A Woman Torn
Dr. Phil speaks with couples in unconventional marriages.
Robin writes to Dr. Phil:

When I was working as a prison minister, I met Randy, one of the inmates. He was serving a life sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping. Eventually we fell in love and got married. But I couldn't handle knowing that he may never get out of prison, so we separated three years later. I then had an affair with a married man and got pregnant. I was granted an annulment of my marriage and cut off communication with Randy.

Randy just wrote to tell me that his life sentence was dropped. He's going to be released from prison. He says he wants to prove to me that he can be a good husband and father. My family and friends think he'll have a tough time functioning in the real world. I know Randy had been violent in prison. He told me he was in solitary confinement for 10 years and had some additional years slapped on to his sentence because of his behavior, but deep down inside, I know he's a beautiful person. I love him with all my heart and I know he loves me.

I have to decide if I should let him move in and help raise my 4-year-old daughter. I still love Randy, but how can I have a normal relationship with a man who has been behind bars for nearly 23 years?
"Go ahead and say it: 'What were you thinking?' Go ahead," Robin tells Dr. Phil.

"Well, your question is, should you allow a convicted felon, convicted on armed robbery and kidnapping a child about the age of yours, who spent years in solitary confinement in the prison for sticking a shiv in an inmate's ribs and was involved in gangs and drugs in prison to move in and help you raise your 4-year-old daughter?"

"You make it sound worse," laughs Robin.

"If that's who you chose as a mate, I would hate to meet the people you turned down," says Dr. Phil and the audience applauds.
"I mean seriously, what kind of résumé is that? And your question is, should you allow him to come into your home and help you raise your 4-year-old daughter? Are you serious?"

"Yes," says Robin.

"Are you serious?" Dr. Phil repeats. "Or are you just looking for me to validate the decision to put up a stop sign and not do this? Are you really contemplating this? Do you just want the added support? Because it seems to me to be intuitively obvious."
"Well, when you say it like that ..." says Robin.

Dr. Phil goes back over the facts: "Is he a convicted felon?"

"Yes."

"Was it armed robbery?"

"Yes."

"Did he kidnap a 5-year-old boy during the commission of the felonious act?"

"Right. The father and the son."

"Was he involved in gangs and drugs in prison?"

"Yes."

"Was he violent and stuck a knife in another inmate?"

"Yes."

"Was he so bad he spent years in solitary confinement?"

"Yes."Robin says the facts are all correct, but defends him, saying he was in a gang when he committed the crimes and has since shaped up. "He's a Christian man and he made a lot of mistakes in his life
when he was young and on drugs," she says.

Dr. Phil introduces two of Robin's close friends, Lori and Frank. "I know Robin will make the right decision," says Lori. "She's very smart and she's very kind hearted and when it comes right down to it, she'll make the right decision."

"I don't think she should give this guy any attention," says Frank, who used to be a prison guard and is now a probation officer. "Inmates look at women as property. Everything of theirs is property and they will go after it. Just because she is divorced from him doesn't mean that he's not going to come out and try to get back with her. And I'm worried for Robin because I think that's going to happen. And every time he sees that baby, it's going to remind him that she did him wrong or fouled him while he was locked up. I give him, if he does come around, three to six months before he gets violently angry."
Noting that Robin had a baby as the result of an affair with a married man, Dr. Phil asks, "Does it seem like you keep hooking up with guys that aren't available?"

"Yeah, I've figured that part out. I know that about me," says Robin. "That's why I want him to stay locked up."

Dr. Phil asks how getting back together would affect her daughter. "Isn't your responsibility as a parent to make decisions for what's in the best interest of your daughter?" he presses.

"Right."
"The best interest of your 4-year-old daughter is to assess a potential relationship and see if there are risk factors present that put her in harm's way. And when you look at it from that point of view, this is an easy question to answer. The risk factors are numerous, they're prominent, and you are putting her in harm's way if you put this man in her life."

"So should I see him separately?" asks Robin, and the audience shouts out in disbelief. "I'm just saying, can I have a relationship with him to see how he does for awhile?"

"No," says Dr. Phil. "No. No. No."

"So hit the high road and hide? What do I do?" she asks.
"The very fact that you ask the question 'Do I need to hit the high road and hide?' ... What does that tell you about the character of the individual that you are contemplating dialing into your daughter's life?" Dr. Phil asks.

"The character is that he's very needy of me and he thinks he can't exist without me being there 24/7," she explains.

"And if he was your primary responsibility, I would tell you to work out a way to meet his needs, but he's not your primary responsibility. Your daughter is your primary responsibility and you need to make decisions responsibly for her and that will not include him."