Rudest Kids
Dr. Phil talks to a mother who can't put up with her teen's disrespectful behavior.
"My 14-year-old stepson, Cameron, is destroying my family," says Ellen. "I've heard him call me a b**ch, call me every name you can imagine. He says the F-word, that I'm stupid and mean and I'm not his real mom."

She also fears that Cameron's behavior is affecting her relationship with her husband, Tom. "My husband doesn't know how to deal with it and he blames me," she confesses.

Tom thinks his wife is overreacting. "Ellen gets very angry at Cameron at the drop of a hat and I think her expectations are unreasonable for kids," he says. "Ellen sees Cameron as
competition for my time. As a matter of fact she said, 'I just don't like the kid.' I'm afraid that he's going to grow up without really having a mom."

Cameron feels picked on. "I think she most misunderstands that I'm not out to get her," he says. "I'm not sure there's hope. I would like to see our family be a happier, normal family."

At her wits' end, Ellen turns to Dr. Phil. "I really want to believe that I'm going to be able to get through all this, but it's just 11 years of the same thing," she says. "Can you please help us?"
"Well this is affecting y'alls relationship. Would you agree?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I'm just terrified this is all going to be my fault, that I'm just a military mom," Ellen confesses. "It makes me feel like I'm failing at this."

Tom agrees that their relationship is strained. "We can't sit down and have a family dinner without having a big argument at some point," he says.

Dr. Phil points out that Tom divorced when Cameron was 3, and may be feeling some guilt about parenting. "I think it was very difficult for him. I think it was very difficult for you. You're now in a position where you have essentially had custody pretty much the whole way, which means that his mother is out of his life," he says. "I think you feel guilty about that and as a result, I think you hold him to a lesser standard."

Tom agrees. "I think there's a big impact on him. I think he got a short shrift in life and he deserves some help with that," he says.

Dr. Phil questions if Tom is doing his son a favor by being overindulgent. "It's like, 'He's had it tough, so I'm not going to be hard on him now.' Isn't that kind of the equation here?"
"When children go through a divorce, they have dramatic and exaggerated needs that have to specifically be attended to in a very positive and therapeutic fashion," Dr. Phil explains. "If that's not done, they're going to be left with insecurity, fear, voids and often, they're going to be overaggressive and overpushy and really withdrawn."

When Tom says that he doesn't think Cameron is consciously choosing to be disrespectful, Dr. Phil points out: "He'll sneak treats and then lie that he didn't do it. When he sits at the dinner table, he takes up three fourths of the dinner table and then crowds his sister out on purpose ... Do you think that's by accident?"

"I'm not sure I see all of that actually," Tom says.

"Are you in denial here about what he's doing?" Dr. Phil asks.

Tom replies that he may be, but adds that those incidents only account for about 5 percent of his son's behavior.

"Does it suggest to you that maybe that 5 percent is particularly significant in that it's actually disrupting your marriage, and it's disrupting your peace of mind that your wife is here with you, upset, tearful, absolutely wrung out and doesn't know what to do?" Dr. Phil says.

Tom answers, "That's why I'm here. I want to figure out how we can address this problem differently."
Telling the couple that they can't change what they don't acknowledge, Dr. Phil says, "When children go through a divorce situation ... what they need more than anything are standards of conduct. What they need more than anything are boundaries. Guidance. What they need more than anything from their male role model is to not tolerate or endure them treating the women in the home badly. If he's going into his sister's room and screaming, 'Get the F up,' and walking out and slamming the door, his respect for women is very suspect with me."

Turning to Dr. Siegel, Dr. Phil asks, "You think there's a possibility here of some type of ADD, ADHD or disregulation at a brain level, correct?"

"That's right. Just from reading the records for Cameron, I would be concerned and he needs to be evaluated for that kind of medical problem," Dr. Siegel suggests.

Dr. Phil advises the couple to close ranks and negotiate in their parenting or Cameron is going to pay the price.