Kids vs. Parents

Dominique videotapes her question for Dr. Phil:

"Dr. Phil, I have a situation that I need your help negotiating. I'm really unhappy with the college I'm currently attending, and I would love to transfer. My mother refuses to let me transfer because she feels that since she's paying my tuition, she should get to choose what school I go to," she says.

Dominique's mother, Joan, responds. "Considering the fact that tuition in the best schools here run under $5,000 a year, and the schools she wants to go to cost 10 times that amount, we think it's reasonable for her to complete her undergraduate studies right here at home. Dr. Phil, how do we negotiate this situation so we both get what we want?"

Dominique and Joan join the show via telephone.

"Let me tell you what I think is going on," Dr. Phil tells them. "You guys have chosen a battlefield that is a topic " that is, which school? The real issue here is who gets to direct Dominique's life and who doesn't. And Dominique, you want to direct your life, true?"

"Yes," she says.

[AD]"But you have to be realistic about budget, and here's what I'm going to tell you: You need to find out from your mother what that budget is," he says. "If you want to do something beyond that, you need to figure out how to pay for it. You need to get a job; you need to get a school loan. It's one thing to want something, but part of maturing is to figure out how to fund it. And what I'm going to ask you guys to do is make sure you focus on the issue and not the topic. Joan, the topic is not about which school she goes to; the topic is about who is making decisions in her life for right now.

"And Joan, I'm not telling you to spend money you don't have. I'm saying within a budget range, give her a chance to make some decisions and live with the consequences."

"I would like a later curfew. My curfew on the weekdays is 9:00, and the curfew on the weekends is 10:00," says Olivia, 16.

"They consistently break their curfew. They break their curfew probably five days a week," says Debbie, about her two teen daughters.

[AD]"I would like my curfew on the weekdays to be 10-ish and on weekends, 11:00 or 12:00," Olivia says.

"You haven't proven to me that you can keep your curfew," Debbie tells her daughters. "I watch the Nancy Grace show every night, and the last thing in the world I want to see is my girls on a show like that."

"My parents do worry, but they should be able to trust me," Olivia says.

Olivia and her 15-year-old sister, Samantha, ask, "Dr. Phil, how can we negotiate with our parents to give us a later curfew?"

Olivia and Samantha admit they don't always adhere to their parent's curfew.


Dr. Phil asks if they're trustworthy. "Have you made a deal and kept it? Have you been predictable and responsible in the things you've agreed to?"

"Sometimes," Samantha says.

"So, she can trust you sometimes, and the other times she can't. So, let me tell you, that's a bad place to be," Dr. Phil says. "What is her concern about you being out later?"

"She's worried that something is going to happen to us," Olivia says. The girls admit that some of their underage friends drink, but they don't.

"I promise you, you can earn more from your parents than you can ever steal. You can have more freedom out doing things than you can ever sneak out and do, or turn your phone off and do or break a curfew and do," Dr. Phil says. "If you conduct yourself with 100 percent accuracy, then they're going to start giving you more rope, because you can handle it."

"Sometimes we're just having a good time, and we just forget to call," Samantha says.

"Yeah, and that's called being immature, and what that means is you're not capable of handling that freedom because you get caught up," Dr. Phil says. He recommends they come up with an agreement and demonstrate that they can follow it, and then they can earn more time out. "You can earn your way to freedom by demonstrating your responsibilities."

Debbie and her husband, Phil, agree.

[AD]Dr. Phil questions the weekday curfew, which is 9:00 p.m. "There's no place for you be until 9:00 on Monday night. Seriously," he tells the girls.

About the weekend curfew, Dr. Phil says, "I could fight for 11:00, depending on where you are, how accountable you are."

He tells Debbie and Phil, "Your job is to protect their life and prepare them for the next level." If their daughters want to hang out with the wrong crowd, then they don't go at all. "With those safety considerations in mind, they should have the opportunity to earn a little bit more freedom on the weekends," he says. 

Dana writes:

Dear Dr. Phil,

My mom has a Chihuahua named Nugget that she honestly believes she is married to. She will literally escort you out of the house if you dare call Nugget a dog. Nugget has a complete wardrobe that includes pajamas, hoodies and polos, just to name a few. He even has his own place set at the table, with silverware and everything. My biggest issue is my mom has left everything in her will " yes, that's right, her entire estate " to Nugget and nothing to her eight children. She says she's talked to her lawyers, and it's completely legal. Dr. Phil, is there any way to negotiate with my mom so she puts her kids in the will and leaves Nugget only a few things?

[AD]Dr. Phil responds: "First, Mom, Nugget doesn't need that money. You could lay Nugget on his back and let him pee in his own face, and he wouldn't know where it was coming from! Now, it is legal in your state to leave money to your dog, but this is overreaction. You need to rethink your thinking, because it is a dog. That doesn't mean you don't love the dog. I love my dog. My dog goes everywhere with me. Maggie and I are like pencil and paper. But it is a dog. Doesn't mean you don't leave money earmarked to take care of the dog, but don't do that to your kids. I mean, it is a huge insult and not the message I think you want to leave. Think about it."