"I've got an assignment for both of you. Teresa, you said the best advice I gave you was to let go some and give in a little bit. I'm going to put you to that test. Today, for one day, I want you to let Ashlee do whatever she wants to do. So that means she can ride the bus, go to the mall with friends and walk to Brandy's house all by herself. Teresa, you've got to promise to let her go."
Ashlee explains how it felt seeing her mother so emotional. "She had tears in her eyes, and I was about to cry too. I was upset because I don't like her being upset."
"It was torture in that van, just sitting there [wondering] who could be lurking around the corner, or who could be watching her," Teresa recalls. "How am I going to know if she's talking to a stranger on the bus or not? People are beat up on a bus and nothing happens. I do trust Dr. Phil, but when he said that she was able to do whatever she wanted, I thought, â€˜Are you crazy?'"
Ashlee shares her thoughts after the experiment. "The whole time I was gone, I was thinking, â€˜Is she freaking out?' But at the same time, I was like, â€˜I'm here to have fun, getting to do something I've never done before.'"
"When Ash walked through that door after going on that bus and I saw that she was safe, I was just completely relieved," Teresa admits. "I want her to be able to do what she did today, but the fear still overcomes me."
Ashlee expresses gratitude to Dr. Phil. "Thank you for letting me have the experience to do it, because I know this probably won't happen for a couple more years," she says.
Dr. Phil reiterates that Teresa thinks Ashlee is less experienced than other 14-year-olds. "How is she going to overcome her naivete?" he asks. "I think we need to be very protective of our children. You need to be very cognizant. You need to know where they are, when they're doing different things, who they're with," he explains. "You have to understand that this fear is all about you. It's not about her. But she's the one who's going to pay for it. You've had some situations in your life before where you felt out of control, panicked. And I truly believe that you are experiencing a degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and that keeps coming back and haunting you, and you're seeing a snake under every rock. You're afraid of everything. You don't even trust your own husband to watch your daughter."
"That's why I need to know how I can overcome this fear so they don't get harmed," Teresa says. She still blames herself for briefly losing Ashlee at an aquarium when she was younger. "I was supposed to be watching her, and for a split second I wasn't, and then she was gone."
"And so the pendulum has swung all the way over to the other way where you've got her on a short leash. You understand the day is going to come when she is going to get off the leash? And when she does, you're going to say, â€˜I did not listen. I did not prepare.' I truly believe that you are experiencing some anxieties and some Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that you need to resolve personally," Dr. Phil explains. "I'm going to offer to arrange for you to have some professional help in doing that. The good news is, this is such a resilient, delightful spirit, that I don't think she is a crippled young lady at this point, mentally, emotionally or socially."
He also offers to get Ashlee involved in Impact Personal Safety, which provides personal defense classes over a six week period with a padded mock assailant.