Extreme Punishment?

"I'm very concerned with the relationship my son and husband have. I think he tends to treat my son more like an adult. I don't have any intention of leaving my husband, and I'm very, very concerned with the anger that's between them," Maureen says on video.

"I believe in strong discipline without any abuse, but I do prepare them for the world we live in," Dan says. "Things aren't all sunshine and rainbows."

When the video ends, Dr. Phil addresses Dan. "If you're doing something that is over-the-top, out of control, would you want to know it?" he asks.

[AD]"Absolutely," Dan replies. "I just want to prepare him for life. I love my son. My family means everything to me."

"What is it that you think he's doing that you're most troubled by?" Dr. Phil asks Maureen.

"I think he's just too hard on him," she replies. "There's just so much anger between them. Sometimes I think Dan just doesn't know how to interact with him."

Dan explains one technique he uses for toughening up his son. "I had him standing in the living room, standing at attention with his hands behind his back, and looking straight forward," he tells Dr. Phil.

"How long?" Dr. Phil probes.

"I think it was maybe three to five minutes."

Maureen interjects, "It was until I came in and stopped it. Who knows how long it would have lasted?"

Dr. Phil consults his notes. "She said on one occasion you made him hold one-pound soup cans with his arms straight out for several minutes," he says. "[Joseph] says that you get in his face and yell, he says that he's scared of you, that he doesn't like you."

Dr. Phil plays a video that Joseph sent him regarding his discipline.

[AD]"I don't like the way that my father's been treating me. Everybody has a person they don't like the most in life, and Dad's that person. I think he should be at the top of my list of the people I love, but he just can't seem to get up there," the boy reveals.

When the video ends, Dr. Phil turns to Dan. "What do you think about what he's had to say?"

"That's my biggest fear, is I don't want him to hate me," he replies. "I don't want to beat my kids, I don't want to lay my hands on my kids, but I don't know how else to punish them."

Watch Dr. Phil explain how Dan can encourage his son.

Dr. Phil has Dan stand and hold weights in his outstretched arms.

"I've got some things to tell you about parenting. I'm curious whether or not you think this is going to improve your comprehension and concentration," Dr. Phil says.

"I'm pretty concentrated on these," Dan admits with a laugh.

"Do you think that's going to make you feel better about who you are? Do you think it's going to make you feel better about who I am? Do you think it's going to make you more receptive to the things I have to say to make you a more valuable father?" [AD]

Dan answers no to all of the queries.

"Do you think it's going to make him resent you if you create this experience for him?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah," Dan replies.


Dr. Phil heads backstage to talk to 9-year-old Joseph.

"What do you want to see happen with your dad?" Dr. Phil inquires.

"Treat me a little bit nicer," Joseph replies. "It seems like he treats my little sister, Katherine, like he loves her more than me, and I think he should start acting like he loves me just the same as Katherine."

"Do you think he doesn't like you very much?"

"Sometimes I don't at all, and sometimes I kind of do," the boy answers.

[AD]"Do you ever get really scared of him?" Dr. Phil asks. "What scares you the most?"

"When it looks like he's coming at me, and he's swearing at me. I, like, run away when he does that, because it scares me a lot," Joseph answers.

"What's your dad most proud of you about?"

"He never says to me, ‘Hey, I'm really proud of you about doing something,' and ‘That's really good that you did it.' He never says those kinds of things."

Dan, who has been listening to the conversation, enters the room and sits across from his son.

"Tell him what you think about what you've heard him say," Dr. Phil instructs Dan.

"I don't want you to feel like that, Buddy. I'm just trying to help you, and I don't know what else to do. I want you to do better than I did," Dan says. Wiping his eyes, he continues. "I don't want you to have to deal with the things that I had to deal with when I got older, because nobody showed me anything different. I love you as much as your sister, Joseph, You don't have to say that."

"Look him right square in the eye. Tell him what it makes you feel like to hear him say that he is afraid of you and doesn't feel loved by you."

"It's like the worst thing I could hear, Joseph. Everything I do, I do it for you guys," Dan says, his voice breaking. "It hurts a lot. I don't want you to feel like that." [AD]

Watch Dan's teary admission.

"What do you have to say to your dad?" Dr. Phil asks the tween.

"I love you too, and sometimes it does scare me a little bit. I'll try to do more stuff," he says.

Dr. Phil reconvenes with Maureen and Dan on his stage. He praises the father's willingness to confront his behavior. "Your goals are perfect. They are; they're perfect, but the method is wrong," he says. He discusses his seven tools for purposeful parenting. "Number one, is you've got to have a purpose. Your purpose is good. You want this young man to do it with clarity.

Get the rest of Dr. Phil's tools here.