Kids Ask Dr. Phil: Kayla

Kids Ask Dr. Phil: Kayla
A teen wonders if she should let her drug addicted mother back into her life.

"My mom is addicted to crack and heroin. She's in and out of my life all the time," says 15-year-old Kayla. "I was in complete shock when I saw my mom high. I was just appalled. I decided that I would move in with my aunt and uncle," she says. "I wish my mom wouldn't have had me."

Her uncle Steve explains, "In the last 12 years, Kayla has lived in four or five different homes, so she has never had a stable place to
be. I thought we could give her the stability of a family atmosphere."

Kayla had a hard time adjusting to her new home and started acting out. "She'd test us to see if we were going to kick her out," says her aunt Robyn.

Kayla admits that she has major trust issues because she has moved so much, and she was surprised that her relatives embraced her. "The fact that they accepted me unconditionally and let me stay was a huge deal for me. I always feel like I fit in now because we've been through something big," she says. Still, she struggles to define her relationship with her mom, who has served time in prison for drugs and theft. "I feel like she chose drugs over me," she says, turning to Dr. Phil. "Am I better off cutting off my mom completely, or should I try to rebuild my relationship with her?"



Kayla's aunt Robyn explains why it was hard watching the taped piece. "Growing up, she's always felt like she never belonged," she says.

"Why have you taken her in?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Because we love her. I met her when she was 6, and she just clung to me from the very first time I met her," she recalls, smiling. "She needed to be loved. She needed to feel security."

[AD]To Kayla, Dr. Phil asks, "How does it feel to hear her say those things?"

"It feels awesome because I've never really had that," she replies. "They're so welcoming in their house and it's just so peaceful."

"You feel pulled. You still feel this connection to your mother," Dr. Phil observes. "When Mom sobers up and wants to create a mother/daughter relationship, a part of you wants to hear that."

Kayla agrees. "I have always wanted my mom to want me," she admits.

"Drug addiction is a disease. It is subject to relapse and it is resistant to treatment," Dr. Phil explains. "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So if your mother has cycled in and out of this " not for like six months or a year, but year after year, the truth is, she's probably going to continue to do the same thing."

"What do I do?" Kayla questions.

"What you have to do is recognize, you didn't choose this; it has nothing to do with you," Dr. Phil assures her. "I don't want you to say, 'There's something inadequate about me or I would have inspired my mother to be drug-free and stay plugged in to me.' That just simply is not the case. You don't have that power no matter what you do or who you are," Dr. Phil says. "Second, she is your mother. I want you to love her. I want you to support her as a spirit. I want you to support her as a human being, as someone you're connected to biologically. But you have to have major boundaries " with yourself and with her."



Dr. Phil explains, "You have to put up boundaries where you say, 'I will have a relationship with my mother on a day-to-day basis as long as she is clean and sober.' Love your mother. Respect your mother when she does well. Have the relationship that she is capable of having. As soon as you accept that, and embrace the wonderful, loving family that you have, the more stability you'll get in your life."

"So what boundaries should I set? What should I say to her?" Kayla presses.

"You need to say, 'Mom, we can't live together because I don't trust that. I don't want to accept any gifts from you. You don't need to buy me things ... When you're clean and sober and you're not in a toxic relationship, I'm happy to meet you for lunch. I'm happy to spend the day on a Saturday, I'll do whatever, but I'm going to keep my feet on solid ground with people who love me and have provided me a very loving and predictable home ... I'm not telling you that you're dead to me, that I want you out of my life. I'm telling you if you love me, give me some space and do this a day at a time.'"



"You've got to bloom where you're planted, and you're planted with people that are nurturing you so you can," Dr. Phil tells Kayla.

Robyn agrees. "She's staying with us until she graduates or until she finishes college. Whatever she wants. She's got a home with us," she says.

"God bless you for doing just that," Dr. Phil says.