Hot Warning Signs: Yvette, Archie, J.R.

Lying and Stealing
Dr. Phil examines hot warning signs that say your child is in crisis.

"My 16-year-old son is headed for trouble and I feel he may be headed for prison if we don't get him some help," says Yvette.

Her son, J.R, took his brother's car without permission and got into an accident, was suspended and arrested for stealing $500 from the office at school where he was working, and was kicked out of school in the eighth grade for selling fake marijuana. J.R. used to be a "B" student, but his grades have dropped to "Ds" and "Fs."

"I'm not a troublemaker. I get into trouble. I don't make trouble," says J.R., who explains that he took the car because he didn't want to walk six blocks to the store. In regards to stealing the $500, J.R. says, "I just wanted the money. Everybody likes to have money." He defends himself saying, "I'm not a bad kid. I'm a good kid who makes bad mistakes."

When it comes to discipline, Yvette and Archie, J.R.'s dad, take two different approaches. Yvette, who uses grounding and taking things away admits, "I think my husband's style probably gets more results."

"When he's not listening, I may just slap him upside his head," Archie explains. "He's headed to jail and to hell."

Archie's harsh discipline has a lasting effect on J.R. "When he gets really mad, he calls me names like dumb a**, stupid and f***up," J.R. says. "It breaks my spirit."

Dr. Phil asks Yvette and Archie what they have learned so far.

Archie responds, "When you go out and do something stupid, well then, I can't call you nothing but stupid."

Dr. Phil wants Archie to look at the origin of his son's behavior. "Did he just come out of the womb and start doing stupid stuff?" Dr. Phil asks. "You've got a 16-year-old boy who's in trouble and you're gone five days a week. How's that working for you?"

"It's not working good at all," Archie replies. "I'm wondering if I could switch jobs so that I could be at home more to see what's going on at home. But who said that will change things?"

Dr. Phil raises his hand and says, "I do."

Dr. Phil tells Archie that when he was 15 years old, his family was very poor and his dad had to leave town for work. Dr. Phil had been getting into trouble in the months before, so his

dad decided to take his only son. "He came to me and said, 'Boy, you need to pack your stuff, cause we're leaving ... We are leaving for a year and I don't have the money to take everybody but you need your daddy,'" Dr. Phil explains, saying that they lived under difficult circumstances.

"I'm telling you this young man needs his dad in his life, right now. And not telling him he's stupid, and not hitting him upside the head, but teaching him how to be a man. Teaching him how to make right decisions and how to recognize wrong decisions. He needs guidance, not ridicule. He needs presence, not criticism. He needs you bad. Cause you're a good guy with a good work ethic," Dr. Phil stresses.

"I think you're probably, right," Archie says. "He might go out and do something stupid or dumb probably less if I'm there watching him."

Dr. Phil asks Archie if his "whoopins" have been effective with J.R.

"No, it hasn't been effective," Archie replies. "It used to work."

"Why have you done some of the things you've done?" Dr. Phil asks J.R.

"I did not want to walk down to the store, so I took the car," J.R. tells Dr. Phil about the car he took and then crashed.

"This is a problem solving deficit and a problem recognition deficit," Dr. Phil says. Whooping J.R. does not help him become a better problem solver, but sitting down with him and having a conversation would help him to see around the corner and see what the downside is.

Archie says that he has done that when he gets home on the weekends, and Dr. Phil suggests they talk with him during the week before the bad things happen.

"There is something that I call commando parenting. When you get to a crisis point as a parent, you have to make a choice. Whether you're going to work out of town on maybe an A job or maybe even have to stay in town and take a B job. But the point is, you're there. You've gotta be willing to be there," Dr. Phil says.

He explains that his own dad could have had a much easier time without him, but he decided it was important enough to take him. "He made that sacrifice for me at that time, and I can't tell you what bullets he dodged when he took me out of town," Dr. Phil says. "I guarantee you, had he not done that, I would not be sitting here today." As for J.R., Dr. Phil tells Archie, "He needs his dad ... And 'whoopin' him or 'slapping him upside the head' just isn't going to get it done.

"The kid's lost. He needs more guidance," Dr. Phil continues. "And he's got a good, strong, clear-eyed father that can teach him what he needs to know ... You've got to get more involved with your son. That means being more in his life ahead of time, not after the fact."

Archie agrees, "To get him on the right track, I'm going to do what it takes."