The Bickersons: Colleen

A Breaking Point
Dr. Phil speaks with guests whose only form of communication is through bickering.

Colleen is a recently single mother of five children, and her household is in chaos. "The boys will not get along. The fighting is escalating to fist fights. The 13-year-old chased the 15-year-old with a knife ... I walk around with constant migraines," says Colleen, who admits she has slapped them when she's lost control. "I can't deal with the stress of trying to keep this family surviving. I can't do that."


Because Colleen had to go back to work, the kids are left home alone for three hours a day. She leaves her oldest son, Mikey, 15, in charge. The kids fight as soon as they're in the same room with each other, and it's never ending. "They're going to snap. With no one to break it up, they're going to destroy each other. I'm just waiting for that phone call," says Colleen, turning to Dr. Phil for help. "My house is out of control ... It's more than I can handle. I need someone to help us get through this."


Cameras placed in their home portray a volatile environment. In one instance, Colleen screams at Mikey: "What, do you think because you're bigger than me that I can't touch you? You're lucky I don't touch you! Maybe I should bring your father back in here and let him go off on you. How's that?!"


The home footage reveals Mikey pushing Colleen, as well as many fights between the boys " Mikey, Brian and Devven.


The kids offer their point of view. Mikey says, "My mom's always slapping me or always hitting me for no reason."


Colleen's oldest daughter, Rebecca, 23, says her mom is "almost" going through a mid-life crisis. "She's out there partying, or she'll go out at 8:00 at night. When you ask where she was, she won't tell you," says Rebecca.

Dr. Phil asks Colleen what her reaction is to seeing the home footage.


"I didn't realize how bad it's escalated. Even me. I have no way to control it, so I snap and I lose it," admits Colleen.


Dr. Phil asks Rebecca what she thinks when she sees that home footage.


"That's what we live through every day," says Rebecca.


Dr. Phil turns to her brother: "Mikey, are you surprised when you watch that, how volatile it is?"


"No. I'm not surprised at all. The only thing I'm surprised at is that it seems kind of light compared to what we do. It gets a lot worse," says Mikey.


"Way worse," adds Devven, 10.

Dr. Phil asks Devven to explain how it gets worse.


"Um, we hit each other ..." Devven begins to cry, and Dr. Phil moves to sit near him.


"It's OK. You're doing a good job," Dr. Phil comforts Devven.


"We hit each other, we kick each other, we call each other names. We just can't get along," sobs Devven.


"Does it scare you?"


"It scares me a lot," says Devven.


"Why does it scare you? What do you think is going to happen?" Dr. Phil asks.


"If we keep on doing this, we'll never get along in the future, and so we can't protect each other. And it's not going to help us later on if we need each other," he replies.


"If you could tell a story about your family, and you could write the story any way you'd like it to be, how would you write it?" Dr. Phil asks.


"I'd make us all get along, and that's one of my dreams for us, to just stop fighting and just get along," says Devven.

"How do you feel about your mom?" Dr. Phil asks Devven.


"I kind of feel bad for her because as soon as she comes home and opens the door and says hi, she gets a million people in her face telling her what happened at home," he replies.


"Do you love her?"


"Yes, I love her very much," says Devven.


"How about your brother here, do you love him?"

"Yeah, sometimes."


Dr. Phil asks about his other two siblings, and Devven says he loves them too. "So you just want everybody to get along?" Dr. Phil asks. "Are you willing to help with that if I can come up with a plan for you guys?"


"If you can come up with a plan," says Devven, nodding.

Back on stage, Dr. Phil asks Colleen, "You realize that you've got to be the one that leads this situation out of the woods, right?"


"I realize that, but I can't anymore," says Colleen. "They don't listen to me. I can't get in between them. If I do, I'll get clocked in the head if they're fist-fighting."


"You're the adult here, you're the parent here. You're saying you can't do it. You mean you don't know how to do it, you don't have the tools, but that doesn't lessen your responsibility whatsoever. And your yelling and screaming is absolutely unacceptable. Plus, it doesn't work," Dr. Phil tells her.

 

"I'm going to tell you what I think here. You guys have to start working on this together," he tells the kids. "I promise you the day will not come that any of y'all will be proud of the fact that you were able to gang up on and bully your mother."

 

He turns to Colleen: "The day will never come that you will be proud of the fact that you could outscream your children, and threaten them and go through this ridiculous behavior."

Dr. Phil continues: "What you guys are going to have to do, is every one of you is going to have to look at what's happening on that tape and start controlling yourself personally. You need to start having some family meetings. It is time that you guys have some family meetings where you sit down and talk about certain things that need to be communicated. Children, you have responsibility for this family just like your mother and sister. Everybody has a responsibility here. And part of the responsibility can be to just stop doing certain things."


Dr. Phil explains that they do have the ability to communicate without screaming; the proof is that they don't yell in the workplace or with friends. When Rebecca says that it's sometimes necessary to speak loudly in a house of six, Dr. Phil doesn't buy it. "Listen, this is not a volume issue. This is a spirit issue, an aggressive issue, a viciousness issue," he says. "It is a matter of choice. But I believe one thing to be true. I believe that you cannot do this on your own." The family needs a plan " one that includes respect for themselves and each other.

Colleen says she has tried family meetings, but they don't work because her kids don't know how to communicate with each other.


"What I'm saying is you don't know how to do this at this point," says Dr. Phil. "I'm willing to get you someone to help. I'm

willing to get someone in your town that we talk to, to carry out the plan that I want to do, and we will put them in your home to conduct the family meetings, to become an intermediary ... I'm willing to do what it takes to stop this, but you have to be the adult and step
up and say, 'I will do what you assign to do.'"


"I will do what you assign to do," agrees Colleen.


"Period," adds Dr. Phil.


"Definitely. Period."

Dr. Phil asks Devin to join him on stage.


"What do you guys think of this young man right here?" Dr. Phil asks. The audience applauds and cheers.


"It's often been said, 'Out of the mouths of babes ... ' The most important words said on this show today, certainly were not said by me," says Dr. Phil.