Kids' First Sleepover

Kids' First Sleepover
Dr. Phil challenges an overprotective couple to allow their children to have their first sleepover.
Kim and Ken
"My husband and I have never left our children alone with anyone else their entire lives," says Kim, whose kids are 2 and 4. She also admits to sleeping with her children instead of with her husband because they may need her.

"When they're out of my sight for a second I begin to freak out," says Ken.

Family and friends have offered to watch the children so that Kim and Ken can have a night out alone, but the couple is afraid that something would happen to their children. They also refuse to go to events where children aren't invited. Kim only attended her sister's wedding for an hour because it was an adult-only affair."I feel I'm neurotic about it and I would like to feel more comfortable leaving the kids with a sitter or a family member," says Kim. "But ... we think that the children might get upset and then we don't end up doing anything." "What is wrong with children being upset?" asks Dr. Phil. "Don't they need to learn that they can get upset and they can get over it and the world won't cave in?" "Well, I think I'll miss them just as much as I think they would miss me," says Kim. "Are you doing this out of concern for their safety?" asks Dr. Phil. "Or are you doing this to feed your own anxiety and your own need? I get a sense that this isn't about the children and their safety at all ... instead it's about feeding your need to feel needed." "You are probably absolutely correct," says Kim.

Dr. Phil convinces Kim and Ken to have his cameras follow them as they leave their kids overnight for the very first time with Kim's sister Gail.

6:45 p.m.: Kim and Ken drive to Gail's house, which is approximately five minutes away.
6:46 p.m.: Kim stops in the driveway because she thinks she sees her children through the window. She wonders aloud if they are calling for her and then cries when it's time to get in the car and drive away.
6:55 p.m.: Kim calls Gail from the car to check up on the kids.
8:30 p.m: Kim calls Gail again to check up on the kids.
10:00 p.m.: Kim and Ken have their first dinner alone since 1998.
10:30 p.m.: Kim calls to check up on her kids again.
11:30 p.m.: Kim and Ken return home.
5:00 a.m.: Kim and Ken wake up.
6:00 a.m.: They pick up the kids early.
"It's normal to love your children," says Dr. Phil. "But everything you guys are saying is about you ...You're saying, 'I need to be needed. If you don't need me every minute of my life, I'm worth nothing' You are milking them like a cow ... You are cheating them out of the development of self-confidence and independence."

Dr. Phil continues, "They need to become fully functioning people. If you smother them like this, you will create emotional cripples. They need to learn that Mom and Dad can go away and they come back. And so they realize that while you were gone, they did fine. They have a chance to observe themselves being confident and independent and self-reliant. And they get the value of extended family who put up with those ridiculous phone calls. You were two minutes down the street and you called to ask if they were OK!"
"It 's not a question of if your children are going to break off or separate from you. The question is when. I don't think the origin of your fear is their safety. I think the fear is that if you're not needed and they aren't depending on you, that your worth and value goes down. And I think that is what you are afraid of."

"I think you are absolutely correct," says Kim.

"Then don't make them pay for your pathology," says Dr. Phil. "Work on that yourself. If you have to go out of the car and scream in the parking lot the two hours they are at daycare, then you need to do that. Or you need to go get help and figure out what psychologists called secondary narcissism — where your total life and value is tied up with someone else. Both of you are obviously very loving and caring parents, but one of the best things you can do in loving your children is to allow them to develop into the young people they will become."