When Family Members Attack: Miranda

Mad at the World
"When I get mad, I get explosive," admits Miranda, a mother of three. "I run around the house yelling and screaming at everyone. Most of my anger is directed toward my children as well as my husband. I yell and scream at my kids because it just seems that they won't listen if I talk to them in a normal voice."
 
On a typical day, Miranda says she screams at her girls to clean up their rooms, pick up their toys and make beds. "My 3-year-old gets the worst of my anger. She's very moody, so I yell at my daughter to stop being a baby, stop whining, stop crying," she reveals. She also admits to cursing at her kids. "My 5-year-old daughter will say, ‘Mommy, please don't yell at me.'"
 
"My little daughter, sometimes I look, and she's scared," says Miranda's husband, Soccoro, with a heavy accent. "I'm scared by Miranda."
 
"When my husband asks me to stop screaming at our children, I shrug him off, or I will yell at him that it's none of his * business," Miranda says. "I feel incredibly guilty when I yell at my children. I feel like a terrible mom. I'm not physically abusive. I'm not afraid that my children can be taken away from me because my children's needs " physically and emotionally " are met."
 
[AD]"What do you think about watching that?" Dr. Phil asks Miranda when the videotape ends.
 
"That hurts," Miranda replies. "That hurts a lot."
 
"Can you imagine what it feels like to them?"
 
"The whole time I'm yelling and screaming at them, I just can't imagine how they feel."
"That is absolutely disgusting," Dr. Phil says sternly, referring to Miranda's meltdown on video. "Are you telling me you don't have sense enough to know that that is unacceptable behavior?"
 
"I do know that it's unacceptable. That's why I'm here. I need your help. My kids don't deserve that," Miranda answers. 
 
Dr. Phil makes clear that his staff did not shoot footage of Miranda berating her children. "We would not have allowed that," he says. "Your 7-year-old daughter shot that tape."
 
"She did."
 
Dr. Phil plays for Miranda a tape of what her kids hear in a typical week.
 
When the videotape ends, Dr. Phil takes Miranda to task for a previous comment. "You said, ‘I'm not concerned that my children will be taken away from me, because I don't physically abuse them, and they're protected and taken care of.'"
 
[AD]"They are. Their physical needs are met," Miranda replies. But then she concedes, "I need to change for them."
 
Dr. Phil points out that when Miranda is at work, people think she's a sweet person, so she has the ability to curb her temper. "You don't [rage] when you can't get away with it, because you are a coward and a bully," he says. "You have the control; you just don't exercise it. At home, you can get away with it because you're the big bull in the ring, right?"
 
"I guess so," Miranda says. Breaking down in tears, she says, "I wouldn't come and show the whole world what a terrible mother I am if I didn't want to change."
Dr. Phil stages an experiment so Miranda can get a taste of what her kids experience.
 
Dr. Phil turns to Miranda's husband, Soccoro. "You understand that you have a duty to protect these children, right?" Dr. Phil asks.
 
"Yeah, I know," Soccoro replies.
 
"Why are you allowing this to happen to your children?" Dr. Phil inquires.
 

TAKE A QUIZ

"Sometimes, I can't say anything because I don't know what I can do," he answers.
 
Dr. Phil notes that Socorro recently asked Miranda for a divorce. Socorro confirms this, but says, "I don't want to lose my family."
 
[AD]Dr. Phil addresses Miranda. "You need to decide that you are going to hold yourself to a higher standard. You need to decide, ‘This is not who I am designed to be,'" he says. "Your self-worth and self-esteem is on the floor. Would you agree?"
 
"Absolutely," Miranda agrees.
 
Dr. Phil says that Miranda needs to get an evaluation to determine what's going on emotionally, hormonally and psychologically. He also suggests that she attend an anger management program, and he says he'll make those resources available to her. Miranda accepts the help.
 
"I hope I've given you a wake-up call. This stops today," Dr. Phil warns.