Invasive In-laws: Wanda, Ernie, Carol and Kerry

Invasive In-laws: Wanda, Ernie, Carol and Kerry
Dr. Phil talks to a woman who fears that her husband's parents are trying to break up her marriage.
"My mom and my mother-in-law have been fighting since the day of my wedding, and it is driving me crazy," complains Kerry, who is married to Ernie. His mother, Carol, and her mom, Wanda, never see eye to eye about their grandchildren.

Wanda explains her feud with Carol: "She's so dominating to Kerry, and if she doesn't get her way, she'll go behind Kerry's back."

Carol sees it another way. "I don't have a relationship with Wanda because we have nothing in common. She calls me a bitch and a c**t,"" she reports.

The in-laws even got into a screaming match at their granddaughter's birthday party. "One of them called the other one an 'F-ing c**t" in front of a whole roomful of little kids," Kerry reveals. She now has to take precaution so that the in-laws don't come face-to-face at special occasions.

Kerry and Ernie constantly argue about whose parent is right " they even fought about it on their wedding night. "It drives me crazy all the time," Ernie admits.

Kerry says she may have to take drastic measures. "If things keep going the way they are, the worst-case scenario for me would be to cut both of the grandmothers out of my daughters' lives," she says.
Ernie says he's never been able to get along with his mother-in-law Wanda. "I don't know why she doesn't like me. I get along well with the rest of the family," he says. "On my wedding night, she called me a son-of-a-bitch. I've never met anybody as rude."


Wanda says Ernie's habits are to blame. "Ernie is almost a clone of his mother. He's lazy, grungy, sloppy. Always in dirty jeans
and a dirty old nasty flannel shirt," she says. "I tried to talk Kerry out of the marriage. I said, 'Kerry, you're too good. You got too much going for you.'"

Ernie says, "She just likes to point out my flaws. I definitely believe that Wanda believes that I'm not good enough for her daughter. I could have $20 million and I still wouldn't be good enough."

Wanda thinks her daughter's relationship with Ernie has taken a toll on her. "It's been quite hard for me because I've seen Kerry decline mentally. It just breaks my heart," she says.
Turning to Wanda in the audience, Dr. Phil asks, "What's your reaction to seeing some of the things you've said?"

"I'm very sorry that I was swearing at Carol in front of the kids," Wanda replies.

Dr. Phil prods, "But you've also said 'You shouldn't marry him,' and you were not supportive of the union."

"I think Kerry had married him on the rebound and I've accepted Ernie since then."

Dr. Phil asks Carol what her role is in the conflict. "I have no relationship with her other than through the kids. I understand that she gets upset because I have the kids," she explains. "I feel sorry for Kerry having to referee this thing between her mother and herself. Hey, I'm easy."
Kerry sees things another way. "I can't tell my mother-in-law no, she can't take the kids," she tells Dr. Phil.

"Kerry, you just told me no at Christmastime. Did I have a big fit about it?" Carol presses.

"Yeah, and I've paid for it. Ernie and I have been fighting about it since then," Kerry says.

Carol counters: "That's between you and Ernie, not between me and you."

"Why did you call up Ernie and complain to him about it?" Kerry questions.

"I didn't call Ernie and complain."

When Dr. Phil asks Ernie if his mom called him to complain, Ernie answers, "I don't remember her calling me and complaining." Kerry looks at her husband in disbelief. Ernie continues, "The whole thing is bullsh*t."
Dr. Phil asks the in-laws, "You guys got in a big fight at their wedding, correct?"

Wanda clarifies: "The night before their wedding."

Carol chimes in, "No, it wasn't the night before. It was the day of their wedding," as the audience laughs. "It was not the night before! I'm getting tired of the lies."

Dr. Phil wants the two women to understand how ridiculous the argument sounds. "Having been through a wedding, I know that that's supposed to be a day of celebration, a day of creating a union. It's about the husband. It's about the wife. It's about the bride. It's about the groom. It ain't about you!" he says sternly. "It is selfish and self-serving to come in and run your own agenda and get in a big fight in the middle of their day of celebration. What gives you guys the right to come in and say, 'This is going to be about us'? ... How do you have the right to do that?"Turning to Kerry, Dr. Phil says, "Whether it's the night before, the day of, the day after, doesn't it take the joy out of it?"

Kerry replies, "Yeah, we fought about this our wedding night."

Addressing the in-laws, Dr. Phil says, "They're fighting because you two don't know when to shut up and sit down."

When Carol makes a sound of disgust, Dr. Phil turns to her. "You
may be completely right that she was totally out of line ""

Cutting him off, Carol says, "OK. That's all I wanted you to say."

Dr. Phil falls back in his chair in astonishment, as Wanda looks aghast. Turning to Carol, Dr. Phil says, "I'm not saying that you started it. What I'm saying is there comes a time where you just have to say, 'You know what? This just isn't about me, and I'm just going to step back and let discretion be the better part of valor. I'm going to step back and say, "You know what? If I think that was rude, uncaring, unkind, my feelings being hurt aren't near as important as their joy and their excitement."'"

"I've said that for six years," Carol explains. "If she wants to cut me out of her life, do it."
"Doesn't this hurt the children?" Dr. Phil asks Kerry.

She replies, "Yep. I feel awful over it. I would love for them to have relationships with their grandmothers. They both do wonderful things for my girls."

Dr. Phil underscores her point. "You've heard me say how important I think extended family is ... There's no love like a grandparent's love for a kid. Because you don't have to do any of the tough stuff. You can just love them and that's just such a great thing for them to have. I wouldn't want you to do anything that would take the grandparents out of the children's lives or take the children out of the grandparents' lives. We want to do everything we can do preserve that."

He tells Kerry and Ernie that they need to step up their parental duties. "It is your job to protect your children. It is your job to not allow your children to be in a tug-of-war," he says. "It is your job to not allow your children to be manipulated or in any way emotionally damaged by being in the middle of a war zone, because it can burn their little psychological skins."
Wanda and Carol need to understand that being in their granddaughters' lives is a privilege, not a right. "It is a privilege that you must earn by conducting yourself in what I call a fiduciary role. That means you put the children's interests above your own," Dr. Phil tells them. "You don't use them as pawns in a power struggle. You don't use them to be right. You put their interests above your own ... I'm going to tell you guys, if you care about those children, the two of you will bury the hatchet. The two of you will stop trying to be right and start trying to forgive the other person and find some way to love and support one another. Because if you don't, you're going to wind up being cut out of these lives. You're going to wind up cheating those children out of you. I just really ask you to think about burying the hatchet and trying to find a way to be there for each other."