Ask Dr. Phil

Ask Dr. Phil
Dr. Phil answers viewer questions, from a fan who wonders if her celebrity obsession is normal, to a stay-at-home dad who asks how he can keep from losing his patience.
Marcile, Colton and Austin

Marcile says she has gone to extreme measures in an effort to get her teenage sons out of bed in the morning, from spraying water on them to blasting loud music, but nothing has worked. Worried that they may carry this bad habit into adulthood, she asks Dr. Phil for advice.
"I know what's wrong with them," Dr. Phil tells Marcile. "My question is, what's wrong with you?
Because the boys get up on time when Marcile's husband Mark asks them to, Dr. Phil tells her that he has determined this
problem is situation specific: "Why do they get up for him?" asks Dr. Phil.
"They're scared of him and they fear him because he's strict and there are consequences," says Marcile. "I've tried to be
strict but I probably give in."
"What you have to do if you really want to do right by them is make a deal," says Dr. Phil. "[Tell them] you get up on time.
And if you don't, there are going to be consequences. And the consequences are whatever it takes to get up on time. If your
son needs to get up at 6:20 a.m. on Monday and his feet aren't on the floor announcing, 'I'm up!' at 6:20 a.m., it will be
5:20 a.m. on Tuesday. And if he isn't up at 5:20 a.m. on Tuesday, it will be 4:20 a.m. on Wednesday. You may say, 'I don't want to have to get up at 4:20 a.m.!' Well, you know what? You won't have to for long."
Dr. Phil continues, "If I had to, I would start shaving their heads at 6:21 a.m. Life is all about motivation. And I guarantee you, if they hear that razor buzzing in their ear at 6:20 a.m., they will go vertical and that fog of sleepiness will clear up."
"Would you do it differently now that you've been a stay-at-home dad?" asks Dr. Phil. "If you go back to work, won't you
play the game differently because you understand the importance of [staying at home]?"
"Absolutely," says Al.
"Here's the tough question," says Dr. Phil, "When [your wife Maria] comes home from work, does she pitch in and help?"
"Absolutely," says Al.
"We've fine-tuned this," says Maria. "I can shorten my hours because I have my own business. I'm able to be more flexible so if I see he's really having a bad day, I can say I'm gonna [pitch in]." Maria also explains that to make things even easier, she has moved her office into their garage.
"I commend both of you on your flexibility," says Dr. Phil.


Michelle's friends and family say her admiration of celebrities has turned into an obsession. She is addicted to magazines, and idolizes Jennifer Aniston and Britney Spears — to the point that she cut and colored her hair to look like Jennifer and had her navel pierced after Britney did. "It is frustrating always looking at [celebrities] on TV or in magazines because I just can't measure up," says Michelle. "I know it's ridiculous for me to try to live up to these expectations. Dr. Phil, I admit it. I'm obsessed with celebrities. Is there anything wrong with that?"
"I think Michelle is living in a fantasy world," says Michelle's mother, Ardis. "These people you see in magazines or on TV are not perfect. I think it's taking away from her being focused on her future."
"There is a line that you can cross in which you say, 'My life is not OK or good enough. I reject myself and want to live vicariously through someone else," says Dr. Phil. "And if you live in this fantasy world in which you try to be and look like [a celebrity] ... then maybe you've decided you're not OK — that you've got to become some other person. And that's where it gets to be a problem."
Dr. Phil continues, "What you're doing is comparing your life in Maine to their life under the lights. That's an image ... We can really make a mistake if we compare our reality to someone else's image. You can never measure up to that because it isn't real. It is an image ... If you read all those magazines but also think you're interesting and attractive and intelligent and have a life going on, then I'd say it's not change-worthy behavior. But the question is, are you putting yourself down because you're not that image? That's the question you have to ask yourself."
Lexi and Her Parents, Angie and Tony

