Extreme Discipline?: Eileen, Susan

Discipline vs. Punishment

"My father drank from when he woke up to the time he went to bed," Eileen says. "If we made him upset for any reason, that's when we got hit. A couple times my father slapped me in front of my friends. He was choking me. I felt like I couldn't breathe. There was a lot of fear, and that's the way we basically lived every day. I never really understood why I was singled out by my dad. I guess I thought it was because I was a lot darker skinned than my brothers and sisters. I always felt like he was trying to find something bad about me. He would call me stupid. My father destroyed my confidence. I dated someone who emotionally abused me, and I felt that I deserved it. I wrote my book to help others who are dealing with emotional and physical abuse. After being emotionally abused, you can't live a normal life."

Although the level of abuse is different, Dr. Phil draws similarities between the way Eileen felt as a child to the way Rafael and Trisha's daughter feels. "I mean, you could've written those diary entries," Dr. Phil says to Eileen.

"Yes," she says.

"And this is something that has plagued you well into your adult life."

"Yes, it is. You cannot live normally after leaving a home that way. You basically feel insecure, again, you allow men to treat you the way they want to treat you, and you think you deserve it. It's just you cannot live a normal life. You're just an emotional basket case. It just isn't right," Eileen says.

Dr. Phil introduces Susan Schmidt, director of the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline.

"You believe that much of this crosses the line?" Dr. Phil asks, referring to Rafael's discipline.

"Absolutely, this crosses the line," she says. "Discipline actually is the act of teaching and guiding. The behavior of name-calling, anger, hostility, yelling and screaming " there's no discipline in that. That is absolute abuse."

Susan says name-calling is emotional abuse and standing at attention for two or more hours is abuse and tyranny. "I would like to make one other comment: Your daughter was sexually molested or abused, possibly raped. That has to be reported to the authorities. That has to be addressed legally. How you could not do that kind of boggles my mind. That child needed for you to stand up for her then. You need to do that now."

If you choose spanking as a discipline tactic, Susan says it's gone too far if marks or bruises are left behind. "Three swats maximum would do the trick," she says. 

Time-outs should be approximately one minute per age of the child. Susan says it has crossed a line when there are missed meals, no bathroom breaks and excessive time. "Food, safety, clothing, those are all our rights. Removing something like TV or radio, or having them do a time-out in a specific corner is certainly appropriate, but it's not good parenting to withhold food," she says.

Dr. Phil asks Rafael, "Do you think we're all a bunch of mamby-pambies? Or do you think it's time to makes some changes?"

"I know definitely those changes should've been made a long time ago," he says.

"Do you want to connect with your daughter?"

"Desperately. It would be a great Christmas present to have a genuine hug and a kiss from my daughter," Rafael says.

Dr. Phil offers to make some resources available for Rafael, Trisha and their daughter. They accept.