Follow-Ups: Colleen

Family Feuds
Dr. Phil follows-up with Tammy and Troy to see where there marriage is at.

Colleen is a single mother raising five children who bully, yell and fight with each other so much, that she fears the out of control violence could become deadly. Since she and her kids appeared on 'The Bickersons,' Colleen and her family have succeeded in making some changes in their relationships.

With the help of Jennifer Gearhart, a licensed social worker, they implemented family meetings using Dr. Phil's strategies and techniques. The meetings were initially filled with fighting, yelling, and 13-year-old Brian's unwillingness to participate, but Jennifer was able to help them move forward.


"Seeing the tape of me yelling, the kids fighting, it was embarrassing," Colleen says. "It made me very sad to think that my children are interacting like that." She admits that her kids are filled with a lot of anger, and because she is caught up with

her own issues, she is unable to help them get through their problems. Still, she feels that her relationship with her kids has changed since being on the show, and her daughter Becky points out that Colleen's been trying to keep herself calm.


"We're starting to get along a lot more than we used to," 10-year-old Devven says.


"We're starting to become more like brothers," Mikey, his 15-year-old brother, agrees.

Dr. Phil asks Colleen what impact the family meetings have had on her and the children.


"The problem is I think the kids are afraid to open up and talk in front of each other because I think they're going to, in a rage again, take it out on each other," she explains. "They don't want to get sentimental in front of each other because they are afraid they're going to attack each other after about it."


"How do you think they went in terms of what we tend to expect in these first meetings?" Dr. Phil asks Jennifer.


"I think they've gone very well," Jennifer tells him. She says they still have a lot of work to do, but they are not used to sitting down together as a family.


Dr. Phil gives his opinion. "I thought they went exceedingly well for the first couple of meetings, when you go from just absolute open warfare to sitting down and having civil conversations to begin with," he explains. "The idea is to start these with [Jennifer] there, then she pulls back some so you guys can own the meeting and have the openness and candor that you need in the meeting," he tells Colleen.

Dr. Phil wants to know why Colleen has not continued to meet with her kids without Jennifer.


"They don't look at me in a respect level," Colleen tells Dr. Phil.

"I want to have a respectable relationship between them and me, but I don't know where to start," she says.


"I told you where to begin, and you decided that was not right," Dr. Phil says to her. "The truth is, you don't believe in your ability to help yourself." Colleen agrees, and Dr. Phil reminds her, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge." He explains that children learn what they live, and her kids have lived through some hurtful things, and learned how to vent using anger and violence. Colleen has also contributed to this when she yells and screams. But there is hope. "Children are really very resilient. They're really willing to learn. They just sometimes feel conspicuous. They don't know exactly where to start," he says.


"When it's just me and them, it falls apart. We can't do it on our own," Colleen tells him.


"You don't know that because you didn't try," Dr. Phil responds.

"You are going to have to accept something here. There is no magic pill. There is no magic fix, and Jennifer ain't moving in to your house. You're not going to get somebody that's going to come in and raise your family for you," Dr. Phil tells Colleen. They discussed that with the help of Jennifer, Colleen would start having the meetings with her children, and then eventually have the meetings on her own. "You didn't do it," Dr. Phil points out. "Let's use the tools we have before we say, 'Well that won't work.'"


Referring to her comment that she does not feel respected by her children, Dr. Phil says, "Respect is commanded, it's not demanded. You do not demand respect, you command it by who you are and how you do what you do."


He tells the kids that they did a good job in the meeting, and Becky responds: "What's hard about that is, in some sense we were being told to say something. Family meetings right now aren't going to work because we have so much anger toward each other and toward what's going on." She explains to Dr. Phil that they are told to say nice things, but are not allowed to say the bad things.

"As awkward as healthy behavior feels, the more awkward it feels, the more you need to do it," Dr. Phil tells her. He explains that they need to practice speaking to each other, and if they never talk about the things that don't matter, they will never talk about things that do matter. "You truly need the practice to sit down and do it, and it has an effect," Dr. Phil says. "You've got to walk before you can run."


Dr. Phil has a surprise for Colleen and her family. "I also know that money is tight, and we wanted to lighten that load a little bit, and try to take a little pressure off of you," he tells Colleen. Shop Rite Grocery Stores will provide the family with $200 worth of food weekly for the next six months.
"I want you to do what you are getting help to do here. Will you do that?" Dr. Phil asks Colleen.


"Yes, definitely," she replies.


"Sometimes you just have to go on blind faith. This will get better," he tells Colleen. He gives the kids one more piece of advice. "Each of you has a responsibility to help and contribute to this family. You're all each other has right now, and you need to step up and be constructive members of this family," he says. To Colleen he says, "You're the parent. You need to be the leader. You need to take action."