Five Factors for a Phenomenal Family: Theresa, Zach, Nic

Music Men
Dr. Phil follows up with some of his most memorable guests.

"I would describe our house as very loud, chaotic, nerve-wracking, out of control," says Theresa. Two of her sons, Zach and Nic, have formed a rock band and are constantly playing their instruments at home. "The boys' music has changed the whole atmosphere in our house because it's like Zach and Nic set the tone."

Zach, who plays the electric guitar at least five to six hours a day, is doing terribly in school. "He's not motivated to make good grades," Theresa says, admitting that she does not follow through with punishments. "Two weeks ago we took Zach's guitars away because he was doing so badly in school, and already I've given back the guitars. It causes a huge amount of friction."

Jim, who has been married to Theresa for five years and is the stepfather to her four children, also realizes that things in the house need to change. "It shakes the house and the neighbors can hear the music," he explains. Jim recognizes that Theresa is not helping the situation. "She has the backbone of a jellyfish," he says. "She's not very good at consequences for behavior. She typically will give in."
"I like to play rock and heavy metal. I need to play louder than Nic and that's almost impossible," admits 16-year-old Zach, who doesn't have a problem with his loud music. "It hasn't killed my hearing yet."

His younger brother, 13-year-old Nic,

says matter of factly, "They might yell about my music, but if it's that bad they would have done something about it already."


The boys play next door to their their 11-year-old sister, Morgan, who's unhappy and cries to her mother about it. "The music is so loud that some of my tea sets would vibrate off the shelf and fall," she explains. "It seems like I get the short end of the stick."

Theresa asks for Dr. Phil's help. "Where do you draw the line on supporting the kids without letting them take over the house?" she asks. "Dr. Phil, I know you have a son that plays the guitar. You must have faced some of these same challenges. Can you help me?"

Dr. Phil asks Theresa and Jim about their parenting. "What's your goal? Where are you trying to get?" he asks.

"My goal is to let the boys express themselves, be creative," Theresa replies, explaining that they love to play music and it's

their passion.

Dr. Phil explains the number one tool he talks about in his book Family First. "You have to have a clear definition of success for each of your children, and it will be different for each of your children," he tells them. "What would be success for these kids?"

"Right now my biggest concern is that my oldest son graduate from high school," Theresa says. "I want him to go to college. I want him to have a successful job and career in something."

"Do you understand that the topic here is music. The issue is how well are you socializing your children, and how well are you getting them to find their authentic self," Dr. Phil says to Theresa and Jim. "Those are two elements in the definition of success that you've got to have." He asks if they are socializing their children well.

"I don't believe that we are," Jim says. "One of the big problems that we are facing is that they are not concerned with obeying rules if it does not fit their wants and desires. They're not concerned with other people's feelings and how it affects them."

"I'm asking every parent in America right now, are you teaching your children how the world works or are you letting them get away with things that the world won't let them get away with?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I do let them get away with things," Theresa admits.

"The way we're going to change it, is we've got to make sure that [Zach] gets payoffs for the right behaviors and not for the wrong

behaviors," Dr. Phil tells her.

Theresa knows that what she is doing is wrong. "It's hard though because they're so cute and loveable," she says, acknowledging that she often gives them back their instruments after she has taken them away.

"You give it back because it makes you feel good to be nice to them," Dr. Phil points out.

"Plus, then they leave me alone," Theresa agrees. "But they know I'm going to give in, and then it makes my life easier when I do."

Dr. Phil continues, explaining his five factors. "Factor number one is that you have a family system that is nurturing and accepting for everyone," he says. "You've got half of your children that don't feel like it's nurturing and accepting for them."

"I really didn't realize it," Theresa admits. "I guess I just tried to ignore it, and I also asked them to ignore it. I put their feelings aside a lot."

That sends the other children, who have to endure the loud music, a message that they don't count. "To have a phenomenal family, everybody has to feel like 'I have a place in this family. I have a role in this family,'" Dr. Phil explains.

Dr. Phil points out that his son, Jordan, plays the guitar, but it is different in their house. While Jordan practices in his soundproof room, Dr. Phil is able to listen to his own music quietly while doing his work.

"There are two things here that I want you to think about," Dr. Phil tells Theresa and Jim. "One is, you've got to socialize this young man. He's got to understand that you have to work to have access to the things that you want to do. That's the way the world works." They shouldn't take away his music, but they must teach him that if he wants to play the guitar, then he must do his schoolwork first, and earn the right to play the guitar. "It's a very

empowering thing to children if they understand, 'I dictate what I get to do,'" Dr. Phil explains.

When Theresa says that she tries to institute rules but they don't work, Dr. Phil says, "I would put [the guitars] in a wood chipper if I had to, to get it under control!" Dr. Phil reemphasizes that Zach needs to earn his music. "The second thing is you've got to get some balance and some rhythm at home," he tells her. He offers Theresa a deal. "If you will agree to set some rules and guidelines where he has to do his homework and monitor on a regular basis and stick to it ... I will get Lowe's Home Improvement to come to your house and wrap any room you want " floor, ceiling, walls, door " and soundproof it."

"I'm going to get me a plan," Theresa says.

"You've got to get a plan, you've got to set up a contingency and you've got to stick with it," Dr. Phil says.