Mommy Confessions: Jessica

Mom on the Brink
Dr. Phil plays a video of Jessica standing in her bathroom yelling at her 7-year-old son, Kristoff. Dr. Phil interrupts the tape before its completion and turns to the mom of six.
 
"So that makes sense to you?" he asks, indicating her discipline techniques.
 
"I don't know what to do with this child," she replies.
 
"I'm just going to tell you up front, there is no theory under which that is going to work. There is no theory under which that makes sense," Dr. Phil says. "You had to know that was going to be my attitude about this."
 
"Of course," she says.
 
Jessica's 10-year-old daughter captures footage of Jessica pouring hot sauce in Kristoff's mouth and standing him in a cold shower.
 
When the videotape ends, mouths hang open, and many audience members wipe away tears.
 
[AD]"I need to say this and be very clear. We didn't shoot that tape. Your daughter shot that tape," Dr. Phil reminds Jessica. "Because if I had a camera crew in your home shooting that, and they didn't intervene and stop it, there would be something seriously wrong with my camera crew. I think anybody would look at that and say that that is absolutely outrageous, it is over the top, it is abusive, it is inefficient, it is out of control. I'm sorry. I just have to tell you the truth."
 
"You're completely entitled to your opinions," Jessica says. "That's why I'm here."
"I'm glad you are here, because I'm telling you, that has to stop," Dr. Phil warns Jessica. "If you say you've been through everything " you've tried time-outs, you've done this, you've done that " if you're down to that, then you need to give the child up, because you are out of control. Somebody in the audience yelled out, ‘That is evil.' I don't believe that. I don't believe you're an evil person. I think you are misguided. I think you think you're doing the only thing you know how to do, but that is totally unacceptable."
 
"Then tell me what I need to do with him," Jessica says in frustration.
 
Dr. Phil explains what Jessica means in the videotape when she says Kristoff "pulled three cards" at school. Green means good job, yellow is a warning, blue is a time-out, orange means removal from class and red means a trip to the principal's office. "He had three cards that day. What were they for?" Dr. Phil asks.
 
"He was throwing pencils, he was sword fighting with another child, and he was acting out in another class," Jessica replies.
 
[AD]"Your theory is, based on that, he then lied about it? He didn't tell you he got the three?"
 
"Correct."
 
"Let me tell you, I would lie 100 out of 100 times. You are teaching him to lie," Dr. Phil points out. "Based on results, what you're doing isn't working."
 
"So tell me what will," Jessica says. "I will be happy to abandon all of that."
 
"I believe you are desperate for answers," Dr. Phil notes.
 
Jessica describes her discipline techniques.
In an interview, Jessica's husband, Gary, explains how he feels about his wife's methods for disciplining Kristoff. "Jessica is more frustrated than angry, because we've added more kids to the house. When Jessica gets frustrated, I see her having a shorter temper. Kristoff has not reacted to much of our discipline," he says. "The idea for hot sauce came up from my wife talking to a friend of hers. In the military, we use cold showers for discipline, basically to get people's attention. When Kristoff gets a cold shower, he pays attention at the moment. I feel like I'm strict with my kids."
 
When the videotape ends, Dr. Phil turns to Jessica. "You believe that, in fact, he has reactive attachment disorder," he says, referring to her adopted son.
 
"Correct," she answers.
 
[AD]"Is that your diagnosis, or has he been seen by a professional who has rendered that diagnosis?"
 
"He was seen by a professional for a while, but I don't know if that professional diagnosed him as reactive attachment disorder," Jessica replies.
 
"He is a twin, and his brother is not like this at all," Dr. Phil points out.