Are You Ready for Divorce: Kids

Children Caught in the Middle?

Dr. Phil asks the couple another one of his key questions: "Are you ready to adopt a new standard of conduct with your children?" Jan says yes.

Randy says no. He explains, "I'm not ready to become a single father and to treat them like I'm the part-time father, I'm the father on the weekends."

Are their children caught in the middle? And, who's turning the kids against whom? Jan and Randy open up in previous interviews:

"Randy is a very intimidating person. He makes parenting decisions without me," Jan says. "Randy makes the kids feel inadequate. He yells a lot. He calls my son, who as ADHD, stupid. My daughter, Laci, doesn't like to be around Randy. They don't really have a relationship. She acknowledges that Randy is her dad, but that's about it. Randy embarrasses the kids in front of their friends. A lot of them are afraid of him. I can't stand the way he treats my kids. He makes the kids miserable."

"She undermines my authority with the kids," Randy says. "I think Jan lets them get away with a lot more than they should. She's more concerned about losing her relationship with them than actually teaching them how to act and behave. Jan tells me that I'm mean to the kids. Unless somebody can prove me wrong, I haven't been that mean. Jan sleeps in the room with the kids. I do know the kids need their mom, but there are times I know she's doing it to avoid me. It's painful.

[AD]"Jan badmouths me all the time to the kids. I was driving down the road with them one day, and Bradin looks at me and asks, ‘Dad, did you really have two affairs on Mom?' And I said, ‘Yeah, I did, Bud.' And I explained it to him the best I could to a kid. And when I got home, I asked Jan, ‘Why would you tell your kids that?' And her response was, ‘Randy, your kids think you're a god. I had to tell them how you really are.'"

"Randy tries to make the kids feel sorry for him by playing the victim," Jan says. "He tries to put the kids against me. Randy tells our 11-year-old about all of our problems. He will tell my son that I don't love him. He uses Bradin as his personal counselor, and that's just too much weight for a little kid to handle."

"I want to elaborate on something Jan had mentioned," Randy says to Dr. Phil. He explains that their two older kids left home at 18 and 19, and the house rules he enforced were to help with yard work on Saturdays and not to bring friends home after midnight. "This was not abusive. This was a father trying to raise his children. Yes, there were times when I was mean to them. Jan is very sensitive in how I raise these kids, and Jan has told me many times, ‘My father raised me that way. I'm not going to raise my kids to hate work. They can do what they want. My father made me do the chores. I'm not going to make them do chores.' We do have a big mix up on how we raise them, but my intentions are very [good]," he says.

Dr. Phil says he's concerned about how they're involving their children in their marital problems. "Are you guys using these kids as sounding boards?" he asks.

"Randy does. Because we separated about six to eight months ago, and he wanted me to leave the house, and I just flat out said no. I don't have anywhere to go. I have no family. I have no friends. I have nowhere to go. Through this whole thing, he left, and he uses Bradin as his counselor. He would cry, he would tell him how he was feeling inside. That's too much emotion," Jan says.

[AD]"When it first happened, I did talk to Bradin a lot, as did Jan. Yeah, I'm guilty of doing that, but I don't anymore," Randy says.

Dr. Phil tells Jan she does the same with their 18-year-old daughter. "You don't involve children in adult issues," he says. Jan argues that Laci is 18, and Dr. Phil asks, "Is it wrong to involve her in y'all's marital discourse?"

"Yeah," Jan admits.

 

They explain a big fight that occurred in front of the kids.

"So, she has absolutely no reason to be critical of you at all?" Dr. Phil asks Randy.

"The only reason we are, at this point, even getting help, I feel, is because of me. I'm the one who approached Jan," he says. "I found out through a neighbor that I was having this affair that I did not have. This night that we are talking about, any father would've done what I did. You should've heard what I heard about [Laci's] boyfriend. I asked him to leave. Jan said, ‘No, you leave.' That's why I started yelling what I heard."

Jan and Randy's 11-year-old twins have a message for their parents.

 

Dr. Phil asks Randy to elaborate on what he thinks he's done wrong.

"I've had the affairs, I've yelled at the children. I've not abused my kids. OK, yelling is a form " Jan yells too," he says.

"This isn't about her right now. Every time I try to ask you a question, you give me a short response followed by a ‘but' and a long justification," Dr. Phil says. "If you have any hope of turning this around, you're going to have to drop ‘but' from your vocabulary. You're going to have to stop deflecting everything on somebody else."

[AD]Eighteen-year-old Laci is sitting in the audience. Dr. Phil turns to her and says, "I think you've earned the right to say what you think in this situation. What did you want to say?"

"I want to live in a house where there's no tension anymore," she says. "There's just always fighting between these guys or the rest of the family, and I'm just done with the tension. I'm old enough to understand what's going on, but my little brothers, they just don't know what to do. They don't know how to react." She fights back her tears. "Growing up, I've always been afraid of marriage because this is what I thought it's like."

"See, and that just kills me," Jan says. "I've hurt my kids. It just breaks my heart. I don't want to live like this anymore, because I know there's hell around the corner. As soon as my boys turn teens, my house [will be] a nightmare, and I can't do it anymore. I won't do it anymore."

"Laci, you said you cry in your room at night because you feel responsibility to help your mother leave your father. Tell me about that," Dr. Phil says.

"I think about it every day, like, when they do get separated, I know I'm going to have to help my mom, and I'm going to have to help her provide for my little brothers. If we move out together, I'm willing to pay the house payments, whatever I need to do, get another job," Laci says tearfully.

"Do you trust your father's sentiments here, that he wants to do the right thing?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I don't know. He just needs to take the blame sometimes, that he is in the wrong," she says.

Randy responds, "There's a lot more to this situation than what's being brought up. What do you do? There's so much frustration that my frustration turns to anger."

"That doesn't make it OK," Dr. Phil says. "We can talk about every detail in the world but if you're so right, how can all of this be going so wrong? You can't change what you don't acknowledge. That's what I'm trying to get across to the both of y'all."

[AD]He turns to their daughter. "Laci, you are an impressive young woman. I hope that maturity has not come at the cost of robbing you of your childhood, and the freedom that comes from being the age you are, because you'll only be there once. I'm really going to try to help your parents here, and I'd like to take some of that burden from you because at 18, you don't need to be figuring out how to make your mother's house payment. They're going to take you out of the middle if it kills me."