Follow-ups: Tony and Christina

A Dangerous Game
Dr. Phil follows up with Tony and Christina about the danger Tony was exposing their son Zander to.
Since appearing on the show, Tony and Christina have come to an agreement about their son Zander's safety.


"The show was such a wake-up call for both of us," says Christina. "Tony stopped putting [Zander] in dangerous situations immediately."


Tony agrees that Dr. Phil helped him re-evaluate his "boys will be boys" attitude with Zander. "I was teaching him things that a 4-year-old does not need to learn," he admits. "Now I am learning to be more of a father to him."


Both Tony and Christina have established boundaries and rules that Zander must follow. "Number one is no knives," Tony says emphatically. "I don't let him go on balconies without rails anymore. No more swinging chains."


Even though Tony and Zander still wrestle and play games, Tony says that he knows where to draw the line. "I'd like to thank Dr. Phil for making me see that I need to be more of a father to my son and not just a buddy," he says.

Dr. Phil asks Christina if she thinks the progress Tony has made is genuine.


"Right after the show, there were immediate changes," she recalls.


Dr. Phil wants to know if Tony realized that he was not using the best judgment in exposing Zander to potential danger.


"Things have changed considerably," Tony replies. "The house has been sanitized of all the bad things. Everything I can think of is out of his reach " no more dangerous stuff. He plays with toys and toys alone."


Christina agrees that Tony is improving, but now says that Zander has now picked up another behavior that worries her. She recently walked in on her son looking at a pornographic magazine with his pants down.


"I completely freaked out," she says. "I called our therapist, and we sat down together and talked about what we needed to do."

Tony tries to explain that Zander found the nude magazine accidentally. "I cleaned up everything that I could, and everything that I found that was bad," he protests.


"How did he know to have his pants down?" Dr. Phil questions. "At 4, that's not even sexually relevant material to him."

Dr. Phil asks Phyllis Chase, a licensed therapist who has been working with Tony and Christina for several months, if she thinks the couple is doing better.


"Yes, we made an agreement last night," she assures him. "It was a very volatile situation. Christina was very, very angry, but we resolved it. That stuff is either out of the house or under lock and key."

"Tell me what you want for the future of this family," Dr. Phil asks the couple.


"We want to be a family," Christina replies. "Whenever the three of us got together, we could not agree on how Zander was supposed to act. What I wanted was for us to be a family again."


Dr. Phil brings up Christina's admitted drinking problem, and asks if she was using alcohol to anesthetize her problems.


"I was following in my family's footsteps and just taking the easy way out," she admits, but says that she's been sober since October.


Dr. Phil points out that Tony has called his wife the B-word and the C-word, and that Christina has also called Tony those names.


"When you call her these demeaning, debasing, defiling names, what do you expect her reaction to be?" Dr. Phil asks Tony.


Tony claims that he lost his temper with Christina when he found her liquor bottles hidden in the house.


"You guys want to be right," Dr. Phil observes. "I suppose as adults, that's your choice. But you have a child involved here."


Tony acknowledges his role in the name calling, and tells Dr. Phil that he's ready to move forward.

Dr. Phil tells Christina and Tony that their name-calling arguments could escalate into divorce. "The one thing that predicts that you're going to get a divorce is not whether you fight or not; it's how you do it," he explains. "It's whether or not you stick to the issue or you get to the point where it deteriorates into character assassination."

 

As Christina starts crying, Dr. Phil tells her, "You are never less powerful than when you're angry, because you are never more of a victim than when you're angry ... When you stand up and look him in the eye with dignity and self-respect, he will stop doing that."


Dr. Phil tells Tony, "When you look her in the eye and deal with this as a man, then two things happen. Number one, your marriage will be preserved, and number two, the base of operations for your son, his foundation in this world, will be preserved."

Dr. Phil wraps it up with Tony and Christina by telling them that appearing on the show is just the start of the healing process.


"We try to be an emotional compass and point people in the right direction," he tells the audience. "All the work of changing and improving lives takes place after they leave here."


Tony and Christina are both reading Relationship Rescue, and Dr. Phil instructs them to skip ahead to the section on "Fighting Fair."


"I don't like people jumping ahead in my books," says Dr. Phil, "but you guys can jump ahead to page 233 through 237, which gives you the rules of fighting fair."