In-law Intervention

In-law Intervention
Dr. Phil tries to keep the peace between feuding in-laws.
Kerry notices that her daughters are affected by their quarreling grandmothers. "I think my kids have to know that their grandparents don't get along. Each grandmother makes snide comments about the other grandmother," she reveals.

Ernie also fears that his kids are in a tug-of-war. "Maddy told me that 'Grandma Wanda hates Grandma Carol,'" he says. "Wanda'll say, "Are you going to 'Grandma CC's house?' Which is Carol C**t. It bothers me. The way she works them, manipulates them. If it was up to me, [the kids] would never go over there."

Kerry also feels like she can't please her mother-in-law. "One thing that drives Carol nuts about me is my parenting style. I'm not harsh enough. I'm not a disciplinarian," says Kerry. "A major difference between Carol and my mom is the way they interact with my kids. Carol is very authoritarian and disciplinary, whereas my mother is more like the loving grandma."

Carol has a different viewpoint. "I believe the real problem is Kerry's inability to cope. Her mother tells her what a poor parent she is. Kerry can't cope with that," she reveals."Is there any theory under which you would intentionally seek to cause pain for your grandchildren?" Dr. Phil asks Wanda.

"No."

He asks Wanda the same question, and she replies, "Never."

"Do you believe and recognize that you are interacting in a way that is causing pain for your grandchildren?" he asks the women.

"I suppose. I don't swear in front of them or fight with [Wanda] in front of them and things like that," Carol maintains.

To his mother-in-law, Ernie says, "You pick and pick and pick and pick until you find a sore spot and get me to blow my temper."

Wanda responds, "Ernie I'm having a real hard time responding to that because I don't know when I picked on you. I don't think you've ever had a good home life and you don't know what having a loving family is all about."

Kerry expresses frustration at being in the middle of her husband and her mother. "It's like I'm being forced to choose between you and him. And I can't do that anymore," she tells Wanda. "It's tearing me apart. It's the two people I love most in the world."
Addressing both mothers-in-law, Dr. Phil says, "I couldn't care less who's right or wrong. I think both of you can be delightful women. I think you're both strong women. I think you're both intelligent." Despite their good qualities, both women can also be very controlling. "I think you both can run your agenda. I think you are so much alike that you can't even stand to look at each other is what I think."

Turning to Ernie, Dr. Phil implores him to take on a leadership role at home. "Because you have the history, you have the relationship and particularly, you as the husband here, you're charged with protecting this family. It's your job to manage your mother," he advises, telling Kerry she needs to do the same thing with her mother.

"I agree with you, but it's a hard thing to do," Kerry admits.
Dr. Phil acknowledges that it's difficult to manage the mothers-in-law, but the couple needs to set boundaries. "It is a privilege to be permitted into the lives of your children. It is a privilege to be permitted into your home. Do I want you to sever relationships with your mother? I think that would be the worst possible outcome to come out of this," he tells them. "You teach people how to treat you ... and you have obviously taught these two women that they can give opinions, intrude, disrupt things in your marriage right and left."

He urges Carol and Wanda to call a truce. "The greatest gift you can give to this young mother and dad here is for the two of you to find it in your heart to forgive and forget and quit looking over your shoulder and live in the future," Dr. Phil says. He encourages the mothers-in-law to find common activities, such as worshipping together. "You don't have to be best friends — I don't care whether you do or you don't — but you need to be peaceful."

Dr. Phil implores Kerry and Ernie to take control and lead and protect their family.