Dr. Phil,

There is a lot going on in my house. I have put a lot of thought into the decision ... I have it all planed [sic] out, every detail. I am just scared if I tell my mom and dad they will get angry and say "no." Dr. Phil, I want to be given up for adoption ... I would give up anything for my parents to give me up ... I already know a family that would adopt me or one I could stay with until I find a permanit [sic] one. Dr. Phil please help me. I just want a family that will not tell me i'm [sic] stupid, or I hate you, or it's all your falt [sic], I don't want to fall asleep crying, or listening to yelling. I want this more than I want anything.



After a brief discussion with Dr. Phil, Katherine eventually agrees to tell Erin and Martin about her letter.

"Mom and Dad, I want to be given up for adoption," says Katherine tearfully. "I just want to live in a normal family."

"Martin, how do you feel about this letter and her request?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Wow. It's truly a shock," he answers. "At this point I'm really speechless."

"Katherine has actually said this several times before, especially when things haven't gone the way she wanted things to go, so I'm not surprised," Erin replies. "I understand that's she's frustrated and unhappy. I'm really sorry, and I'm hurt, and I'm sad to hear that that's what she wants to do."

Dr. Phil gives the family his advice.

"I think that people's recognition of a problem and their complaints may be completely legitimate, but their considered remedies are not at all legitimate," Dr. Phil says.

Dr. Phil says that Katherine's complaints about the "toxic nature" of this family are valid. But he tells Katherine that she has to "earn her way out of this," that she too has to take responsibility for her actions.

Katherine acknowledges that she has been contributing to the tension at home.

He then tells Martin, Erin and Katherine that he is going to send his son Jay, author of Closing the Gap — A Strategy for Bringing Parents and Teens Together, to their home to help work things out.