Pushy Parents?: David and Deandra
Dr. Phil has advice for learning to bond with a child you don't like.
"My wife and I are determined to raise a superkid," says David, who is married to Deandra and has a 22-month-old daughter, Madelyn. They have spent thousands of dollars buying Madelyn every Baby Einstein video, making their house free of mold and mildew, and they've added a water purification system so she's bathing in safe water. Madelyn goes to swimming class and gymnastics and she is learning Spanish and sign language. Every day Deandra works on counting with Madelyn and they play the piano. "Madelyn is more advanced than most children in virtually every way."

They also have her on a strict diet. "Madelyn is a vegan. I won't give her animal products and I won't give her refined sugar," Deandra explains, noting that she still breast-feeds Madelyn because they both enjoy it and it's a bonding experience. David has even considered using an artificial breast plate for breast-feeding Madelyn. Deandra has also refused to immunize Madelyn. "There are animal ingredients in immunizations which is totally against everything that we stand for."

Madelyn and Deandra sleep together on the bed while David sleeps on the couch by himself. "It's another sacrifice that my wife and I have made to ensure that Madelyn is getting the proper care," David explains.

Not everyone in their family accepts the way they are raising Madelyn.
"David and Deandra need to lighten up. Overprotection of a child can be detrimental," says Susie, David's mom. She doesn't like

that Madelyn is still breast-fed, and she worries about her because she has not been immunized. "I think it's a risk. Madelyn could be exposed to something that an immunization could have prevented," she explains. Susie thinks her granddaughter is smart, but says, "I don't believe that Madelyn is a gifted child."


Deandra defends her decisions. "My parenting approach is what I call attachment parenting," she says. "She's with me all the time.

I tend to her every need. I've probably never been away from her more than two hours since she's been born." Up until four months ago, neither of the grandparents were allowed to watch Madelyn because David and Deandra were concerned they would endanger her. "My dad would like to give her a bowl of ice cream," Deandra says. "It's brought me to tears many times, knowing that someone would sneak behind my back and do something that I'm against."


Deandra tells Dr. Phil: "No criticism will ever stop me ... but how do I get my family and friends to see that I'm making the right choices for my child?"

"Do you really care what the family thinks?" Dr. Phil asks. "If you truly are convicted that this is the right thing to do, are you OK with the criticism?"


"It's the sabotaging that I'm not OK with," Deandra explains. "Someone trying to sneak things into her diet, it's not OK. It could

make her sick."


A surprised Dr. Phil asks them if they really think their family would do something like that.


"Honestly, I think it's a possibility," David replies.


Dr. Phil reveals that their former pediatrician was going to turn them into the Department of Child and Family Services for refusing to immunize Madelyn, and he asks them about their decision.


"To put the toxins in her body that she doesn't need right now, I feel like it isn't my decision to make for her," Deandra explains.


"Let me just say, bottom line, I would have given her the immunizations. But she's not my child. That's your decision, and a lot of people can make a good case for not doing it," Dr. Phil says, and points out that Madelyn is at the bottom 5 percent of weight and height for children her age.


"We don't have any concerns and our pediatrician doesn't have any," Deandra says, explaining that Madelyn is very active.

"I have nutritionists that I work with and they said that this is probably one of the best fed kids in the country. Eating the vegetables and the fruits and all of these things," Dr. Phil points out. "But what are you

going to do if the first time she gets out there in school and she's just cute as a button but just pretty average? Will you be disappointed?"


"I don't think I will be," Deandra says.


"I probably will be," David admits.


"Are you guys losing balance as a couple?" Dr. Phil asks.


"I think so," Deandra replies.


Explaining that David currently sleeps on the couch while Deandra sleeps in the bed with Madelyn, Dr. Phil tells them that they need to take care of their marriage to ensure that Madelyn can have the best chance to succeed in the future. "What greater gift can you give her than a happy well-grounded marriage?" he asks. "If you love your daughter and I know you do, you would take care of your relationship with her father," Dr. Phil says to Deandra. He turns to David: "If you love your wife, and I know you do, if you love your daughter, and I know you do, then you would take care of the family."

Dr. Phil asks David and Deandra how many nights they have spent apart from Madelyn.


"A full night? Never," Deandra replies. "We'd just rather be home."


"We quit going to the movies entirely," David says. "For two hours we'd be worried sick and we'd race home afterward.


"What are you worried about?" Dr. Phil wants to know.


"That something is going to happen that I could have prevented," David tells him.


Dr. Phil asks Susie, David's mother, if she

would ever sabotage their parenting plan.


"I would never," she says. "Plus, I have become a vegetarian just trying to support what they're trying to do with Madelyn. The idea of me sabotaging is just horrific to me. I can't even imagine."
"You can't overprotect to a point that she's a little princess on a pillow, because the day comes that she's going to get out on the playground with other kids and somebody is going to hit her on the head," Dr. Phil points out.


"I'm scared to death of that day," Deandra admits.

"You're running your own agenda instead of socializing your daughter," Dr. Phil says. "What's going to happen if something is going to happen to you? What's going to happen if all of a sudden she has to go out and negotiate with peers and friends and teams and you won't let her

do anything unless you're just there hovering right there over her which robs her of a sense of self-mastery. It robs her of a sense of competency. It can rob her of a lot of things," he explains. He also stresses the importance of taking care of the relationship between the two of them. "You need that connection." He asks David if it bothers him that he doesn't sleep with his wife.


"It's more important to me that I get rested and go to work and that my wife and daughter get a good night's sleep," he replies.


"Therein lies the problem. You need that balance," Dr. Phil reiterates. "You do need good rest, you need good sleep, but you two as a couple need alone time, intimate time, not just sexually but just together, just bonding and caring. And if you really want this family to be healthy long term, trust me, you need to nurture the relationship between the two of you." He also points out that, in his opinion, Madelyn is a bit over-scheduled and being bombarded with too many activities. "But that's up to you. There's nothing toxic about what you're doing," he notes, and warns, "Don't become so obsessed that [your marriage] withers on the vine."