In-Law Threats: Brian, Keri and Patti

War of Words

"I never liked Keri from the beginning, because she's a very rude and offensive person," says Patti of her daughter-in-law. "When Brian first brou

ght Keri home, he said, ‘Oh, she's not Ms. Right, she's just Ms. Right Now.' I guess she's Ms. Forever now."


Keri says that the nine years of fighting with her mother-in-law, Patti, keeps her walking on eggshells, constantly watching what she says and does. "She had said that she wanted me to drop off the face of the earth. She thinks that I have ruined her relation

ship with her son," Keri says. "Patti makes me nervous. I am afraid that she would have me killed for revenge."


Brian, Keri's husband and Patti's son, says that he often feels caught in the middle. "My mother has called my wife a fat-ass b*tch. She's called her a piece of sh*t. Some of the names that my mother has called my wife I wouldn't let anyone call my mother," he says. He claims that his mom has even threatened to get a hit man. "This fighting has been going on for nine years. My wife would call me crying then my mother would call on the other line. I tried to referee, but eventually I just told them, ‘You know what? Settle it between yourselves.'"


Patti admits to the name-calling. "I have called Keri a piece of sh*t, because she is a piece of sh*t. I have called Keri an a**hole, because she is an a**hole," she says. "I felt very sad on Keri and Brian's wedding day. I think she was trying to trap him by getting pregnant. He's never said to me that he loves Keri, never once. I felt he was making a mistake. Someday he's going to come to me and say, ‘Mom, you were so right.'"

Dr. Phil addresses Patti. "What do you expect when you introduce that kind of rhetoric into an adult conversation?" he asks. 

"In my opinion, Keri is the most insecure person I've ever met. She does this so that she can push me and that I will react, and then she

goes to Brian and says, 'Oh, your mother did this,' and then he's on her side," Patti says.

Asked for her thoughts, Keri says, "I do not try to push her buttons at all. I have tried to walk on eggshells, basically, around her, watching everything I say. Everything I say to her she takes out of context."

"She says that you scream at her on the phone, ‘You will not talk to Brian.' You won't let her talk to him on the phone. That you have said, ‘You are a horrible mother and [your daughter] Taylor will hate you like your other two kids do,'" Dr. Phil says to Keri.

"That is not true," Keri replies. "I asked her not to get Brian i
nvolved. If she had something to say, to say it to me."


"Did you or did you not say, 'You are a horrible mother, and your daughter will hate you like your other two kids do'?" Dr. Phil probes.


"No. I never said she was a horrible mother," Keri maintains.


"Why did you tell us that?" Dr. Phil asks Patti.

"She said that to me," Patti says.

"Somebody's not telling the truth here," Dr. Phil says.

Dr. Phil reads e-mails that Patti has sent Keri. "You say, ‘I hope you said everything you wanted to say to me today, because it's the last chance you'll ever have. I'm done with you. You are the rudest, most disrespectful a**hole I have ever met. If you're going to keep the boys

from me, just go ahead and get it over with. That will complete your agenda. You know karma; you're going to get it three-fold. You're nothing but a piece of you-know-what. This is your day, Trailer Park. I hope you enjoy it. When you go to church, you better say a bunch of extra prayers, because I hope you go to hell,'" he says.

"I said those things, and I regret saying them," Patti admits.

"She regrets it, but she means it," Keri says.

"I regret it because I don't want my grandchildren to know I said
those rude things to anybody," Patti says. "But she pushes my buttons, and she knows exactly what she's doing."

Dr. Phil reads more from the e-mails Patti has written to Keri, and he points out that Patti had plenty of time to think about her e-mail and read it over before she sent it. "When you write this kind of stuff to another human being, what do you predict the outcome is going to be?"

"It's not good, and I'm absolutely wrong to do it," Patti admits.


Dr. Phil points out that Patti is not answering his question. "Do you think that when you do what is essentially character assassination " you call somebody names, you demean them, you put them down " what do you think anybody with any self-respect or self-esteem is going to do?" he asks.

"Fight back or stay away from that person," Patti says.

"It's either going to disintegrate and get into violence," Dr. Phil says. 

Dr. Phil addresses Keri. "You said you're afraid she's going to have you killed."

"I think she wants revenge," Keri says, noting that in the past Patti has said that she could have people killed.

"That is untrue. That is so asinine," Patti says.

Keri maintains that Patti said that in the past. Patti says that Keri is making things up. They bicker.

"I went to my husband and said that I was worried when she said that," Keri says.

