The Aspen Education Group volunteered to take Brittney into the Youth Care Inc. program, one of Aspen’s 34 schools around the country helping troubled teens and their families.
After being at Youth Care for two months, Brittney reflects on the recent events in her life. “I ran away from home because I did not want to live with my mother anymore. I wanted to be with Michael pretty bad,” Brittney explains.
“Brittney has made really good progress. She and her mom have worked in family therapy on trying to build up their relationship. They do have many disagreements when it comes to Brittney’s relationship with Michael,” says Brittney’s therapist, who has been counseling her for two months.
“When I first came to Youth Care, I was very confused. I was mad at my mother. I’m starting to feel more confident in my relationship with my mother,” Brittney says.
“I definitely feel like our relationship has improved. There’s still a lot of work, but it’s definitely improved a lot,” Heidi notes.
At Youth Care Inc., Brittney is involved in the Baby Think it Over program, which uses a simulated baby that looks like a doll. The doll cries and acts like a baby, teaching mothers about the challenges of parenting.
“When I think of Michael and I think of the baby, I definitely want to have Michael involved. He wants to be involved. He wants to raise the child,” Brittney says, noting that she wishes her mom and Michael could get along. “I would love to have Michael involved in therapy,” she reveals. “I love Michael. There’s no other feeling for it. I love him.”
“I will never be able to accept Michael. Never,” Heidi declares.
“From your point of view now, does it seem inappropriate to you for a 34-year-old man to be fathering a child with a 16-year-old girl?” Dr. Phil asks Brittney.
“I know it’s not right,” she says.
“Not just from a point of legality. Does it seem inappropriate to you?” Dr. Phil probes.
“I guess not to me, no,” Brittney says.
Dr. Phil reviews Michael’s résumé. “He’s more than twice your age. He’s gotten involved in an illegal relationship. He currently has two other children that he’s raising while he’s living with his parents in their trailer,” he says, noting that when she has the baby there will be seven people living in the trailer.
“He planned to get a house,” Brittney says.
Dr. Phil wonders how Michael is going to be able to do this, since he doesn’t have a job. He explains to her that in the arc of life, she is still a child. “You got preyed upon,” he tells her. “I’m not mad at you for that, I’m just trying to wake you up now that you have been raped.” He explains to her that when a 34-year-old man has sex with a teenager, it’s statutory rape. “You are a victim in that regard.”
Referring to Brittney’s previous comments that Michael wants to raise their child and be a father, Dr. Phil asks, “Would you really want that?”
“I don’t feel victimized,” Brittney says.
“I know you don’t, because you’ve been seduced,” Dr. Phil says. He asks her to think ahead to the time when there are seven people living in Michael’s parents’ trailer. “All of a sudden, you’re not going to be the mother of one, you’re going to be the mother of three,” he says. “Particularly since he’s going to be in jail. Because as soon as this baby is born and the DNA determination is made, the courts intend to move on him and prosecute him.”
Dr. Phil asks Brittney if Michael lied when he said on tape that he was not having sex with her.
“Yes,” she says.
“I can think of no theory under which this guy is not going to be in jail, so are you going to raise his other two kids for him?” Dr. Phil asks.
“I probably won’t live with him if he’s in jail,” Brittney says.
Dr. Phil lists Michael’s previous run-ins with the law. “He’s been arrested and convicted for possession of methamphetamines with intent to sell and did six months in jail for that. And, he’s been busted on DUI and convicted of that. He was driving with a suspended license, got convicted of that and spent time in jail,” he says, noting that Michael will probably soon have to be registered as a sex offender. “You are a bright, intelligent, beautiful young woman. Do you reckon you might be settling a little cheap?”
“I don’t feel like it,” Brittney says.
“Is it possible that you might really want to ask whether or not he is worthy of your allegiance?” Dr. Phil asks.
“I haven’t really stepped back and thought about the whole relationship with him,” Brittney says.
“I would hate for you to do this in rebellion to Mom,” Dr. Phil says.
“It’s not in rebellion,” Brittney assures him.
Dr. Phil turns to Heidi and asks her what she wants to happen to Michael.
“Definitely, I want him in jail and away from Brittney,” Heidi says.
Dr. Phil addresses Brittney. “You don’t have the right to just do what feels good. You’re not making decisions just for you anymore. If you have this baby and drag this baby to this trailer to live with a registered sex offender, which I’m sure is what he’s going to be after he gets out of jail, then that’s the life you’re choosing for this child,” he tells her. He asks if she is considering keeping the child or placing it for adoption.
“I am looking at all of my options,” Brittney says, noting that she is going to make her decision based on the assumption that Michael will be in jail.
Dr. Phil turns to Heidi and asks, “You intend to prosecute, right?”
“Oh yes, definitely,” she replies.
Pointing out that Brittney met Michael on MySpace, Dr. Phil tells all moms and dads, “Parents, pay attention to what your kids are doing.”