Dr. Phil says, “I have no preconceived idea about where you should be,” he tells her, “whether you should be at home with your parents or you’re better off on your own or somewhere else. What I know is all of a sudden you ran away.”
“I was unhappy at home,” Amanda says. “My mother wasn’t compromising with me. She was arguing with my father.”
“She and your dad were having trouble, right? But you didn’t know that?” Dr. Phil says.
“I didn’t know that. I thought they were fine,” she says as tears well in her eyes. “It breaks my heart, because I’ve seen them together all my life, you know? It breaks my heart.”
“Have you missed your mother? I know you were frustrated with her, but have you missed her?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Yeah,” she says with sincerity. “It’s not that I want to disown her, but she treats me like I’m a 12-year-old child. I’m almost 17 years old. I’m almost an adult. I know what I want. My mother wants me to break, and I won’t break.”
“When you say break, what does she want you to do?” asks Dr. Phil.
Amanda says, “She wants me to not have a boyfriend. She wants me to be right in that house, and she wants me to be like my sister who’s 20 years old, still living in that house, and not having boyfriends.”
Dr. Phil asks Amanda where she has been.
She tells him, “I was in town for a while, and then I heard that my boyfriend’s mother was going down to Florida to meet her son. And I asked her, I said, ‘Can I go?’ And she says, ‘Is it all right?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I lied to her.”
“Why wouldn’t she call your mom and check?” Dr. Phil asks. “I mean, you don’t just take somebody’s kid and leave town in the middle of the school season.”
“Seriously? She believed me. I lied to her. I feel bad that I lied to her, because now she’s in a position where she doesn’t know what to do.”
“They’re in a lot, a lot of trouble,” Dr. Phil tells her.
“And they didn’t do anything,” Amanda insists.
“You know, you made headlines,” Dr. Phil says as he pulls out a newspaper.
“I know,” she says. “I saw it yesterday.”
“‘Teen could be with gypsies.’ Are they gypsies?” Dr. Phil probes.
Amanda says, “Seriously? I wouldn’t even put it that way. They’re just like me and you.”
“Yeah, but they don’t stay in one place very long,” he counters.
“No, they do,” she refutes. “They only do what they have to do. If they want to go away, then they go away.”
Dr. Phil asks Amanda if she’s still seeing her boyfriend and she confirms that she is.
“Do you like him? Are you in love with him?” he asks.
“Seriously? I love him to death,” she says.
Dr. Phil learns from Amanda that George is 16 but does not go to school. Instead, he works and lives with his parents. He asks Amanda if she thinks she should be living at home.
“It’s better off that I don’t,” she tells him. “[My mother doesn’t] want me to be happy. She wants me to be with her, and that’s it.”
“Do you really think she doesn’t want you to be happy or just that she disagrees with what’s good for you?” Dr. Phil asks.
“She wants me to be happy, but she doesn’t know that he really makes me happy. He does. He doesn’t do drugs, he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t beat me. Anything I want, he’ll give me. He would die for me.”
“If she was willing to re-open the dialogue, and be less rigid about it, would you compromise back her way, as well? Like, would you move home, would you live there if she kept an open mind about your relationship, if she did different things that were less intrusive to you? I’m not saying she will, I’m just asking where you are.”
“I don’t know,” she says. “Seriously? I don’t even know.”
Next, Dr. Phil sits down to speak with Amanda’s parents alone.
After making introductions, Dr. Phil says, “We’ve got a problem.” Linda agrees. “As you know, we work pretty fast,” he says. “We’ve sprung people into action to get this rolling along. We’ve now got her at least safe. As you know, we’re keeping control. Why did this kid run away?”
“She ran away to be with her boyfriend,” says Linda.
“She says you have been totally rigid, uncompromising, won’t even discuss her seeing him. True?” Dr. Phil asks.
“At this point, yes,” says Linda. “Before, when she first started seeing him, I did try to compromise. They were always at his house, and I said that this is not acceptable. It would be she got home from school, they would come and pick her up and then they would bring her home by her curfew.”
“They wouldn’t even come into the house. They would pull to the driveway, honk the horn, and out she would run,” Paul adds.
“What do you want to see happen here?” asks Dr. Phil.
“First of all, I wanted to get my daughter back,” says Linda with profuse thanks for Dr. Phil. “Now, I want to get her the help that she needs because I feel as though she’s brainwashed.”
Dr. Phil suggests bringing Amanda back in. First, she is to meet alone with her father, who hasn’t seen her since she ran away originally. Paul says he’s anxious to see her.
When she comes into the room, they embrace and laugh.
“What’s going on, Dad?” Amanda asks.
“Looking for you,” he replies, looking tearfully into her eyes.
“Is it the truth that you never helped find me? Ma told me you didn’t help,” she tells him.
“Mom had a lot to do and I had a little bit here and there, you know?” Paul says.
“But I just wanted to ask you that because Ma told me different and I had a feeling she was lying about it,” Amanda says.
Dr. Phil interjects, “Now, Paul, let me ask you. Are you kind of throwing your wife under the bus here? Because she’s saying, ‘I knew that my mother was lying, that you weren’t actively involved in this,’ and you weren’t very involved in it, were you?”
“I had — not as much —” Paul begins.
“I mean, is she lying? Is Linda lying when she’s saying that to her daughter?” Dr. Phil presses.
“No I — Like I said, I had friends of mine looking out for her so —”
“He was with his friends trying to help,” says Amanda.
Dr. Phil greets Linda as she joins her family again.
“Where do we go from here?” he asks. “Is it your intention to run away again?”
“No, I want to understand her, and she needs to understand me,” Amanda says.
Dr. Phil asks, “Are you willing to work on this relationship with your parents and to do the things that you need to do to prepare yourself for life, a huge one of which is getting back in school and creating some balance in your life at this point? I want you to have a relationship with your mother. I want you to have a relationship with your father.
“Now you said, ‘She doesn’t want me to be happy.’ That’s not true.” he continues. “It’s not that she doesn’t want you to be happy. She just doesn’t think what you’re doing is going to make you happy. She thinks what you’re doing is going to destroy your life. I want to have a commitment here that everybody’s going to stay hooked up to this and we’re going to try to get back to some peace. I mean, you can get mad and throw out ultimatums and that won’t work, you guys can put her in the middle of a divorce and that’s going to stress her out and that’s not going to be any good, and you can run off with George and that’s not the way to go. The way to go is let’s work this out.”