Child Caught in the Middle: Matthew

Sick of the Pressure

"When my mother doesn't keep her word, she always says, 'I'm sorry. I had to work,' or get her nails done. She always makes a terrible excuse," says Matthew.

He describes the dream he held formerly about his mother returning to his life. "She'd pick me up after school, and I would spend a lot more time with her, like on Mother's Day, on Christmas Day and birthdays," he says. "She would give me lots of love and tuck me in at night. Now, she is here but she doesn't give me any of that, and it's really been tough.

"My mother, she never keeps her promises," he continues. "Two weeks before Halloween she promised me that we were going to go to a Halloween party, but she didn't even call. No show. I had to call her. Then, my mom and I made a date to go to Knott's Scary Farm, and when that date came up, I didn't know where she was, and I called her on her cell phone, like, 20 times. She wouldn't pick up until, like, the 30th time. All she said was just, 'I'll call you later. I'm busy right now.' She promised me she would get a PlayStation 3 for Christmas, and it's now a month later, and she hasn't gotten me that. One time, when she told me she was at work, I called them and they said, 'She's not working.' And it's really been tough.

"I would like to trust her, but it's just impossible," Matthew concludes. "I have her put her hand on the Bible, and then I ask her to tell the truth, and not any lies."
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Dr. Phil sits down with the young man alone. "Well, Matthew, you've been watching my conversation with your mother and your father," he says. "What do you want to see happen here?"

"I'd like to have a better relationship with my mother," says the teen, "and hopefully see her more, also without getting supervised."

"So, you want to see her alone," says Dr. Phil.

"It would be nice," he says, "but I understand the court orders. It says my dad has to supervise all visits."

"This will seem like an obvious question," says Dr. Phil. "I just want to hear it in your words. Why do you want to have this relationship with your mother?"

Matthew tells him, "I'd like to have a mother in my life because I'd like to have a balance in my life."

"And do you trust her at this point?"

"No, I do not."

"Why do you not trust her?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Because, every time I ask her to promise something," says Matthew, "she promises, and then the next day later it's broken."

Dr. Phil asks Matthew what he has told his mother when she has broken a promise to him.

He says, "'I'm really disappointed in you, Mom, and I cried all night hoping you could at least call.' The day that we were going to go to the Halloween party or Knott's Scary Farm, she didn't call. I had to wait two days later, or the next day, and it was really disappointing, because I thought I could trust her."

"During the break, when I first got back here," Dr. Phil says, "we were talking about the hospital and how you couldn't call her at first when your leg was hurt, then when you were back in, you said you did call her, and she didn't show up with balloons and all of that."

 

"No," says Matthew, "she didn't."
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"Why would she say that?"

"She usually lies. That's really all she does," says Matthew. "The second time I hurt my leg, she did come. It was, like, 11:00 or 12:00, but then, after I was throwing up the next time, two times, when I was throwing up, I had to go back to the hospital, and I called her, and she didn't come. It took 20, 30 times and she finally answered, and then she says, 'I can't come, Honey. I'm working.' And then she said after the first time I was throwing up, went to the hospital, she said, 'Next time, Honey, I will come to the hospital, when you need me.' And I called next time; she didn't come."

"What do you say to yourself about that?" asks Dr. Phil.

"I thought I could have a mother and have a better relationship with her, but really, she's making it so difficult," says Matthew. "And it's hard on me because I'm throwing up every single day, and it's really hard."

"Adults get into complex situations sometimes," Dr. Phil tells the teen. "They get animosity toward one another, but it's really important to me for children, whether they be 5 years old or 15 years old, understand that that's not about you. If she's not keeping agreements and commitments to see you, that's not about you. But sometimes people just can't give what they don't have to give. As we go through this, if nothing else happens, it's important to me for you to understand this isn't because you're not a good son, it's not because you aren't a good kid, it's not because you're not lovable, it's not because you're not inspiring as a kid to a parent. It's just because sometimes parents just don't have their ducks in a row, and it's really easy for you to say, 'Well, gosh, I must not be a very good kid.' And nothing could be further from the truth."
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Dr. Phil encourages Matthew to relieve the pressure he's feeling by talking through his issues with his parents when he joins them onstage. The boy has made a list of key questions for Cathie and Ronald, and Dr. Phil plans to help him get some answers.