Family First: Follow-up, Part 2: Tony and Tammy

Family First: Follow-up, Part 2: Tony and Tammy
Dr. Phil checks back in with two families in crisis.
"Since we were on the show last, things are better in the sense that I'm not spanking the kids like I did," says Tammy. "I'm still yelling some, but it's not as bad as it was."

But Tammy sees a lot to improve. "The kids are still fighting all the time. The stress level in the house is very, very high," she says. "Life with Tony has been better, but we still have our days. I'm aggravated. I feel Tony's not helping around the house. I do put the house work above the kids, but I feel like I have to get it done."

Tony is concentrating on spending time with his children. "Tammy and I are having the battle royale over setting our priorities," says Tony. "My priorities are the kids and the family. Her priorities are on the house."

One day, he put off working on the house to play football with his two sons. "I just decided the other things could wait," says Tony. "She actually got mad at me that I was outside playing instead of working on the house. When Dr. Phil said family comes first, I really took that to heart. I now put the kids in front of everything else in my life."
Tony has been reading Dr. Phil's book. "Family First has taught me that I have to teach with reinforcement. When the kids do something positive, I have to reinforce that," he says.

"He'll spend time with the kids and treat them like they're on top of the world and I don't get that," she says, getting emotional. "Tony has worked on the his relationship with the kids much more than he's worked on it with me. I can't remember in the last three weeks when we've been intimate. To me, it's just a chore. During the last show, when Dr. Phil said that I needed a soft place to land, that just hit something inside me. I need Tony to be there for me, and I don't feel he is."
Dr. Phil asks Tammy: "Let me just find out what your thinking is about Tony's relationship with the kids. Not to the extent that it's at your expense, but how is he doing with them?"

"He's doing really good with them. He plays with them, he drops whatever he's doing and goes and plays with them. And that's wonderful, but —"

Dr. Phil interrupts her. "I don't want to talk about in terms of what it's costing you yet. I just want to know whether or not you see the progress and the value there with what he's doing in the relationship with the kids."

"Definitely," she says.

"And do you?" Dr. Phil asks Tony. "Do you feel the difference?"

"It feels great," says Tony. "There's nothing like it ... The kids will come up to me and ask to do things, whereas before, they would say, 'Dad's around, let's get out of here."
"What are you doing that is causing them to have changed their interaction pattern with you so much?" Dr. Phil asks Tony.

"For one, positive reinforcement," he says, explaining that he no longer says, 'Do you have rocks in your head?' when the kids do something wrong. "Instead it's 'How about we try something like this' and reinforcing when they are making the right choices."

You're loving them back to you," observes Dr. Phil. "You're being positive, you're finding good things to talk to them about, you're sharing positive experiences with them, you're doing things that make them feel good about you being around. What would happen if you took that tool, took that power and you applied it to your marriage?"

"I would imagine, the same thing would happen," admits Tony. "I've gone 100 percent toward the kids and kind of left her behind. And I realize that."Turning to Tammy, Dr. Phil says, "You should be celebrating the fact that the children have their father back."

"I'm happy that he's doing that, but I'm sad, because I'm all alone," she says, getting emotional.

"You want to be on the list too," says Dr. Phil. "But you don't complain your way onto the list. You ask for what you need and you get some allies, like me, that can talk about redirecting. This is a process. Don't get frustrated. It's a marathon and not a sprint.
You've made amazing progress. Notwithstanding the fact that you may be getting neglected by him right now," he says, turning to Tony, "I am for one, stand up proud of you as a dad for what you are doing with those kids."

The audience applauds.

"I am. And you should be too," he tells Tammy.