Family First: John and Devon

Where Chaos Reigns
Dr. Phil gives his guests the tools for a phenomenal family.
"Our family is the all-American family, but behind the doors, everything is falling apart," says Devon, wife to John and mother to John Jr., 14, Katie, 13, and Kyle, 11. "This family talks to each other like we're dogs. John and I are at each other's throats. The kids are constantly fighting ... It's not your Brady bunch."

Devon says she feels like she's constantly walking on eggshells, waiting for the next person to explode. "When you walk in this door, you never know when little John will explode at Katie, when Katie will explode at Kyle ... I want to just escape," says Devon, explaining that both her boys talk back to her, and her daughter has very low self-esteem.

"[Katie] doesn't make friends easy. She hates going to school. She doesn't like to separate from me," she says. In fact, Katie sleeps with Devon, and Devon's husband sleeps on the couch! "John has probably slept in this bedroom four, five times max since we moved in this home."

Devon explains that Katie is learning disabled. "But really, no one has ever been able to pinpoint exactly where the disability is," says Devon, who does everything for Katie, including her homework.
"Everything happens around here in a vicious cycle. Everybody is screaming at everybody," says John, who admits he's at fault as well. "Intimacy is nonexistent in our home," he adds.

Devon agrees. "I don't want sex. That's just another chore for me. I don't feel like it's a marriage. I feel like we coexist with three kids. We're just roommates," she says.

Devon turns to Dr. Phil for help: "My house is total chaos. I do understand why mothers just pick up and leave," she says.
John and Devon find it difficult to watch their story on camera. "It's pretty rough," says John. "Knowing that it's gotten out of control and I can't fix it."

"You can't fix it because you don't have the tools and you don't have the plan," says Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil tells Devon and John that they've lost the rhythm to their family and the boundaries have blurred. "Parents are supposed to be above the children, not down in the chaos, yelling and screaming and fighting like equals," he says.

"I feel like their our boss," agrees Devon.

"Well, you are working for them! That's what I meant, we got the tail wagging the dog here. Those kids are running the show!" Dr. Phil responds.
Dr. Phil brings up the fact that their two sons pick on their sister.

"I hate it," says Devon. "I hate for them to say anything to her."

"Isn't it true those boys have told you 'shut up' and 'mind your own business'?" Devon agrees. He turns to John: "Tell me about that."

"I've actually heard my oldest one say that," says John.

Dr. Phil is incredulous. He tells a story of what happened when his son, Jay, once sassed Robin. Although Robin doesn't remember what Jay said to her, she remembers Dr. Phil's response. "I can remember driving down the street one day," explains Dr. Phil. "And he was in the back seat and he smarted off to her. I pulled that car over and turned around said, 'Boy, look me in the eye. Don't you ever talk to my wife that way, ever again.'" To this day, Jay has never forgotten that.
"I have tried many times to get my two boys " my best friends " to that point, where they would listen to me in that manner," justifies John.

Dr. Phil points out the blurred boundary: "They're not your best friends, they're your children. Can you be friendly with your boys? Absolutely, and I commend you for doing it, but you cannot blur the boundaries. They have to understand that you're there as a supporter and a father, and that you love them and care about them. But they cannot misunderstand that when a decision is going to be made, they need to abide by it. There has to be order to a house. These boys need those boundaries."

Dr. Phil offers them help to diagnose their daughter's learning disability and makes it clear that it is unacceptable for their son to pick on his sister, especially because she has low self-esteem. "That has got to stop. And he has to understand that when he does that, his whole world comes to an end. He needs to understand that when you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences," he says.

"Oh, but he won't. He's John-John, he can do anything," says Devon, sarcastically.

"Yeah? Well, he hasn't met me yet," warns Dr. Phil, and the audience applauds. "Reinforcements have arrived."
Dr. Phil brings up the bed sharing issue: "Get back in your bed!" he tells John. "Get your 13-year-old daughter out of your bed. She's not your best friend. You're not having a slumber party. She's your daughter, she's 13, she needs to get in her bed," he tells Devon.

"But she won't! She will not," she argues. When Dr. Phil asks her to think about why, Devon admits, "Because I don't make her."

"Bingo!" exclaims Dr. Phil. "You guys have to create an environment where it's not acceptable to have the chaos, the yelling, the screaming ... I'm going to give you the ABC steps on how to do each one. It takes more than love; you've got to have a really good plan. That's why I wrote Family First, to give you a really good plan. You're going to have to meet every day and talk every day. This stuff about bickering back and forth " get over yourself. Your family needs to go to the top."