"My son, Jacob, and my husband, Eddie, have had a non-existent relationship for going on, maybe, three years," says Mimi. "I've threatened Eddie to leave the house if they can't get along."
"He's stated to me he hates me, he wishes I never came around, he wishes I had never met his mom," says Ed of his 13-year-old son, but he admits he's not without blame. "I've yelled at him and called him an idiot. I've told him that he's acting like a moron."
Dr. Phil cameras capture Ed and Jacob engaging in multiple verbal confrontations. Ed calls Jacob a fool and tells him he acts like a jerk, that he is going to fail school and that he will amount to nothing. "Prove me wrong," he tells the teen.
Ed admits that he has had physical fights with Jacob. "I have to really restrain myself," he shares. "Jacob has told me that the reason he wasn't back-talking me before was because he was afraid of me ... I do feel as though I have to step on eggshells to try and make sure I don't blow up."
[AD]"When [Ed] starts puffing out his chest, it's kind of like the bully on the playground," Mimi says. "What I really dislike most about Eddie's behavior when he tries to parent Jacob is he starts to argue back as a 13-year-old, kind of like mimicking Jacob."
Ed wants to change the way he interacts. "I don't like having this adversarial relationship with my son, and that's what it's gotten to, and I don't like it," he reveals.
Ed and Mimi have been watching their life with Jacob depicted on video. Afterward, Dr. Phil asks Ed, "What's your reaction to what you've seen?"
"If I didn't know who I was or anything like that, I'd think this guy is a jerk," he says. "He's really mean to his kid. What is his kid doing that's causing him to act that way?"
Mimi adds, "It made [Ed] look like a real meanie up there. I mean, bad."
[AD]"Can you imagine how it looks to Jacob?" Dr. Phil asks Mimi. "Do you think that's maybe exactly what he sees?"
"Yes," she says. "I think that Jacob just sits there and thinks that, â€˜All the world is closing up on me,' and that's the reason why he shuts down like that."
"We both know that Jacob's a good kid. We've said it to him a million times," Ed interjects. "There are just some things that we get frustrated with him about."
On video, Mimi and Ed describe Jacob's frustrating behavior.
"The most recent counselor that we went to described Jacob as 'A terrorist in your house.' He goes and does things slyly, quietly," Mimi says. "Sometimes I do feel he wants to fail school on purpose."
Ed describes a typical day with Jacob. "I'll wake up in the morning, and I'll think to myself am I going to have to go over and start yelling at him to go and do some of the basic things that he's told to do every single day: brush your teeth, get dressed and go to school, eat something before you go to school, take the dog out?" he says. "He's just put off by the fact that he has to do some of these different things. When we tell him to go do something as simple as go outside and take care of the dog's mess, he hears us say that, [and] he goes off in his room, picks up a book, sits down and starts reading. Then, he'll start arguing with me about it [and say], â€˜Why doesn't my younger brother have to go do it?' 'Your younger brother is 4.'"
[AD]Ed says he and Mimi handle the incidents with Jacob differently. "She'll walk away from it. I, unfortunately, don't do that. I end up trying to lecture him, trying to get him to understand why it is we want him to do this," he says.
"There have been a number of instances where I have just gone to bed," Mimi says. "First, I go to bed thinking Jacob's not getting enough sleep for school the next day, and second, I'm not going to sleep with my husband next to me, and that really makes me sad."
"Tell me what your goal is in being here," Dr. Phil says to the parents.
"I understand I'm not the perfect parent," Ed says. "I would just like to know if there's some sort of guidance you can give me to help me not blow up at Jacob, not lose my temper with him so quickly."
Mimi says her goal is to help her husband and son get along. "I want them to be friends. I want them to be partners," she says. She explains that the arguing between Jacob and Ed affects their other children as well, and that she's seen her middle son shudder when they engage in verbal combat.
"He doesn't do a lot of the things that teenagers don't do, but he's really good at not doing them," Dr. Phil tells the couple.
Ed says he accepts the fact that teens misbehave. "I'm not expecting for him to go and do everything right away," he says.
"Yes, you are," Dr. Phil interrupts. "It's not that you expect him to be perfect â€¦ You expect him to be pretty close."
"I'll admit that," Ed says.
"What he's doing is not OK. It needs to change. What you're doing is not OK. It' needs to change," Dr. Phil says to Ed. "You're calling him names. You're telling him he needs to [expletive] listen. You're barking at him in his face. You're being sarcastic. You're being condescending and giving him putdowns, because he's pushed you to the brink." He explains that if Ed wants Jacob to change, he must stop acting as he does. "What you're doing is not only not working; it's actually creating the situation," Dr. Phil continues. He explains that when kids grow up, they become more independent and rebel and break away from their parents. "The more authoritative their parents are, the more confrontive their parents are, the more in-your-face their parents are, the more violent the rebellion. You are setting yourselves up for a crash. We've got the tail wagging the dog here. That young man is controlling this situation." He adds that Jacob is aware of how to get under his parents' skin. He tells Ed that he must disengage from the situation.
[AD]"I know that a lot of the times when I try and go in there and talk about this stuff, I know he's only saying things because he wants the conversation to end," Ed says.
"Exactly," Dr. Phil says. "He'll tell you anything to get out of the moment, because it is so toxic to him."