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October 23rd, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Should Kids Have a Say?

mother daughter2I have a question that the shows airing Thursday and Friday made me really think about.

First, here’s a quick overview of the family I had the privilege to meet and work with.  I wonder what you would have told them: Not long ago, 26-year-old Kristin wrote that she and her five — count ‘em five — sisters were convinced something really disturbing was going on with their mother, Carole, who until recently, had been very close with them.  Carole, according to her daughters, seemed to be adopting some new and troubling behaviors: being secretive, getting spray tans (significant because it was something they say she would never do), shopping for sexy clothes at stores targeted to much younger women and uncharacteristically, taking a mysterious weekend trip to Las Vegas, supposedly with her girlfriends.

I really try to not pre-judge before I have all the facts, so I’m thinking:  Is this just a mother deciding it’s time to put herself “on the list” and do some fun things? Or is this a case of a woman making a 90-degree turn down “Trouble Highway”?  Carole’s daughters wanted help with confronting their mother about what they suspect is an extramarital affair. Now, I’m pretty hard to surprise, but I will tell you, there were some revelations in this story that I did not see coming, not even almost!

I had some hard questions to deal with, such as: Should children get a vote regarding their parents’ adult lives, or should they mind their own business? When children, of any age, try to tell their parents what to do, or not do, should they expect compliance? And is “Butt out, I’m your parent, not your spouse. We have a relationship between us, but this is out of your area and none of your business” an acceptable response?

blog2If you’re a teen, or a grown child (20+), do you try to intervene in your parents’ lives, especially if you see them doing things you consider to be out of character?  Do you step up and say, “Hey, settle down,” because you’re thinking that they aren’t being the mom or dad you remember? Or maybe, you’re the parent who has a kid trying to tell you how to behave.  If so, I am wondering how you feel about it.  Sometimes life is about setting boundaries, even with the ones we love, but it can be hard. The shows sure have made me think, from both the father and son perspective.  I have always said that no matter how flat you make a pancake, it has two sides!

I’m betting you will see aspects of yourself and the relationships you have with your own family throughout this story — especially on the subject of boundaries. How would you feel if your children began taking inventory of your life, even about the things you do that may not directly affect them? How would you feel if they did some sort of intervention when it came to your marriage? I have to say, I hold my relationship with Robin to be just that — with Robin — and my kids don’t get much of a vote.  I think she would agree wholeheartedly. But, and this is a big but, I don’t think either one of us has ever been on “Trouble Highway!”

Let’s face it, children, even once their grown, simply can’t know everything that happens in their parents’ lives. They don’t see what takes place behind closed doors. To put it another way: They don’t know what they don’t know. So they sometimes may offer very strong opinions with incomplete data. Are they entitled to do that? After all, they are part of the family, and are often impacted by what their parents do.

So, what boundaries should you have when it comes to your children getting involved in your own private life?  And what if they are right?  I guarantee you will change your mind more than once while watching these shows!

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107 Responses to “Should Kids Have a Say?”

  1. Mark J says:

    I watched both shows and they looked like a mirror of my recent life. My wife was having an “emotional’ affair with a man almost half her age. We were married almost 35 years. She moved out, got her own place (wouldn’t even tell me her new address) but wouldn’t go so far as filing for a divorce. After about two years of this, I finally got fed up and filed for a divorce. If I could talk to Bill I would tell him to do the same. There are some great ladies out there, and in his age group, there are more women than there are men. His wife, like my ex-wife wants to have her cake and eat it too. She wants him waiting in the wings in case her new fling doesn’t work. She will not quit seeing the guy, just like my ex-wife didn’t. Bill, there could be a great life waiting for you when you quit letting her lead you around by the ……..

  2. J. Carey says:

    My parents divorce began when I was 17 and in a role reversal to what this story presented, I was the one being pulled in by each parent and I did not want to hurt either so I practiced avoidance. The parental relationship should be, to a certain extent, kept out of the kids business and kids should respect the parental relationship. This of course is NOT a black and white issue and so there is obviously an overlap. It hurt me tremendously as I just wanted both parents happy and I wanted to know how I fit into the new “family” and how to communicate in a healthy manner with the new dynamics. It took decades! The relationship of parents absolutely affects children so it is naive to think that it revolves in a bubble.

