Kids Ask Dr. Phil: Adriana

Strict Parents
Dr. Phil talks to father who is facing debt from his daughter's shopping sprees.
Adriana is 15 and she says her parents treat her like she's 5. They monitor what she wears, won't let her in the hot tub by herself, and she can't see a movie after 7 p.m.

"My parents are smothering me. They're just wicked overprotective," Adriana says.

Her mother, Connie, sees it differently. "You see all these murders, killings on the news. I'm just so afraid that she'll be one of them," she says.

Adriana's father, Frank, agrees. "We know the pitfalls out there. We're just trying to protect her," he says.

Connie admits that it's hard to see her daughter grow up. "She's my only child. I have nobody else. I miss all the cuddling. That's why I got a dog," she laughs.

Adriana wants to live at college an hour away, but her parents try to convince her to commute. They've even promised to buy her a car to keep her at home. She worries that she'll never be able to leave her parents' house. "My biggest fear is that I'm going to be 30 or 40 and I'm going to be single, living with my parents," she confesses. "Dr. Phil, can you help my parents to let me go?"
Dr. Phil observes that Connie and Ralph want their daughter to live at home for the first two years of college. "And you want her commuting an hour from the school she wants to go to and back home?" he asks.

"Yes, we'll buy her a real nice car," Connie laughs.

Dr. Phil lists Connie's rules for Adriana. "You won't let her go to a movie that starts at 7:30 or later because bimbos go to movies, and you won't give her a curfew to stay out. She couldn't go to an overnight camp, a choir camp ... Every Saturday night, you want her to go out to dinner with you and Ralph."

"Yes, and we go out with couples who have girls her age," Connie explains.

Dr. Phil is incredulous. "Are you kidding me? She's 16. You want her to go out with you and your husband? She would rather get a root canal," he says. "I'm wondering if it's really overprotectiveness, or if it's overdependency. Not of her on you, but of you on her."

He acknowledges that Ralph and Connie are loving and caring parents, but says, "She's going to be 16, and you're saying, 'It's not her. It's the environment I don't trust.'"
"When you say, 'It's not her, I don't trust the environment,' what you're saying is, 'I don't trust her to have the ability to make good judgments and recognize danger and risk and problems when she sees them,'" Dr. Phil observes. "If you think you can watch her enough that you can eradicate all of those dangers, all of those risks and all of her potential bad decisions, you cannot do that. And here's a danger that I want you to think about ... You said, 'I want her live at home for two years of college.' Do you know that being two hours in a commute, on a highway, every day for two years is unquestionably the most dangerous thing that she is likely to face?"

Connie replies, "I know."

"So you're saying, 'In order to make me to feel better, in order to make me feel safer, in order to make me feel more peaceful, I'm going to put you in a target-rich environment on a freeway in a car every day for two years,' instead of being nestled in a dorm room with her friends at college.""I talk about the tools of parenting in Family First, and one of the tools is active communication. Another of the tools is to negotiate," Dr. Phil explains. He tells Adriana that she needs to negotiate with her parents by listening to their concerns. "They need to know that you have a plan. They need to know that you will take safety precautions. They need to know that you won't walk from the library
to your dorm room by yourself at 11 at night ... hear their needs and meet their needs. That's how you negotiate."

He warns Connie and Ralph about the danger of keeping their daughter on a short leash. "What you're doing is keeping her so contained that she's just going to be subject to temptation and exploration all at once when she gets out instead of letting her behave in a normal way," he says. He also advises the couple to take safety precaution. "Know the boys, know the homes, know the places, know the rules, set up monitoring, all of that. You've got to let her go out and be a kid."