On the Outs with In-Laws: Moving Forward
Dr. Phil addresses Morgan. "This is your mother. She, as far as this relationship is concerned, is your responsibility ... It's your responsibility to fix this, and if that means cutting off contact,
then you've got to cut off contact. If it means you have to enforce the law, you have to enforce the law. The point is going to come where you're going to have to do something to say, 'This is my family. I will not let my mother, aunt, uncle, friend, anybody else come in and create problems in my relationship.' You need to let [Anna-Laura] know that, yes, you did make mistakes. You do not have divided loyalty. You are committed to this union. You are committed to parenting your children. You are committed to doing the things that you have to do as a man. And that is your job to step up and do that."

Dr. Phil faces Janice. "You have to acknowledge that you have taken some really bad steps in this situation, true?" he asks.


"I have taken bad steps, but they are lying through their teeth," she says, emphatically.

"If just the things you say you did are true, those are violations that are not acceptable in a family dynamic," Dr. Phil tells her. The audience applauds.

"Yes, it was very bad behavior," Janice admits. "But it's nowhere near what they have done to me. I've been embarrassed. I've been drug into court."

"You keep suing us. You're the one taking us to court," Anna-Laura jumps in. She concedes that they took Janice to court when she violated the domestic violence order against her.

Morgan addresses Janice. "Stay away from my family. Stay away from my wife," he tells her. "And Mom, if you ever want to have a hope, and I mean a small hope, of ever re-establishing a relationship with me, you're going to have to drop the lawsuit. It's getting ridiculous."

"It's killing your son. It's hurting your grandchildren," Anna-Laura adds. "You don't care who you hurt."

Janice continues to defend her position, and she and Anna-Laura bicker.

Dr. Phil asks Janice, "What can you do to change this?"

"I don't know what I can do to change this," she replies.

"Stay away from us," Morgan says.

Dr. Phil interrupts the fighting and addresses Janice. "It's clear that these people have resentment toward you," he says to her, and she agrees. "You probably deserve some of that. Would you agree?"

"Yes, I think there's always two sides to every argument," she says. "I have never hit her. I don't stalk her."

Anna-Laura and Morgan interrupt Janice, and Dr. Phil stops the arguing and continues his conversation with Janice. "I want to know if you acknowledge ownership in the fact that this relationship is in trouble," he says, "that you have done things you are not proud of, should not have done, that have contributed to the problems."

"Absolutely," she says.

He addresses Morgan and Anna-Laura. "You recognize, do you not, that this relationship is off track, not working?" he asks.

"Yes, I do," Morgan says.

"And you acknowledge that you participated in that early on to the point that that hurt your wife's feelings?" he continues.

"More than just hurt her feelings," Morgan admits.

Dr. Phil addresses Anna-Laura. "If something doesn't change, you're going to get out to protect yourself because this is just eating you up."

 

"Correct," Anna Laura says.

"If this situation was no longer there — sad, tragic — but if there was no relationship with Mother-in-Law at all, is there a basis for healing this relationship between the two of you?" Dr. Phil asks Anna-L

aura and Morgan.

"Yes," Anna-Laura says. "We love each other. We love our children. In six years, we have never had the chance to have a real marriage, to be a real family."

"Give me the short list of what would have to happen for you to feel decompressed in this relationship," Dr. Phil says to her.

"The lawsuits would need to be dropped," Anna-Laura begins. "I want the hurting of my children to stop. I want the hurting of my husband to stop. This woman isn't dirt to me. I have a mother. I have a family. I don't need a relationship with her."

"I agree with a lot of that," Morgan says. He addresses his mother. "And there's one more item. You've got to quit calling the state police."

 

"I didn't call the state police," Janice says.

Dr. Phil addresses Janice. "Are you willing to do any of these things that these people have asked for in order to have a right to their

peaceful existence and family?"

Janice explains that in the past she has taken care of her grandchildren whenever Morgan and Anna-Laura have asked her and for however long they needed.

"That was then, this is now," Dr. Phil reminds Janice. "I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a relationship with these children, and I understand that, because of your role with them, that they're very dear to you, and that you feel very protective of them, and that you have a lot of emotion invested in them. There are ways, with supervision, that everybody can be peaceful and make sure that the influences in these children's lives are consistent and productive. The question is, are you willing to drop lawsuits? Are you willing to try to cooperate in some way of ending the disputes, and basically leaving these people alone?"

"Basically, I leave these people alone. I don't know what more I can do," Janice says.

"That's not true," Anna-Laura objects. "She doesn't leave us alone."

 

Pointing out that Janice still has litigation pending against Anna-Laura and

Morgan, he asks her, "If we try to find a way to stop those disputes, and try to arbitrate this situation, are you willing to leave these people alone? Not litigate with them, not drive by their house, not engage with them."

 

"I can't do any more than I'm doing," Janice maintains, noting that she doesn't do the things she's being accused of. "I have been made to look like a fool."

"Nobody needs to make you look like a fool," Anna-Laura interjects.

"Hold on, that is not productive," Dr. Phil tells Anna-Laura.

"Let me bring in some professional help, some professional counselors here ... Whatever we have to do to get to the bottom of this, to stop the litigation, and figure out a way that we can broker a peace here." He asks the three if they will step back and let that happen.



"I am willing to do that, provided I am able to see my grandchildren," Janice says.

"Even if it traumatizes them," Anna-Laura interjects.

 

Dr. Phil addresses Anna-Laura. "I'm getting ready to stop this whole thing," he tells her. "I have made a sincere, concerted, resource-rich offer to help this situation. Do you want it or not?"

"I will do anything for my children and my husband," she says.

"I don't know what the ad litem said or didn't say before, but I know what I can bring to bear at this point," Dr. Phil tells the family, "and they won't be bullied by anybody here, I guarantee you. They're going to put the children's best interest first, and we're going to do what we can to see if we can give them a fighting chance in this life."