    I believe that you did not emphasize enough that she needs to understand how and why she pulled away from her marriage and that there is much hope in confronting these issues as a couple and that often times that the fear is greater than the honesty and repair that can happen. There is much hope for each partner to heal and both have happiness. Listening to you, it appeared that you portrayed a gloomy outcome to this couple repairing and remaining a couple. She seems to needs the hope of the resurrection of the relationship.

  3. Susan says:

    Dr. Phil-
    I only wish that 10 years ago you would have sat me down and told me what you told that mother/wife. I too was involved in a “emotional” (at least that is what I told everyone else) that eventually destroyed my family. If I had it to do over again I am certain I would have still ended up divorcing my then husband. I would not have to live with the guilt of how things ended had I have done things the right way. Needless to say after 8 years of being with the man that helped destroy my family he left me for another married woman and destroying another family. In hindsight I would never jeopardize my children, my reputation and my relationship with family and friends to “find” myself. It is a guilt that I will carry with me forever.

  4. Glenna Huber says:

    I did, as you mentioned, see myself in the story of the affair in this family affecting their children. The effects are life-long, and no matter how hard everyone works to reconcile their feelings and acceptance of the events and results, there’s always an aching hurt in everyone involved. We forgive, move on, accept, reconcile; all those things; but the harm cannot be completely undone, once inflicted. It does not matter how old the children are and even if they do intellectually understand, they are damaged in ways that only time will reveal. It will affect generations to come, not just the ones dealing with this situation now. I understand this wife’s “right” to happiness, but at what cost? I hope she realizes that the “high” feelings she is experiencing now, with someone new giving her their ear and attention, will not last forever, just as they didn’t in her present marriage. Eventually life happens and hard times will be faced and all will not always be sunshine and roses. I hope she will see how blessed she is and learn how to be thankful in her family for what has been built. I hope she will also become overwhelmed with love for her husband, who is willing to help her and stand by her, and work with her to get to a good place in their marriage. It may not be the “fairy tale” that she is fantacising about right now, but it can be a source of stability, comfort, and peace, that she cannot attain in any other situation or relationship. My advice, if she believes in God, is to pray, pray, pray. Look at her life and the lives of all those she influences from the viewpoint of her Heavenly Father, and see what is the higher view of her life, not just the temporary pleasure of the moment with a new person. If the new person will not wait, that should give her a BIG clue. I pray for them all. I speak from experience. Through it all, I’ve learned that God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. It is the waywardness of his children that causes pain. There is always forgiveness to be sought and accepted, no matter which way this story turns out. My prayers are with you. Just remember, that no matter how quickly or how long it takes to make a decision, the consequences are forever.

  5. Mark says:

    That mother…. she looked like she was totally burnt out and sick of being a mother from having so many kids, it was like a pending 30+ year trial and she finally cracked. And Dr. Phil: that bad woman wasn’t telling you everything, either. Sounds like a mother in a mid-life crisis. I was especially shocked when the daugthers brought of “she’s drinking and smoking!” as if it wasn’t a normal habit that they knew of. And that household was heading for some real trouble with future boyfriends. I’ve been in houses with big families & there’s no parents or adults around to supervise because the parents are always working: we basically just walked off the street and hung out in the house. Thank god we were good teens or it could had been really bad. Believe it or not, the only friend I had who’s parents divorced, the mother ended marrying her affair man, who was basically a polar opposite of my friend’s father. I suppose this was a rare case.

  6. Cathy Branscum says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    Yes, I think the children should be somewhat involved, but primarily I believe that the two adults should work on the issue with qualified individuals before the children are invited into the mix. All of the family needs care and help with this matter, but the responsiblity lies with the marriage partners. I divorced myself in 1989. I was trapped in a marriage that was making me physically ill. I had married my husband just out of high school, he was 11 years older. We never exhibited signs of problems for 14 years. I became so distraught that I extricated myself, THE WRONG WAY, and it has haunted me and my two daughters since that time. I did not know a better way. I have to comment, the womans husband is really special, if my husband had given me the care and love through all of my hard time, I would probably have stayed. I don’t view him as weak at all, but more a real man who is more focused on the family and willing to see her needs. I have been single since that time and have never found a husband because of all of the pain I experienced. I just hope that with your help the whole family will be able to survive this pain. Thank you Dr. Phil, you are my male role model forever. Cathy Branscum, Clifton, Co.

