Parenting Gone Bad: Lito, Jill, Ally

Swearing and Yelling
Dr. Phil talks with parents who take their discipline too far.
Lito is fed up with his wife Jill's cursing and yelling at their kids, especially toward his daughter Ally.

"With my dad I feel loved. With Jill, I feel like the stepchild," says 14-year-old Ally.
Jill admits to yelling and cursing at the kids, saying that if they speak to her in a negative way, she is not going to sit back and listen. She also feels like Ally disrespects her because she's not her biological mom.

Jill explains, "I don't think we're here because of the language I use, I think we're here because me and my husband can't agree on how to raise these children."

Lito and Jill both agree that this has impacted their marriage, and say that if they do not come to a compromise, they will have to discuss divorce.

Lito asks Dr. Phil, "I need you to bust my wife on how she verbally abuses our children."

Dr. Phil asks Jill, "Are you here to defend this or change this?"

"I think I'm here to change this whole situation. I can tone down the language, but I don't think that's going to change this whole situation," Jill explains.

Dr. Phil lists off some of the things that Jill has said to her daughter: "'You're f-ing crazy. You're not f-ing using your mind. Get off your ass and figure it out for yourself. There's the door, don't like it, leave. You can't do anything right. You better do it or I'm going to grab a wooden spoon. You're going to end up just like your mother in the projects. You're a loser.'"

Jill admits to using every curse word imaginable, but says that she doesn't do it as a put down, and never threatens her daughter.

Dr. Phil asks, "As a responsible parent, what do you think that adds to the mix? Do you do this because you think it's productive?"

Jill explains, "No. I do it to get her attention. To get her to snap out of it."

"You also admit screaming right in her face?" Dr. Phil asks Jill.

"I'm talking loudly," Jill explains. "I don't know about screaming."

Dr. Phil says, "These are your words, and if you're running from it now, it must be because you think it's wrong when you hear it objectively."

Jill answers, "I recognize it's counterproductive. Changing it is a little bit more difficult."

Dr. Phil explains to Jill that even though she was treated similarly growing up, this is not a normal relationship and she does not have the right to treat her children like this.

Dr. Phil explains to Jill, "Parent means protector. Parent means to nurture, to guide, to model, to love, to comfort, and yes, to discipline. It means all those things, but parent first and foremost is protector."

"Well he does all that," Jill says pointing to her husband. "I'm always the bad person."

Lito explains that he is always caught in the middle of Jill and the children, and he wants things to change.

"My family is everything to me. I had to do everything, instant, right away, to stop it now," he says. "I seriously want to make sure that the habits we're going to start from here on are going to be beneficial for the family and for our children."

Dr. Phil asks Jill if she considers Ally to be her child.

Jill answers, "Biologically, she isn't. He has had a 12-year bond with her. She's lived in my home for 10 months, and he expects that I'm going to have the same kind of communication in 10 months."

"You've got a funny way of closing that gap," Dr. Phil responds.

In a video piece Ally explains, "I just feel like she always looks at me, and that look in her eye tells me I'm never going to be good enough for her ... If I had one wish, it would be for me and Jill to have that mother-daughter relationship that all the others have."

Jill responds, "I think it would be great to be able to have a mother-daughter relationship."

"It starts from you," Lito explains. "She wants it. You need to open it up. We are the parents, they look up to us."

Jill responds, "But you need to facilitate it in a way. You don't do that."

Dr. Phil steps in: "You're standing there and yelling and screaming and cussing and threatening these kids, and then you criticize the fact that he tries to give them a soft place to fall!"

Dr. Phil stresses to Jill the gravity of the situation.

"The only thing holding you together is anger. You are venting that anger there because you can. I'm asking you to stop trying to be right, and change what you're doing. What you're doing is destructive. It causes children to hate themselves, it causes them to be confused, it causes them to have all kinds of internal dialogue that demeans them and puts them down, and causes them to feel bad about who they are."

"It's kind of like burning your hand. You can get burned in a half a second and it hurts for a month, and it's scarred for life," Dr. Phil explains.

At the end of the show, Dr. Phil asks Jill what she has learned from the other guests.

Jill says, "I don't mean to scar anyone for life. I want a mother-daughter relationship. I just don't know how that is going to work when he's saying 'yes,' and I'm still the policeman. Where do I go from there?"
Dr. Phil replies, "The two of you have to sit down and make an agreement ... Come up with a plan that both of you can be excited about. You've got to turn down the rhetoric ... You have to realize your words are powerful with this young girl. She needs a connection with a female role model in her life."

Jill especially needs to stop saying negative things to Ally about her biological mom. "You're cutting her roots out from under her and then you give her nowhere else to go," Dr. Phil explains. "The psychological ramifications are really complex and far reaching."

"I had no idea. It seems like it goes in one ear and out the other," Jill says.

Dr. Phil sends her home with a copy of Closing The Gap, written by his son Jay, to get her started on the right track with Ally.