Rudest Kids
Dr. Phil talks to a mother who can't put up with her teen's disrespectful behavior.
"My daughter Jodie is 14 and she has a real attitude problem," says Darlene. "Jodie has absolutely no respect for authority ... She's very disrespectful to teachers."

Her daughter was recently kicked off the cheerleading team for mouthing off to the coach. "She intimidates kids in school, and I get phone calls from the principal," Darlene says.

Jodie defends her behavior. "I don't give my parents respect because I don't feel like they give me any respect," she says.

Even though Darlene has taken away Jodie's privileges, she still can't get her daughter to behave. "Nothing seemed to take care of the problem so we sent her to boot camp," Darlene recalls.

"I was there with girls that had tried to burn down their houses and kill their family members. And I was there for talking back to my mom," Jodie says. She feels that she's being unfairly picked on and that her parents expect her to be like her older sister, Jaime. "My dad said that his life would be easier if I was never born and that really hurts my feelings," she sobs.
"Jodie, tell me what you're thinking and feeling right now," Dr. Phil says.

Crying, Jodie replies, "I feel like my mom doesn't ever pay any attention to me. When she does, she's yelling at me because she's mad that I'm not perfect. And I'm not like my sister. She expects me to be perfect and I'm not, and I can't help that."

Darlene disagrees. "I think that she does what she wants, when she wants and how she wants. And if she doesn't get what she wants, we pay for it."

Addressing Jodie, Dr. Phil points out that she has said to her parents: "'Screw you. You're a piece of crap. You're gay. You're an idiot' ... Did I read those right?" he asks.

Jodie defends her actions. "The only reason I treat my parents like that is because I feel like they do that to me first," she says, pointing out that her mom has said hurtful things like, "I was the biggest mistake of her life, that we would have a better family if I wasn't there, that she hates me. She's said tons of things like that."

Darlene disagrees. "She's taking it totally out of context," she explains. "I have said some horrible things to her. Not that I hate her, that I hate the way she acts. There's a difference."
Dr. Phil suggests that Darlene look past Jodie's anger because it is an outward manifestation of inner hurt, fear or frustration. "Do you think that she's hurting?" he asks Darlene.

Darlene replies that she thinks her daughter is frustrated, but not as hurt as she claims to be.

Addressing Jodie, Dr. Phil says, "If things could be the way you want them to be at home, what would they be?"

Emotionally, she replies, "Like my sister's life ... Perfect. She gets everything she wants."

"Is she smarter than you? Is she prettier than you? Is she better than you?" Dr. Phil probes.

Jodie answers, "She's everything I want to be."

Turning to Jodie's sister, Jaime, in the audience, Dr. Phil asks, "Do you want to have a peaceful relationship with your sister?"

"I do. Really bad," Jaime says.
Dr. Phil wants Jodie to understand that she's not the only one in the family who feels pain. "Why do you think she's reaching out to me for help?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Because she wants you to pay for me to go to military school?" Jodie replies as the audience laughs.

Jodie was evaluated by Dr. Dan Siegel, a member of the Dr. Phil advisory board and a professor of child psychiatry at UCLA. "It's important to make sure there are no medical explanations for the pain in the family," Dr. Siegel explains. "And so we wanted to make sure there were no medical problems. There are some issues of hormonal imbalance that we need to check into. But beside that, it does not appear this time that there are conditions like problems with mood, like manic depressive illness or like thinking and schizophrenia or substance abuse or even other issues like autism."

Showing off a model of a teenage brain, Dr. Siegel continues, "In teenagers, what we're learning now is that the brain is a construction site ... the front part of the brain, right behind your forehead, is this part here that allows you to reason. And this is the part that in all teenagers is really being remodeled during adolescence. Teenagers may really look like adults, but in fact they are under a massive reconstruction in this area. Now what that means is ... if there's any intense emotion, you lose your reasoning — you flip your lid essentially — and you can be spewing all sorts of statements and behaviors that you don't mean to."
"I don't think you are a bad mother," Dr. Phil stresses to Darlene. "I think that you are a very loving, caring and confused mother."

He explains that Jodie is the "target patient" in the household — the one who's making noise and acting out. "Usually one member of the family will emerge as the noisemaker ... And the biggest mistake in the world right now, Mom, that I think you could make is to send this girl away."

Dr. Phil observes that the entire family needs to change. "This family is hurting. This family needs an intervention," he says.

Turning to Jodie, he says, "You need to curb your tongue. I don't think you're a mean kid at all. I think you're scared. And I think you're getting people before they get you. And it's not working for you. You're not going to have any friends, you're not going to have a boyfriend. A guy is going to look at you and go, 'Oh no. I'd rather hug a buzz saw than get into that.'"

He tells Jodie and Darlene that he will arrange for them to go to counseling. "I want to set up for you a family intervention here with some skilled family therapists that can create a new pattern in this family, redefine some new relationships, teach you about empathy and forgiveness, and teach you about listening without agreeing," he says. "I want to try and see if we can step back and stop the blame game and stop living in the past, and in the spirit of acceptance and forgiveness, see if we can retrain this. You can't do this on your own. You're worn out. You can't take it anymore. You've got to have some reinforcements."

Both Jodie and Darlene say they will participate in the therapy with a good attitude.