  7. Julie P says:

    After watching this family, I think there are more/deeper problems than the mother’s infidelity. In my experience, people who profess to have “perfect” families/children or both are either trying to convince themselves or others. This couple has been married 19 years but have children as old as 26 (if I read correctly), then they are either a blended family (which they fail to mention in order to comply with the “perfect” scenerio) or the parents waited many years to get married after having children (why?). Then they have an 18 year old who didn’t know she was pregnant and the mother was oblivious. And now the younger daughter is ditching school and having a boy in their house when the parents aren’t home. What definition of “perfect” are they looking at. I think Mom has been spending most of her life trying to portray “perfect” and overlooking the little “imperfections” (pregnant daughter & infidelity) and has no clue whatsoever of what it takes to be a “real” mom and a “real” family.

    I have been married 26 years and our marriage has been full of “imperfections” but that is what marriage is about, growing together through the “imperfections”. Family and friends are always saying we have a perfect marriage and I kindly tell them that there is no perfect.

    If this family tried focusing on “real” instead of “perfect” they probably wouldn’t be in the place they are.

  8. Elin says:

    I am very upset with the channel 3 her in Norway!! This last week they have just shown Dr. Phil shows I have seen before….I found out that the shows they are usualy sending are about one month old..but this week I got dissepointet of them!!
    Hope they go back to new shows next week!!
    But Dr.Phil!! Can i write you a letter even if I live i Norway? Sorry this is nothing to do with this blogg……….but I’m getting desperate….My problems just get bigger and bigger…and I don’t know what to do!!! I have someone to talk to once a week but it really dosen’t help me very much! I have lots of questions I need answers to…..one of them is how I can get out of this caos I got myself into…..I don’t call important phonecalls…I mess with importent papers/letters…
    etc…..thing is very hard and difficult! I have got 3 diagnoses…..I am on the way to get medicine for one of them..I hope it will help!!
    Better stop writing here now!! Sorry again Dr.Phil that I write this on your blogg!!
    But you are the only one I know about that maby can help me….
    You’re the best!!
    /Elin

  9. Marcy says:

    I watched today’s show with a heavy heart. My husband of 15 years had an affair that lasted 8 months, when I found out I was devastated. we have 3 children 12 yr old twins and a 6 year old. Our twins know that daddy “cheated” on mommy with someone else, our youngest knows daddy hurt mommy’s feelings and he is trying to make it better.
    I decided as well as my husband that our marriage was worth fighting for. We went into counseling and also went through the Retrouvaille program.
    I recommend ALL couples having problems to give Retrouvaille a chance. The skills that my husband & I learned through this weekend and posts truly turned our marriage around.
    As far as our children, in a way I am glad that they know because at least then they also know that this had nothing to do with them, it had nothing too do with them fighting or not cleaning up, etc. Daddy made a choice and he made a bad one. This also opened up our conversations to talk to our children about cheating in relationships and how it’s not acceptable and that the only reason daddy & I are working on things is that we made a commitment to one another when we got married, but that if you are dating someone and they do this that it is unacceptable.

  10. Bret Loomis says:

    Dr. Phil, we have a problem in this society in that we often fail to respect the value of the other person’s stuff. In kindergarten, I learned that if I want to play with someone elses stuff, I need to ask. Spouses are the special stuff of a spouse.

    A friend of mine had a situation where his wife’s old boyfriend came calling. He said he wanted to have lunch with her as friends. She let her husband know and he suggested that she ask if he could come along. The old boyfriend recinded the invitation.

    If I wanted to use one of you power tools, Dr. Phil, I would ask you first. You might want to know what I am using it for, and you would expect that it would not be abused or mistreated. Oh how much more valuable is your wife is, and worthy of greater honor. The promise of fidelity in marriage means the spouse hands over territorial rights to the other spouse. Not ownership, but honor.

