Homework Hell: During the Break

When the Cameras Stopped Rolling

During the commercial break, Dr. Phil takes issue with Angela's assertion that she is being mischaracterized in the video footage. "What I understand is you want to control this and you don't want me to tell you things you don't want to hear. And then you want to give me a cheap shot about, ‘Well, if that makes good TV, then fine, you just go right ahead.' But the fact is, that doesn't intimidate me one bit. Your son needs help," Dr. Phil stresses. 

"I know. I agree," Angela replies.

"You need to hear that the way your son is seeing you is probably very intimidating and very overwhelming," Dr. Phil says.


Gayle agrees. Turning to her daughter, she says, "I can understand where Masen comes from. You intimidate me, and I'm your mother."

"We don't have a good relationship," Angela says. 

"Would you like to talk about this some more, or would you like to go home?" Dr. Phil asks Angela. 

Angela considers his question. "I want to be able to help my child. That's why I'm here," she says.

"When you hear me say, ‘You can't change what you don't acknowledge,' what does that mean to you?" Dr. Phil asks Angela. 

She replies, "If you don't acknowledge you have the problem, or that you're causing that stress, then you're not going to be able to change it."

"I've really been trying to spend some time to break through your need to control everything to get you to take a clear look at the fact that through your son's eyes, you probably look 10 feet tall, and a real authority figure. It's easy for him to quickly say, ‘I can't please her.' He'll avoid. He'll do anything to just try to stay away," Dr. Phil points out. "What you're doing creates distraction with him."

The first thing Angela needs to do is set boundaries and find another way to ensure that Masen gets his homework done. "The best way to do that the quickest is for you to stop being the homework monitor," Dr. Phil explains. "To get out of that role and have someone else facilitate that. I suggest someone professional to facilitate that, to get those study habits going again, get those brain habits going again."

Dr. Phil offers to arrange a professional tutor to work on study habits and organizational habits to get Masen back on track.

Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Frank Lawlis, chairman of the Dr. Phil advisory board, and author of The IQ Answer. "I think it's certainly possible that there may be some neurological changes and some biochemical changes that could contribute to this as well," Dr. Phil says. 

"Absolutely," Dr. Lawlis replies. "I think also, there may be some exposure to heavy metals, or some other kind of toxic element that we need to look at that will also create this kind of problem in learning."

Dr. Phil turns to  Angela. "There may be some things going on, and there is a lot that can be done with him to manage himself intellectually," he explains. "I think we need to look at the whole process. We need to make sure his brain is working properly."


Angela expresses her gratitude. "That's all I want is for him to be his own person, and for him to take this responsibility on himself," she says. 

Dr. Lawlis says, "He needs to be evaluated, not only neurologically, but also we have a stress issue going on. It may be continuing, so we need to create a stress inoculation program as well."

Dr. Phil explains what children experience physiologically when they are stressed. "All of their chemistries can change. They can go into a state of adrenergic arousal, where they're just pumping a lot of adrenaline. The blood is literally rushing in their ears," he reveals. "They start paying attention to a lot of cues coming from their body, and that worries them, so they try to retreat from that. That would explain why it's taking him six hours to do something " because he's checking out emotionally."

Turning to Gayle, Dr. Phil says, "You don't question her intention with Masen?"

"No. Not at all," she replies. Cindi says the same thing.

Dr. Phil wants Angela to understand that he doesn't think she's a bad parent. "I've never questioned your intention with Masen," he stresses.