Violent Behavior
Dr. Phil speaks with guests who wonder if they're making extreme parenting mistakes.
Kristine (left) lives with her mom, Karron, and her sister, Kathy. All three women help raise Kristine's 9-year-old son. It is a very volatile family dynamic, with all of the women disagreeing on how to discipline him. Kristine knows it's not a healthy environment for her son. "He has witnessed a lot of physical assault between my mother, my sister and myself," she admits.


Kristine spoke with her son's teacher and learned he's a very good student. "But at home, he has no respect for me, or my mother or my sister," says Kristine, who is worried about her son. "Because of the fighting and the environment he's growing up in, he's becoming angry and violent."


One afternoon when she came home, Kristine learned that her son had killed their pet hamster, Zippy. "I don't know why he killed Zippy. I've asked him and he'll just cry and say he doesn't want to talk about it. He said, 'I meant to torture him, but I didn't mean to kill him,'" she explains.


"I fear I have done damage with my son," says Kristine, who worries her behavior is "creating a monster." She turns to Dr. Phil for help with her family.

Dr. Phil arranges for cameras to be set up in their home to see exactly what goes on.


In one instance, Kristine's son tells his mom he's not hungry and she screams at him, "Sit down, now! You hounded me for food! So there you go!" He puts his head down and cries, and after a minute, Kristine hugs him.


In another instance, Kathy yells at him, "I'm going to kick your teeth in! So shut your face! You go get your own damn bread." Karron then yells at Kathy about the way she talks to her nephew.


Another screaming match between Kristine and Kathy happens off camera, while he stands at the kitchen table.


Dr. Phil asks the three women what their reaction is to seeing the home footage.


"I feel like crying," says Kristine (middle). "I think that we're all pretty used to it because that's how we've lived for years."


Kathy (right) says, "We're decent people. We have good, big hearts, giving hearts. When I see that, it's disgusting."


Karron (left) says it's an everyday occurrence. "It's heartbreaking. It's hard to live there."


Dr. Phil wants to know how they justify their behavior. "I find it shocking and appalling what you are doing to that child," he says.

Kathy explains that a lot of the time she's reacting to something her nephew is doing or saying.


"You're an adult!" Dr. Phil tells her.


"I don't know how to react, Dr. Phil. I've tried patience, I've tried yelling ... nothing seems to work," says Kathy.


Dr. Phil reads a list of the things they admit to saying in front of the child: "You call each other the 'C' word, you call each other 'F-ing hooker,' 'fat lazy ass,' 'F-ing bitch,' 'lazy bitch,' 'I'll kill you,' 'A-hole,' 'F you,' 'I hate you,' 'I'm going to hurt you' " to him. You fight physically among yourselves in front of him, and as soon as he killed a hamster, you bought him another one right away. Is there nobody here who has had the sensibility and strength to stand up and say, 'This has got to stop'?"


"Yeah, we've all done that many times," says Kathy. "The only thing I can tell you Dr. Phil, is we realize we have a problem. We were raised in an environment like that and we don't know how to change."

"Now he's currently torturing the family dog, right?" Dr. Phil asks Kristine.


"It's little things," she explains. "It's trying to irritate the dog into coming after him. Like maybe resting on the dog's back too hard, pulling a leg or something like that."


Dr. Phil asks her if she is trying to trivialize what he's doing. "Do you suppose he did that with the hamster before he killed the hamster?"


Kristine admits that he did.


"I mean, come on. It's time you pull your head out," says Dr. Phil. "You don't have the right to be doing what you're doing. This has got to stop. You don't have the right to have that young man if you don't straighten up and straighten up right now!"


The audience applauds.

"The first thing you've got to do when the boy is around is shut up," Dr. Phil tells them. "You just have to shut up. You have to tell yourself, 'I am going to be mature enough to shut up about this, and if I have a problem with my sister, we can go outside, we can go for a drive, we can wait until he's in school and we can sit down and talk about it.'"


Dr. Phil tells them what the future holds if they continue this way: "Make no mistake: What you're seeing now is a precursor to very serious violence against other people. Human beings " not animals " human beings. What else would be predicted is he's going to burn your house down in the very near future. If you smell smoke, you better take it seriously."


Dr. Phil points them toward a solution. "He needs immediate help. You people need immediate help, and I suggest the first thing you do," he says to Kristine, "is you need to quit living with these two. It just simply isn't working. Because you two don't belong together with this child in between you ... You need some ongoing help. I will arrange that help for you. And if you are not safe with that young man, then you need to put him in foster care. You need to do whatever it takes to protect him."

"I'm not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. I'm just trying to get you to maybe take the first responsible step that you've taken," Dr. Phil tells the women.


"If I get you the help, will you grab on with both hands?" Dr. Phil asks Kristine.


"Completely," she agrees.


"And it's going to involve you guys. Will you participate and grab on with both hands?" he asks Kathy and Karron, who agree. "And I'm going to watch this situation very closely. Because if you don't stop this, you're going to see me again. I will not turn a deaf ear to this young man's plight," warns Dr. Phil.