    Everyone should encourage healthy relationships, especially marriage, between two good-willed people. DO NO HARM…ever!

  11. Donna says:

    This mother looks as though she has completely checked out. She has lost interest in her children and her husband. She has been totally focused on chasing the boyfriend at work. She actually admitted that one of her daughters is having problems with bullies at school. She is just letting that go on, because she does not want to take time away from work to address the problems. She has no respect for her husband because he has no backbone. I am sorry to say that, because he looks like a sweet guy, but he is letting her treat him like a doormat. He needs to provide some moral guidance for his family. Those girls are just drifting.

  12. Penny says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I watched both shows and I divorced my husband of 18 years approximately 8 years ago. I have been in Carole’s shoes and Bills also. When you have an affair, whether it be an emotional or physical one, it causes the ultimate hurt. The fact that Bill can put everything aside and stay with Carole, my God she should understand the wonderful man he is and do everything in her power to make the marriage work. I think that Carole is in a place right now where she is wife and mother and no one else. Usually when something like this happens, getting involved with a co-worker, is because he makes her feel like a woman, sexy and important and not a mother and wife. Carole can find herself again, which she needs to do, and also be a wonderful mother and wife. Her kids are growing up and don’t need her as much as when they were little and that is leaving her with some feelings of freedom that she hasn’t had in a very long time. I know, I’ve been there. I know she will work through this, the outcome is unclear. I have a feeling that she is very torn and will probably end up on her own. The grass always looks greener, blah, blah. I hope she takes your advise and severs all ties with this other guy. He has no business being involved in the first place. He is taking advantage of her because she is vulnerable right now and it’s a challenge to see if he can really break up her marriage. These so called relationships almost always never work out. She needs to understand that she will lose everything and he will lose nothing. I hope this makes sense.

  13. Scott says:

    I do not believe that when you get married you have the right to pursue your own happiness. You give up all those rights when you make a commitment to another person. Rather, you should pursue the other persons happiness rather than your own. Telling this woman that she has the right to do whatever she wants is not good advice. When you marry, it is for life. You don’t quit. You don’t have the right to your own individual happiness (especially at the expense of others). Whatever happened to advising people to live out their vows…”For better or for worse”? Has this just become empty language? We have forgotten that marriage is a sacred act, done before God. Since when do we get the right to tell others that they can sacrifice their vows for a lesser good…that of personal happiness?

  14. Lisa Becker says:

    I just finished watching the second installment of Affair Intervention–the family whose mother was having an emotional affair. This entire segment was so utterly sad; most notably because the mother was obviously disconnected from her family. Throughout the entire episode, the mother Carole seemed as though she was one of those people who was unhappy because she was being forced to recognize that she has caused significant damage to her family, not because she was sad that the relationship between her and her family members has fallen apart.

    The mother never seemed to emotionally connect with the fact that the older daughters and her HUSBAND were distraught over the fact that their family, or what they believed to be family was being torn apart, not just by the affair itself, but by the fact that the mother wouldn’t own up to the fact that she has screwed up! She IS the mother/adult in the family, she is the one who made these terribly choices, whether or not her older daughters are raised and out of the house, she still owes them honesty and compassion. Their family has obviously been struggling with some really crappy stuff, to make it worse the individual who is primarily responsible for this change won’t even recognize that she has done anything wrong.

    My folks divorced when I was 13 and I can certainly attest to the damage that divorce can cause. It’s quite damaging when ones parents get so self-absorbed by their own needs, that they forget that the other family members also have needs. My parents did this to me and my two sisters, but never owned up to it. For some odd reason they believed they were the only ones divorcing, that wasn’t true. Our entire family fell apart and life was never the same.

    I believe this woman believes that she is owed her happiness, that she perhaps sacrificed throughout her life and now it was her time. She seemed so transparent to me. I found it interesting that she cried toward the end of the program when Dr. Phil asked her if she would make a commitment to end her affair until she came to terms with her own marriage. That’s when the tears started; she wasn’t sad because of what was happening to her family, she was sad because she couldn’t have her cake and eat it too! The hard work now begins, and she wasn’t ready to work on that, she wanted to continue the easy way out, she only wanted to deal with her own needs not the needs of an entire family. I believe her daughters could sense that also.

