In-law Intervention

In-law Intervention
Dr. Phil tries to keep the peace between feuding in-laws.
Dr. Phil felt that there was more work to be done with the family, so he invited the mothers-in-law on a weekend camping trip to work out their issues.

As soon as Carol sees the Winnebago, she covers her face with her hands. "Just take me back to airport. I don't camp. I'm sorry," she says angrily.

Carol finally agrees to join the rest of the family in the RV to watch a taped message from Dr. Phil. He announces: "I've brought you here for a very special weekend retreat. The next two days will involve specific work for Wanda and Carol. Wanda and Carol, you agreed to fly out to L.A. to do whatever is best for your children Kerry and Ernie. I want to see how well you can work together. Kerry and Ernie, you will be going back to your hotel room in a moment. Carol and Wanda, the task that I'm about to give you will be challenging. But for your hard work, there are big prizes and toys for the grandkids."

Carol won't even watch the tape. "I'm getting the hell out of here!" she says, and storms from the camper in disgust. Ernie pushes the camera away, and runs after his mother.Everyone returned to the hotel room when Carol refused to participate in Dr. Phil's exercise. The next day, Kerry, Ernie and Wanda give their views on her decision.

"I'm disgusted with Carol. I'm disappointed," Wanda admits. "I thought that was so unfair of her. Dr. Phil went to all the trouble to get us all back out here again. What was she thinking when she even agreed to come out here?"

Ernie agrees. "I was really shocked with my mom's reaction. I didn't think she would totally shut down like that and not want to participate." He doesn't let his mother-in-law off the hook either. "I believe Wanda was doing the activity because my mom wouldn't. And if my mom would have gotten out of the car first and been willing to go, Wanda wouldn't have gone," he reveals.

Kerry thinks Carol is being stubborn. "She had the power to make the decision of, 'Am I going to try and get along and try to get this stuff for my grandkids and my kids, or am I not?' If you can't suck it up and try to be a decent person, and have your grandkids have stuff, then you know what? I don't need to be flexible and bend to your will every single time you want me to," she says firmly.
Dr. Phil calls for a family meeting on stage. He seats Kerry and Ernie next to their mothers-in-law. Reminding the couple that their role as parents is to protect their children, he asks, "Do you accept that that's your job?"

They both agree.

When Dr. Phil asks how things stand, Carol chimes in, "Worse. When I first came here, I had no hatred against Wanda. I didn't know her. Since I've been here and I've listened to the conversations and some of the things that have happened, I guess I have to say I have very little respect now."

Dr. Phil takes her to task. "So before you came here, everything was just fine?" he probes.

"No, I'm not saying it was fine with me. It didn't bother me." Carol answers.

Kerry interrupts, "Because you got your way all the time."

"If people have a problem with me, why can't they say something to me?" Carol questions.

Kerry stands her ground. "Because they can't," she says. She explains that every time she tries to talk to her mother-in-law, Carol either leaves the room or refuses to listen.
Addressing Carol, Dr. Phil says, "You are a powerful entity in this family because you are a grandmother and you are a mother. As a result, people care how you think, people care what you feel. And when I talk to you, it's like, 'I just don't have a problem. All these people have problems, but I don't have a problem.'"

Carol counters, "I didn't say all of those people have problems. I did not say that."

Turning to Ernie, Dr. Phil suggests that he take more of a leadership role in his family. "If somebody disrespects my wife or my children, they're disrespecting me. If they are unkind to the people that I love and care about, it's no different than if they walked up and slapped me in the face. Do you feel that way?"

"Absolutely."

"Do you feel any compunction to say, 'Mom, listen, you're not helping here. Step back'?"

"I have. I have," Ernie says.

Kerry gives her husband only a little credit. "I'd say, yes, that he has tried, but I think that every time his mom throws a fit, then he feels bad for her," she says.