Snap Judgments: Chris and Aubrey

Sending the Wrong Message?
Aubrey says her mother's judgments are ruining their relationship. She tells Dr. Phil, "I can't talk to her. When I do, everything that I say, I say something wrong, or it's something she doesn't want to hear, and I feel like I'm not going to want to have anything to do with her once I get older."

Chris maintains that she thinks she has a good relationship with her daughter. "Yes, I am judgmental. I tell her if I don't like what she's wearing, because I don't like her dressing with low cut shirts, and shorts that are too short, because I don't want people judging her out on the streets, because she's a very good girl. She's a nice girl," Chris says.

Aubrey shows Dr. Phil a camisole she often wears, noting that her mother thinks it's too low cut, and a long pair of shorts her mother likes her to wear.

"They look cute on her," Chris says.

"They look like I'm selling bibles," the teen replies.

[AD]On video, Chris rifles through Aubrey's closet and shows off clothes she doesn't approve of. "This is a standard cami that she wears: very low cut, and spaghetti straps. These are a pair of shorts that are barely there," she says. "This is a pair of shoes she bought without me knowing about them. Looks like they should be walking down wherever the hookers walk in Hollywood." Holding up a pair of shorts she approves of, she says, "They're adorable. Now if you could help me fix her wardrobe, and how she should be dressing, that would be great."Chris tells Dr. Phil she'd like her daughter to dress more discreet. "I don't like the fact that when we're walking down the street, and guys are ogling her, especially older guys, because she is only 16," she says. "Girls need to start dressing like they're 16 and not 21 working the pole somewhere. I just don't think it's appropriate, and I know I'm going to take a lot of flack over this and probably a lot of flack from her friends, because a lot of her friends dress like this too."

"She says you also judge her hair color," Dr. Phil says.

"Oh, yeah. She's had four to five different shades already in the last few months," Chris says.

"What difference does it make if that hair is blue, pink, purple, red?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Because how she is out in the public is a reflection on how she's being raised, and I don't want people to think that she isn't an intelligent girl," Chris says, adding that she thinks a blue streak in her daughter's hair makes her look trashy.

"Basically, I don't fit the mold of what I'm supposed to look like," Aubrey says. "She has an image for me, for my friends, for the people who I date, of how they're supposed to look, whether it's their clothes, their hair, their makeup, whatever, and if they're even the slightest bit out of that mold, they're wrong, and they're trash, and they're disgusting, and she doesn't want anything to do with them."

[AD]"I think you've got to pick your battles," Dr. Phil tells Chris. He adds that his youngest son, Jordan, has had a mohawk and a beard. "These aren't things I would wear or that I would choose for him, and he is a musician. That's not what I would do, but I'm not him. They're a younger generation. The messages they're sending are different than the ones you are receiving." He asks Aubrey what kind of message she is intending to send when she dyes her hair.

"I think it's just fun. I think that teenagers just experiment. They just like to do that kind of stuff, because once you get older, you really can't," she says.
Aubrey reads part of the letter she wrote to Dr. Phil, and Chris reacts.

 

Dr. Phil makes it clear that Aubrey is an intelligent girl. He suggests that Chris pick her battles and negotiate when she's uncomfortable with her daughter's choices. He mentions that Jordan has changed his look multiple times, and they let him. "I know who he is, and if he wants to do this in a transient fashion, that hair will grow back. That dye will wear off. That message that he's sending is not for my friends; it's for his. He's defining himself," he says.

"But there aren't guys looking at your son in a low-cut shirt and deciding, 'Well, that's an easy girl. I could probably have her, because of the way she dresses,'" Chris argues.

[AD]Dr. Phil tells Chris she's underestimating her daughter. He also says he understands how young men think. "You can't dress her in a way they're not going to notice her. She is cute as she can be, and she has a nice smile, and she's a very attractive young woman," Dr. Phil says. He warns her, "You keep the pressure on this girl, two things are going to happen. Number one, she's going to rebel, and number two, she's going to move away from you." He explains that the most rebellious kids are usually parented in extremes: either very strict and oppressive or too lax. "It's parenting in the extremes that creates what you fear the most," he says. 

Chris says Aubrey is a very good kid. "There will come a point in her life where she will have to make her own decisions. I'm trying to set a guideline or a boundary for her so that she can follow," she says.

Dr. Phil reiterates that Chris should pick her battles.


"If I didn't love her, and if she wasn't my most valuable possession, I wouldn't care what she did," Chris says.

Dr. Phil tells Chris that her daughter is not a possession. "I want you to hear the effect that you're having on her with the messages that you're sending," he says. He plays a video diary from Aubrey:

 

"She still tries so hard to make me that doll, to make me the mold, to make me that perfect daughter who never says, does, or looks like anything that she doesn't want me to be," Aubrey says. "It makes me feel so frustrated, and it makes me feel so controlled, and it feels like she has me by the neck. It's a horrible, suffocating feeling, and I can never be happy with it, because I can't be myself."

 

Dr. Phil asks Aubrey, "What's going to happen if she allows you to be more self-expressive? Are you going to go nuts? Are you going to become promiscuous?"

Aubrey says, "That's what she seems to think that I'm going to do, that I'm going to run out and have 100 tattoos and my makeup is going to be so dark and I'm going to be wearing almost nothing on the streets, but that's not what I plan to do. It's not what I want to do, and it's just that constant battle because as she said before, the way that I look is a reflection on her, so if I look bad, it makes her look bad. And I think that's what her main concern is, is how people look at her."

 

Chris admits that it's possible.


"I really do recognize that you are a devoted mother who wants the best for your daughter. What I'm trying to get you to recognize is that your technique, the intensity of your control at this point is beginning to have a backlash for you."


[AD]"I can see that," Chris acknowledges.

"Have some dialogue instead of dictation, and it may work out where your influence is prolonged instead of turned off," Dr. Phil tells Chris. He turns to Aubrey and tells her to negotiate with her mother, come to some agreements, and when Chris sees that she can fulfill her end of the bargain, she may relax some.