"Why do you even come here if you don't want to be honest about this?" Dr. Phil asks Patti.

"I'm honest," Patti says. "That's why I get myself in trouble all the time because I'm brutally honest. She's the person who says things on the phone and says disgusting things to me. I'm not afraid to put it in an e-mail or say it to her. That way she covers herself."

"I've had one conversation on the phone with you where it was heated in an argument. Other than that, I have not," Keri says.

"So you're just reacting to her?" Dr. Phil asks Patti. She agrees.

Dr. Phil addresses Brian. "Do you agree with that?" he asks.

"Early on in this, I tried to stay out of it, and up until recently I tried to stay out of it," Brian says. "I see the e-mails back and forth, and I s

ee my mother won't hold any punches."


"You have said that you're mother can't get along with anybody in the family," Dr. Phil says. "I think that if there is a problem with an in-law, if you've got a problem with your mother, then it's your job to fix it." The same goes for Keri if her mother was causing a problem. "You're the one who has the history here." He asks Brian, "Have you said to your mother in the past that marrying [Keri] was a mistake?"

"No, I never said that," Brian replies.

"He said that," Patti says.

"Boy, we ain't got anybody here telling the truth," Dr. Phil says.

Dr. Phil reminds the family that they can't change what they don't acknowledge. "You think you're right," Dr. Phil says to Patti.

Patti explains her side. "I'm not right to say those horrible things to anybody," she admits. "I don't want to be in their business."

"You said you're going to take them to

court," Dr. Phil says.

"I know that grandparents have rights," Patti says.

"No, actually they don't," Dr. Phil tells her. "I'm no attorney, but I've spent a lot of years in the litigation arena, and I don't believe that with both biological parents living and well that you have any right to spend one second out of one minute of one day with their children."

"I thought grandparents had rights to be able to see their grandchildren, because I just feel like I have a right to see them and they have a right to see me," Patti says.

"You don't have that right. That is a privilege and it is a privilege that follows reasonable, supportive, consistent interaction," Dr. Phil tells her. He addresses Keri and Brian. "Your children have a need for extended family in their life," he says. To Patti he continues, "I support you having a relationship with those children, and I hope that you would figure out a way to make that happen. Those children need you in their life. You need them in your life. There's nothing but good, strong, healthy things that can come from grandparents being in the lives of their grandchildren." 

Dr. Phil asks Patti, "What would [Keri] have to do in order for you to get happy and peaceful?"

Patti addresses Keri. "You would have to stop pushing and attacking me and Taylor. Taylor's a child. She doesn't need to b

e belittled and have her self-esteem attacked all the time to feed your insecurity," she says.

"Have you ever seen me attack Taylor?" Keri asks Patti. "It's all hearsay. And I'm sorry, but I think she's been warped by you. You have admitted to telling her, since she was a small child, that I was a bitch."

Dr. Phil addresses Keri. "Have you told Taylor that she was stupid and retarded?"

"Absolutely not," Keri says.

"Taylor said she has," Patti interjects.

"Well, Taylor is telling you a story, because the way Taylor gets attention from you is to say bad things about me, because she knows how you feel about me," Keri says to Patti.

Dr. Phil addresses Patti. "I think you have a good heart, and I think you are well-intended, but I think you are very misguided," he says. He points out that Brian has said that Patti can't get along with anyone in her family, but she is saying she has fine relationships with her family members.

Dr. Phil continues with Patti. "By the way, you don't get a vote on how [Keri] parents. You don't get a vote on how she marries your son," he says.

"I accept that he's married to her and she's the mother of my grandchildren," Patti says.

"I don't think you do, because you're taking her inventory all the time,

" Dr. Phil disagrees.

Dr. Phil addresses Brian. "You have to be the leader in your family, particularly in this situation. There needs to be a set of boundaries invoked here. There needs to be some rules and some guidelines," he tells him. "You have to really keep it narrow and compartmentalize things." 


"We need to do what we can for these kids. I don't want them

affected by all of this," Patti says.

Patti has recently started seeing a counselor, so Dr. Phil tells her, "Maybe that counselor is a place to start working out how you can put some impulse control in, turn your e-mail off. You want to stop writing things like that because once you write those things, they're out there forever."

Dr. Phil reminds Brian that it's his job to manage the relationship between his mother and his wife. To Keri he says, "Your job is to mother and protect your children and nurture your marriage. If she folds into that, that's great." To Patti he says, "You're going to have to figure out a way to get along here, or you're going to be on the outside looking in, however unfair that may be."

All parties agree to work on the relationship.