Blended Family: The Kids' Turmoil

The Kids' Turmoil
Dr. Phil speaks with a family facing the extreme challenge of trying to blend two households together.The children in this tumultuous blended family voice their feelings:

Ashley: Our family has so much tension in this house, it's just been total chaos. The general feeling is that nobody wants to be here.

Mostly, I think Rachel wants all of us out of the house because she wants her dad all to herself. Rachel gets everything she wants from Lou. She asks him for money, he gives it to her. Lou treats Rachel like a princess. I think it would be better if Rachel weren't in the house, but I know she has nowhere to go.

I cry all the time because I just I don't have anybody to talk to anymore. My mom is my best friend. Just lately all her attention and energy is focused on Rachel, so it's like losing your best friend. My mom doesn't even talk to me about her problems anymore; I have no idea how she's dealing with this. Usually she'd tell me why she's crying, or why she's upset, but she doesn't anymore. She sits on her bed and she cries.

I feel lonely, I feel sad, I feel neglected and I just feel unwanted.
Amber: We're just falling apart, no one's getting along anymore.

With Rachel, I don't like her as much as I used to. She's started to yell at my mom a lot and she doesn't show as much respect as I show Lou.

I'm feeling a whole bunch of mixed emotions like sadness, madness, all at the same time.

I very much miss the times when we all got along.

Alex: Right now, I don't feel like this is my house.

George: Rachel treats my mom with less respect than anybody in this house.

Rachel and Ashley, when they get into fights, they curse each other off, and then they cause a lot of stress.

All the kids they feel like they don't belong; Rachel doesn't, I don't, Amber didn't, Ashley doesn't.

I know what's going on. I have secrets about my brothers and sisters that nobody knows.
Dr. Phil turns to Ashley, "Tell me what you think when you watch that tape."

"I hate watching it over," says Ashley, emotional.

Amber is also upset. "I just don't like how we treat each other. Watching that; it's just not right. We shouldn't be doing that," she says.

"What do you two want to see happen?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I want everybody to get along," says Ashley. "I want our family to be happy again. I just want everything to be the way it used to be."

"I feel the same way," says George.

Dr. Phil addresses George: "You know they said you don't really know what's going on, but I got the feeling you got a better view of what's going on here than just about anybody involved."
"I do. I have a really good perspective," says George, sounding very bright for a 10-year-old.
Dr. Phil plays the videotape of Rachel, voicing her feelings about the family situation.

When someone says I'm the cause of the problems, it's true, because every argument is with me. I have a very short temper. I keep it inside until it all builds up and finally I just explode.

There were times that I've said things that I regret. I called Dina a whore. And I called my dad a d*** head because I thought he was chosing Dina's side over mine and I got angry about it.

I feel that I am the odd person in this family. Everyone's against me. Most of the time I feel left out being a part of this family. If Ashley goes out, she never invites me; that hurts my feelings. I know I have to get along here because I have nowhere else to go. I have nowhere else to go.

I hate everything that's going on now. I hate my life. The only time I'm happy is when I'm not here. I don't like arguing. I just try to get away from it and run from it. I hate it.
Dr. Phil turns to Rachel, who is crying after seeing the videotape of herself.

"Rachel, tell us what you're thinking," he asks.

"I have no one who's on my side ... It would be different if I was actually living with my brothers and sisters ... No matter what the argument is or who's fault it is, they will always take her side because she's their mother, and I understand that, but he's never around. I have no one who I feel listens to me or is on my side," she says. "I want things to go back to the way that they were. When we first all moved in together, we were all excited. I just want everyone to be happy."

"You and Ashley used to best friends, right? Do you miss her?" Dr. Phil asks.

Rachel takes a deep breath, and exhales. "Yes."

Ashley nods in agreement.

Alex says he tries to stay out of the drama. "I'm not really home that much to put in to this. We have some problems that we need to work out ... I try not to pick sides," he says.
Amber reveals that she misses her father and the happy family she used to have.

"It's not that I don't like Lou, I love him with all my heart, but we're not a happy family anymore," says Amber, getting choked up, "and I want to be again. When I was with my dad, I was much happier. And now it's just falling apart and I want it to be happy again."

Dr. Phil addresses the children: "Do you guys think that this can work, that the seven of you can live in harmony?"

"Yes," they respond, in unison.

"We all love each other," says Rachel. "Everybody fights, but we all love each other. We want to see everybody happy."

"We don't want to break my mom and Lou up because my mom has never been this happy before," says Amber.

When Dr. Phil asks Dina and Lou what they think after hearing from the kids, Dina says she's a little in shock because she didn't know how her kids were feeling. "The biggest shock was George. I didn't think he understood a lot of what was going on in the house," says Dina.
Lou's affected by how well everyone has been getting along, and how upset they are now after seeing the footage of their pre-interviews. "It just tears me up inside and makes me want to run the other way," says Lou.

"Well, running the other way is not an option, for either one of you," says Dr. Phil. "And throwing Rachel under the bus as the one that's creating all the problems is not an option."

Dr. Phil turns to Rachel and inquires about her tendancy to yell and scream and fight. "Anger is just an outward expression of what really lies behind it. And what really is behind anger is hurt, fear or frustration. What's behind yours?" he asks.

"Hurt," says Rachel.

"Tell me about it. What hurts you the most?"

Rachel begins to cry. "My mom," she says. She pauses. "I miss being with my mom. It's totally different being with her and my sisters and then coming to live with a new family. And everyone's arguing and it's just caused a lot of stress for me."
Dr. Phil moves to sit near Rachel, and acknowledges her fear that all the family's problems are because of her. "What would you say if I told you that I don't think this is even almost your fault?" Dr. Phil asks.

"It makes me feel a lot better knowing that someone's not blaming me," Rachel responds.

"I don't think you got much of a vote at what you've been dragged through," Dr. Phil tells her. "I don't think you got much of a vote as to whether your father and your mother did a good job in their marriage ... So I think you've had a lot of this dumped on you and I think your anger is just your way of crying for help. Having said that, you are totally accountable for what you choose to do. I mean, calling your stepmother a "b****" and a "whore" and a "slut" is not a good plan. That's not going to endear you to this woman who's trying to be your father's wife and make a home for all of you."

Dr. Phil asks all the kids, "If I get involved in this thing and I help your parents come together in a unified way to create some order in this home, are you guys going to support that? Everybody's going to have to raise your game," he tells them. "Some peace can descend on this home."