Family First: Follow-Ups: John and Devon

Dealing with Bullies
Dr. Phil follows up with two families whose households were in complete chaos.
Since being on the Dr. Phil show a few weeks ago, John and Devon's family has made some improvements. "We've done the homework assignments, we've answered questions and we've tried to implement things, and it's hard, but we are trying," says Devon. For example, before the show, John slept on the couch while their daughter Katie slept with Devon. Now everyone is back in their own beds.

Still, their home life is far from perfect. "John and I never have time for each other," says Devon. "It's like two ships passing in the night. I feel more like roommates." And tempers are still flaring. "There's little bitty things that can just set us both off," she says. Since reading Dr. Phil's book, Family First, John, Devon and their children all sit down for dinner as a family. But they still have trouble keeping the peace when they're all together. "Nobody gets along with anybody. There's arguing, there's chaos," she adds.

Another change that has yet to take place is the way their sons treat their daughter. "John and Kyle really have not changed toward Katie. They still call her names," says Devon, who also wishes the boys would show her respect, especially John Jr. "He will know what buttons to push to get me in a tizzy. When he's around, I just feel like somebody is smashing my body. I can't breathe because he is always picking on somebody."
John got a lot out of the homework that Dr. Phil assigned. "The best way I can describe that is reality check," says John, who has been doing his best not to yell anymore. He's also trying to reconnect with his children. "Since I got home from the show, I tuck them all in every night, kiss them good night," he says, acknowledging that not everything is perfect.

For example, John would like to see more respect in his household. "Since the show, I've learned the word 'respect' has got to be big in our house. I don't think anybody in this house respects each other," he says.
But John knows he needs to work on himself as well. "My aggressive behavior, I do need to work on that."

And his relationship with his wife needs improvement too. "Since I have gotten back in my bed, the levels of intimacy that we desire as a couple are still not there yet ... Devon is bitchy toward me. She demands satisfaction, but she gets a little over-agressive with it and that's when I turn on what took me 16 years to develop. I turn on those automatic earmuffs I've got; I just ignore it," says John. "Right now, I don't believe that [we] have the knowledge to create the good, wholesome marriage that we desire, but with knowledge from Dr. Phil, I'm pretty sure we can achieve that."
"You've heard me say that this is the highest calling you will ever have. Do you think you've put that on the top of your priority list?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No," says Devon. "Everything gets in the way. I mean, life in general."

John admits he hasn't made the family his number one priority, but he has moved it up quite a bit.

"What's more important?" Dr. Phil questions. He brings up the fact that in some of the family footage, their two boys are picking on their sister, Katie. In one instance, Kyle and John Jr. call Katie "retard girl," tell her "nobody likes you" and bully her. "I just have to take a deep breath here for a minute because watching that on the screen, it makes me mad," Dr. Phil tells them. "It doesn't kind of make me mad, it makes me real mad. I don't like bullies. And I can't for the life of me understand how two adults would allow a child in a home to be terrorized by anybody. You need to tell me how that's become OK."

"I never said that was OK because that's my daughter," says John, defensively.

"Apparently it is OK," responds Dr. Phil. "Based on results, it is OK, because you are in the room when that happens, but yet you allow those boys to do that."
Dr. Phil turns to John Jr. and Kyle: "Boys, let me ask you something. John, what are you thinking when you're calling your sister 'retard girl' and slugging her and making fun of her?"

"I do it for fun, I guess. She always does something back and she gets real mad and it's funny," says John Jr.

"Do you think it's funny, Katie?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No, sir, I don't," she says.

Dr. Phil points out that Katie has been having trouble making friends at school and her brothers make fun of her for it. He asks John Jr., "So she reaches out for some hope, and you slap it down. Is that fun?"

"Not really," says John Jr.

"If you walked into a mall and somebody had your sister against the wall and were slugging her in the arm and calling her names, what would you do?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I would go defend her," says John Jr.

"But yet it's OK for you to do it."
Dr. Phil turns to Kyle, "What do you think about picking on your sister?"

"I think it'll make her stop telling us what to do," says Kyle.

"Does it ever occur to you that you might be hurting her feelings?"

"Yes, sir," says Kyle.

"Does it ever occur to you that she might then go out into the world and think she's not a very good person because the two brothers that share her home with her are picking on her and putting her down?" he asks.

"No, sir," says Kyle.

Dr. Phils asks Kyle if he's ever been picked on. Kyle shakes his head no. "So you've never been on the other end of that," says Dr. Phil. "You love your sister, don't you, John?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes, sir," says John Jr.

"Kyle, do you care about your sister?"

"Yes, sir," says Kyle.
Dr. Phil turns back to Devon. "I don't have to convince you that it's not OK because you feel her pain, don't you? You get bullied, too, in your own home."

Devon agrees. Dr. Phil asks John about it. "You tolerate bullying in your own home," says Dr. Phil, explaining that they have to create a nurturing and accepting family system. "If you can't feel safe in your own home, you never get any rest. You've got to put your family on project status ... This isn't normal, it isn't natural, it's not OK. And you have to absolutely establish some standards of conduct."

Devon wants to do that, but she says John doesn't support her. "He doesn't back me up," she says.

"I want you to get over being mad at what has happened and get committed to what needs to happen. And that's two very different things," Dr. Phil tells Devon. "You have a lot of resentment, a lot of anger built up and you don't want to unify with him."

"It's not that I won't unify with him, it's that he won't unify with me against those two boys," says Devon.

"It's not them against us. This is a family. These aren't bad children; they just have bad guidance," says Dr. Phil.