Angie worries that her 5-year-old daughter's copycat behavior has gotten extreme and explains, "When I put makeup on, she wants me to put makeup on her. If I wear a spaghetti string top, she wants to wear a spaghetti string top as well ... When I fold the laundry, she'll fold the laundry. It drives me crazy because it's constant. I don't want her imitating people and ending up smoking, drinking, doing drugs or having sex at a young age. Dr. Phil, how can I have Lexi stop copying me and be her own person?"
"A large part of what you're talking about is normal," says Dr. Phil. "The normal range is real broad. Some kids really get into it and it becomes a ritualistic thing that calms them. They figure that you're OK, so if they [imitate you], they'll be OK ... Certainly, it can be annoying. And it can annoy other kids because they get creeped out by it. So she can alienate some people while she's in this phase."
"Here's the thing you've got to do to get her out of this," says Dr. Phil. "It's a habit and a pattern. The interesting
thing you've got to understand is that you don't break habits. That's a misnomer. What you do is replace one behavior with a new behavior that is incompatible with the first behavior. She has to pick up some new behaviors and habits."
Dr. Phil continues, "What you have to do is sneak around and catch her doing something independent — like coloring or singing a song — and when you catch her doing something that is independent, you've got to shower her with praise and affection and rewards. Because what she wants is to please you. She believes that if she mimics you, she'll please you. What she has to understand is she can please people in her own right ... Catch her doing independent things and reward her and get her repeating those behaviors until she's just filled up with reinforcement. Then you can start [decreasing] it. You don't have to do it for the rest of her life."

"I'm extremely talented, creative and intelligent," says LaTonya. "My problem is that I consistently get in the way of my own success. Dr. Phil, why am I my own worst enemy?"

"This is not a unique problem," says Dr. Phil. "A lot of people deal with this ... I'm a strong believer that at the absolute core of who we are is what I call the authentic self. That involves all the gifts, skills, abilities, talents, traits and characteristics that you're given ... If we're consistent with that [self], and we're allowing those traits and characteristics to come out and achieve, then we're going to be really happy. On the other hand, there's the fictional self. Where we start making choices out of fear ..."

La Tonya explains that at her core, she wants to write. But although she has written short stories and music, her work sits on the shelf. "When I approached people who said they would help me, they didn't," explains LaTonya. "I thought if they didn't want it, maybe it wasn't good enough to be out in the world."
"Maybe I'm afraid of admitting that I'm not good enough," admits LaTonya.
"But don't you want to know?" asks Dr. Phil. "You're burning daylight. This is no dress rehearsal ...You've got to decide that what you need to do is the best you can do ... The difference between winners and losers is that winners do what losers aren't willing to do. Nobody wants to get rejected but winners say, 'I don't care if you reject me. It's going to hurt me but I would rather have the chance and reach for it than sit on the sidelines and watch the world pass me by.'"
Dr. Phil tells LaTonya that if she picks her best short story and gives it to him, he will read it. And if he likes it, he promises to have it read by someone who has the ability to get it published.

Al, who went from being a banker to a stay-at-home dad, now says he needs to go back to work ... just so he can relax! "For the past five years, I've been a stay-at-home dad and my wife has been the breadwinner of the family," explains Al. "While she's at the office, I'm at home caring for my two children, ages 3 and 4. I do it all. The shopping, cooking and
cleaning ... I'm pulling my hair out! ... I just felt like I wasn't really worth anything at first. I looked at it as an inferior job ... Then when I got into it, I realized it was a super-important job, probably the most important job in the world, and it was tough to deal with."
"There is so little written and understood about this that I brought in reinforcements," explains Dr. Phil. "There is a terrific book titled Stay-at-Home Dads, The Essential Guide to Creating a New Family, written by Libby Gill," explains Dr. Phil.
"There are millions of guys who are in this boat," explains author Libby Gill. "There is a weird double standard we have because women can now go out and take on virtually any kind of work and be elevated in society's eyes for taking over what was historically men's work. But men are diminished for taking on women's work."
Al explains that he has difficulty admitting what he does and that he wouldn't put his stay-at-home dad duties on his resumé.
Libby advises, "It sounds like you just need to figure out what your story is. As silly as it seems, rehearse it before you go to a cocktail party or interview." To add to his resume, Libby suggests that Al can think about volunteering, consulting, and putting down anything he's done with the schools.