How to Be a Better Parent: Laureen

Out-of-Control Teen

"My daughter, Shannon, doesn't treat me very well. I'm being bullied. She yells at me a lot of the time," Laureen says about her 16-year-old. "Shannon wants what she wants when she wants it, and if she doesn't get it all the time, it's sort of like dealing with a 5-year-old. I try not to give in, but as she gets older, it's getting harder, and I'm getting worn down. She was taking my credit card, and going online and charging things. I told her I was putting my room under lock and key, and she broke in. At one point, there was an altercation here one night, and Shannon got very angry at me and hit me, and I ended up calling the police. I have a lot of anxiety. I don't sleep. I cry a lot. There are times when Shannon takes off and won't tell me, and I'm frantic, searching, calling friends on the phone, trying to find her, and she does it on purpose to get to me " and she does. Shannon has been suspended for excessive class cuts. If Shannon's future keeps going to way it is, I'm afraid she's going to end up in jail."

"You've seen the conversations and accountability checks we've had up until now," Dr. Phil says to Laureen. "I met you. Your hands are sweating. Why?"

"I'm expecting to get thrown under the bus," she says.

"Why? Should you be under the bus? Do you want me to throw you, or do you want to just go lay down?" he asks.

Laureen laughs.

"Really, who owns this situation?"

"Well, I'm the parent, so … Everybody looking will say that, and I " It's me," she says.

[AD]"That's a ‘I'm a poor victim' answer," Dr. Phil says. "Really, who owns the problem? Does this girl have medical problems? Are there problems because of Dad being out of the picture?"

"All of the above," Laureen says.

"We've got a serious problem here. The judge said if school was a person, your daughter would be the festering cancer," Dr. Phil says. "That's a pretty severe statement from a judge. What do you think about that?"

"I feel horrible about it," Laureen says. "No parent wants to hear that about their child. The way she's been acting the last few years is not the daughter that I knew."

"What's going to happen if it continues as it is?" Dr. Phil asks. "You said she might go to jail. Do you think it would be drugs or violence?"

"What had happened, she was getting in so much trouble at school," Laureen explains. She was suspended for insubordination. She was suspended for obscene, vulgar language. She was suspended for excessive class cuts, so there is a procedure, where we live, that the school takes through the juvenile court system. And she was on probation, and she would have to go before this particular judge, and the next charge was disrupting school assembly, which is a criminal charge, and that is why I've taken her out of school, because that's what I felt I had to do to keep her from going to jail, or lockup, whatever they call it, and part of it is her friends " "

"OK, if she continued in school, she for sure was going to be in conflict," Dr. Phil says.

Laureen says the charges against her daughter were from the school. She pulled Shannon out of school to keep her out of trouble and to keep her away from certain friends. "Some of the people she was hanging with at school, it's almost like that part of " jail is almost like a right of passage," she says.

"She's not addicted to drugs. She's not pregnant. She hasn't committed some crime that's going to put her away for a period of time " " Dr. Phil starts.

"Not yet," Laureen interjects.

[AD]"So, it's not too late, but it's damn close. You get that you are desperately up against it?" he asks. Dr. Phil looks at the other parents. "Do you see what I'm saying? This is your future," he says, referring to Laureen and Shannon. "This is your future if you don't do something now, and the sooner the better because the older they get, the bigger they get, the stronger they get, the smarter they get, the more ability they have to rebel, the more ability they have to make decisions that they can't undo … And we are at a high-pressure situation right now in our families. A lot of pressure out there right now, economic pressure, foreclosures, things that are going to cause cracks in the family foundation. It's time to get some good solid parenting foundation."

Dr. Phil asks these families to temporarily move into The Dr. Phil House for a parenting boot camp. His goal is to teach parents how to take back control from their tweens and teens, with a simple goal of living in peace for the first time. "The point is, I really think children are entitled to a peaceful existence. I think children should grow up with joy, and should be laughing and having a good time. And when you get this kind of chaos, the kids don't like this. You may look at them as the ones who perpetrate it, but I guarantee you, if your child is in constant conflict and turmoil, it is as miserable for them as it is for you.

"Do y'all get that? Do you think this is what your children would envision for themselves? They want to have friends, they want to come home and hug Mom and Dad, ‘How are you doing?' get excited about what happened during the day, hear about your day, have fun. This is not all about the parents. I intend to capture what the kids are doing that is so frustrating." Dr. Phil explains that the families will participate in activities and exercises, not just talk. "I'm going to put you in different situations with your kids, sometimes with each other's kids, and this is going to show what some of the problems are. There is going to be conflict, there is going to be frustration, and there is going to be a new opportunity to deal with it in a new way. So this is about rolling up your sleeves and getting in there and playing the game, going through the process, getting involved with your kids interactively. Are you guys up for that?"

[AD]The group agrees.

Dr. Phil introduces Steve Davidson, the president and CEO of The Dr. Phil Foundation. Steve has assisted Dr. Phil with retreats like this over the years and will help facilitate the exercises at the boot camp. Steve leads the parents out of the studio and into vehicles that will transport them to The Dr. Phil House.

Tune in tomorrow to see the first day in The House!