Meddling Moms: Audrey and Mary

Meddling Moms: Audrey and Mary

"My relationship with my mother is very stressed. My mom controls my actions, the way that I speak around her, and pretty much everything that I do with the kids," says Audrey. "My mom is a drama queen. She blows everything out of proportion."


Her mother, Mary, sees it another way. "Audrey is a spoiled brat," she says. "Audrey does not clean her house, do dishes, wash the floor, do laundry."


Audrey's husband, Matt, wants his mother-in-law to back off. "Mary meddles by telling us how to raise the kids, telling us what kind of a schedule they should be on, what kind of clothes they should wear, what we should be doing with them," he divulges. "Mary dislikes me because, being married five or six times, she doesn't know what a man should be like."


Mary believes her son-in-law can turn violent. "Matt is controlling Audrey. I think Matt has gotten physical with her. I have seen a lot of bruises on Audrey," she says.


"I have never hit Audrey," Matt says simply.


Audrey defends her husband, and calls her mother manipulative. "She would love nothing more than to have complete control of my kids. Social Services was called on Matt and myself. Someone told them that we wrap our children in duct tape, that we lock them in a room, we don't feed them, clothe them, they have dirty diapers. I'm pretty sure it was my mom," she says. "I took my mother to court over this. She needed to learn a lesson. At this point, she either needs to get help, or we're moving, and she's not coming with us."

"Tell me what's happening that is so hard for you to deal with every day," Dr. Phil says.


Tearfully, Audrey replies, "I feel like I'm dealing with all my mom's problems and my problems. I feel like I can't really do anything without worrying about whether or not I'm going to have backlash on her part. I'm afraid to go out with my friends, or have somebody babysit them who she doesn't know because I'm going to get yelled at."


"How old are you?" Dr. Phil asks.


When Audrey says 24, he says, "But you're still worried that you're going to get yelled at by your mom?"


"Yes," she replies.


Turning to Mary, Dr. Phil asks, "Are you over-involved in her life?"

"Definitely," Mary replies. "She doesn't take care of her children. She doesn't take care of herself. She doesn't take care of the house. Matt works eight hours a day. He comes home, and he has to do dishes, do laundry, clean the house and take care of the kids. She does nothing."

Dr. Phil addresses Matt. "Are you complaining about her as a wife?" he asks.

"No," Matt says. "We've had some issues before that we've talked about, but we've worked it out."

"Why is that your business?" Dr. Phil asks Mary.

"My grandkids are my business," Mary replies. "I'm not going to let them get out of bed and eat dry cereal."


Dr. Phil interjects, "Well, you might, because they're not your kids. You understand that you don't have the authority to change that?"


"I want them to be healthy," Mary says.


Dr. Phil consults his notes. "You say, 'I dislike both of them,'" he reads.


"I love them, but I dislike them," Mary clarifies.


"You say, 'Audrey is a spoiled brat, and Matt is a fat ass,'" Dr. Phil reads.


"A fat ass?" Mary says, astonished. Then she concedes with a smile, "All right."

Dr. Phil continues reading his notes. "You said that he isn't a good husband and father," he says.


"I don't think he's the best father. I think he favors one [child] more than the other, as I do," Mary says.


"Did you say, 'I feel like I have the right to tell Audrey what to do and how to keep their house'?" Dr. Phil inquires.


"Yes, I did."


Dr. Phil gives her a perplexed stare. "She is a 24-year-old woman who is married with her own family. Why do you have the right to tell her how to keep house?"


"Would you want your grandkids to live like pigs?" Mary asks, indignant. "Because that's how they live."


"What gives you the right to feel that you have to tell her what to do, and how to keep her house?" Dr. Phil reiterates.


"I guess I don't," Mary says. "And maybe I should butt out."

Dr. Phil says Audrey needs to own up to her role in this situation. "You criticize her for being over-involved and being in your family, but yet, you reach out and pull her in. You ask her advice, you ask for money, you ask for different things," he admonishes Audrey.


"All hours of the night," Mary confirms.


Audrey disputes this. "I don't ask her for money, and I don't ask her for advice," she says.


"You certainly take that money when it's offered, don't you?" Dr. Phil asks.


"Yeah," Audrey says.


"But it comes with strings attached, doesn't it? You know that when you take it. So why do you take it if you don't want the strings that you say are attached when she offers that?" Dr. Phil probes.


"There have been times when we've actually needed it, just to get a bill paid," Audrey replies, through tears.


"Lots of bills paid," Mary corrects. "And I am there whenever you guys ask."

Dr. Phil stares at Matt solemnly. "Are you hitting, and beating, and abusing your wife?" he asks.


"Absolutely not," Matt says.


"Are you dominating and controlling her?"


"Absolutely not," Matt says.


Mary differs on this point. "I think there have been a few times when they've had more than [their share] to drink, and she's come home with bruises," she tells Dr. Phil.


When Audrey shakes her head in denial, Mary raises her voice. "How many times can you fall out of bed, Audrey, and hit your head, and get a black eye?" she asks. "How many times can you trip over the fence that you keep up for the kids?"


"You're not at the house every day. You have no idea how we interact with each other," Audrey replies. "You don't care."


"Yes, I do care," Mary says.


"If you did, you wouldn't say hurtful things," Audrey says, sniffling.


"What does she say that hurts you so badly?" Dr. Phil asks Audrey.


"Just about Matt hitting me, and that's horrible stuff to say. I don't want people looking at Matt like a woman abuser. If he ever touched me, I'd kick the crap out of him," she declares.

Pointing at her daughter, Mary says sternly, "You're not going to sit up here and try to manipulate everybody. You've done that all your life. That's why your dad has never been in your life, because you lie, and you're a manipulator."


"You're right," Audrey says, breaking down. "You're right."


"He doesn't want anything to do with you," Mary maintains. "Nobody does."


"Because I remind him of you!" Audrey shouts.


"Did you just say to your daughter, 'the reason your father is not in your life' is her fault?" Dr. Phil asks Mary.


When Mary nods, Dr. Phil asks, "Do you really mean that? Is that really what you want her to think and feel? You really want her to blame herself for her father not being in her life?"

"I have begged her dad to be in her life. I truly have," she says. "I want her to have a father."


Dr. Phil reiterates, "Do you really want her going through this, blaming herself for her father not being in her life, or were you just trying to hurt her?


Mary pauses. Finally, she says, "Trying to hurt her."

"Are you the best influence for the kids?" Dr. Phil asks Mary.


She responds, "At this point, I would like it if we could all get into a parenting class " "


Audrey interjects, "I don't need a parenting class."


"But 'we' aren't parents. These are the parents, and they've got to do it," Dr. Phil reminds Mary. "I value the importance of extended family. I think it is critically important for children to be able to go see Grandma, to be able to have that unconditional love ... That's a wonderful place to be, and you're about to blow that really bad."


Dr. Phil notes that Mary hasn't been a shining example of a wife. "How many times have you been married?" he inquires.


"Five," Mary replies.


"That's not a great resume for having all the answers," Dr. Phil notes.


Dr. Phil says that he will provide parenting resources for Audrey and Matt if they need them. He doesn't advise the couple to cut Mary out of their lives, however, he does suggest that they set up boundaries with her.


"Like it or not, [Audrey's] grown. She's married; she's gone," he tells Mary. "If she went and got a loser, somebody whom you don't like, sorry, that's whom she chose."