    Hey, by the way; I have a question…how does a mother who has three daughters still at home 12, 15, and 18, have time to go away for a week in Las Vegas and leave your entire family behind? As I watched the show I never heard anyone ever address that? Her husband is either a very patient man or he is someone who was having difficulty absorbing all that was happening. He looked like he was in shock.

    I hope Dr. Phil’s staff can help this family. I hope the kids in the family receive the most help, they are the ones who won’t have any say so in the success or failure in the marriage, yet they will probably carry the most guilt.

  15. Penelope says:

    BEING A WOMAN THAT HAS WALKED AWAY FROM A 16 YEAR MARRIAGE, DAMAGED THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR CHILDREN & STEPCHILD. ALL OVER THE WEAKNESS OF MYSELF NOT BEING ABLE OR WILLING TO WORK THROUGH THE CHANGES THAT COME WITH BEING MARRIED. I WAS GOING THROUGH THE EMPTY NEST SYNDROME AND A SMALL CHILD CAME INTO MY LIFE AND ALL I COULD SEE WAS HER NEED FOR A MOTHER (BIG MISTAKE). THAT IS JUST ONE OF THE CHANGES THAT WE GO THROUGH, AND MEN HAVE THEIR OWN CHANGES THEY GO THROUGH, BUT THEY CAN BE WORKED OUT AND THAT LOVE CAN BECOME STRONGER.
    MY EVERY DAY IS FILLED WITH REGRET OF WHAT I DID TO SO MANY PEOPLE I LOVE. MARRIAGE IS A JOB AND ONE THAT IS NOT ALWAYS FUN OR EMOTIONALLY, MENTALLY, OR PHYSICALLY FULLFILLING, BUT IT IS TO BE CHERISHED AND NURTHURED THROUGH ALL THE CHANGES THAT IT HAS.
    I HAVE BEEN GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE WITH MY SOUL MATE, AND I WILL SPEND EVERY DAY CHERISHING WHAT WE HAVE TOGETHER. I WILL NEVER LET ANYTHING COME BETWEEN US AGAIN.
    MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY CHILDREN AND STEP CHILD ARE BACK WHERE THEY BELONG. I HAVE MY FAMILY BACK AND I WILL NEVER TAKE IT FOR GRANTED AGAIN.
    SO PLEASE THINK REAL HARD AND DEEP BEFORE YOU CONTINUE THE PATH YOUR ON WITH THIS OTHER MAN. SO MANY PEOPLE YOU LOVE AND RESPECT ARE GOING TO BE HURT OVER YOUR SELF FULLFILLMENT, WHEN IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, JUST REACH OUT TO THEM.

  16. A. Bell says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I watched the shows for the past two days, as I do most of the new shows. I have opinions about the dedication of each of the parents involved, filtered through my own experiences.
    I have written a blog on the Dr. Phil Community (on the Dr. Phil website), on Oct, 13, where I blog using the name Christobella, that goes much more into detail, about my wife’s and my marital situations.
    Our marriage has suffered many setbacks, through the years, which include: childhood incestuous molestation (about which I knew nothing until we had been married for two years), paraplegia, many health problems for both of us, and many others I can’t mention with this brief blog response. We have come out with relatively few serious problems with our children, except for one, who has had a considerable problem with drugs.
    In my opinion, the family on these shows represents a classic example of one couple (one of whom has been dedicated to the marriage working, and the other, not). This isn’t to say that the husband was entirely guilt free, (I, at least, didn’t hear anything mentioned about that). The same is true where my wife and I are concerned.
    I agreed wholeheartedly with the advice Dr. Phil gave, where the entire family was asked to get counselling in an attempt to resolve their interpersonal relationships from top to bottom (even the seven-year-old child). I pray that it works out well for all of them.

  17. Kristin says:

    Whether children are young or adults, it is in their best interest for parents to keep children out of relationship conflict. Children of all ages need to know that it is safe to love each parent and that just cannot happen when intimate baggage is shared. Even when it is unavoidable and children find out about affairs or other marriage issues a united front needs to be held by mom and dad that says “this is an issue we will get outside help for. I love you and value your opinions but my relationship with your mom or dad is not something you have to worry about. We both still love you and we need to keep you out of this pain.” This will protect kids and keep them from “overthinking” the situation and will keep responsibility where it belongs.

  18. Kathy says:

    Did I miss something? Carole and Bill were married 19 years but have at least two children older than 21??? I can’t help but wonder about what was missing from their story.

  19. Genea says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I watched both shows and while I am a big fan, I thought you were easy on this mom/wife. I wanted to jump through the TV and tell her to wake up and open her eyes to see how she is hurting her family. She was very flippant in her attitude, laughing and smiling. She couldn’t even show enough respect to her husband to look him in the eyes and barely did with her girls.

    I agree with you, I think people jump to divorce way too quick. And I think it’s because they are focusing on their “happiness”. I couldn’t believe how selfish this woman was acting. Deciding that she wanted to go and “find herself” and so she chooses to leave her husband and 6 girls behind leaving them with the aftermath of her decision. She is a role model to these girls, especially the younger ones who are still being parented. She needs to step up and realize her life is not all about her. Whoever said marriage is easy? It’s frustrating to me because I was married at a very young age, 18. I am now 34 and have been married to the same man for 16 years. I hear you talk about the statistics of that working out all the time on your show and they are very slim. Then when you add a child soon after and we did, 6 months later, the chances of that marriage surviving are even less. We have had some extremely hard times. Times when we weren’t “happy” at all. We could have left each other to go and find that happiness but we made the choice to work on our marriage. I am not sharing this in a prideful way, it was a lot of work and we relied on God’s strength to get us through. I share it because I know marriage is tough but you don’t just give up and you certainly don’t cross a line to get involved with another person. I have two girls and they watch everything I do. I want to teach them to have integrity and grace. I hope they will see that in me and then be able to give that gift to others.

    I hope she takes your advice to go about this the honorable way so she will be able to look herself in the mirror at the end of the day. I also hope she mends things with her daughter. My mom is my best friend, I hurt for the older girls who feel like they have lost their mom.

  20. Becky says:

    My husband and I married when we were 19 and 18 years old, and have been married for 26 years, and have raised a 17 year old daughter. We have had many ups and downs through the years, and I’ve seen some of my friends succumb to the “grass is greener on the other side” and they have always come up the losers in the end. There are times during a long relationship that sometimes the wife’s or husband’s needs aren’t being met but if you keep communication going especially through the rough times, you move through it and come out with a stronger, more loving marriage. Marriage is almost never 50/50, life happens and sometimes one spouse has to give more than the other and vice versa. Everyone has feelings sometimes like, “is this all there is”, but it passes, you re-evaluate your blessings and realize life is good if your spouse loves you, is faithful, is a great parent, etc. that brings things back into focus. Also it is really important to not take your spouse for granted. There is nothing worse to a woman for her husband to stop doing the little things, the little kindnesses that make her feel special as a woman. I think women stray because they aren’t getting their emotional needs met due to complacency in the marriage, then that can lead down the path to a potential affair. I disagree with the previous comment that stated that when you get married you give up your right to individual happiness, this is a very sad way of thinking, there is room for individual happiness within a loving stable marriage, as well as happiness that a couple shares together.

  21. Margo says:

    I really feel sorry for her two older daughters that were so blatantly lied to. This is the worst part of this woman’s behavior. She’s so in denial of her wrong doing to her family that she can’t even understand how horrible her lies are. I think that’s the worst part of cheating. It’s unthinkable that her father and her boyfriend both told these innocent girls to apologize to their mother. This woman should have been on your show begging for forgiveness from her children for her inappropriate behavior. I think you were way to easy on this woman. My 10-year marriage ended the day I discovered my husband had been lying and cheating on me for a year. It took me a while to recover, but I was happily single for a long time before I married again. I’ve been happily married the second time around for twenty of the best years of my life. I hope Bill realizes that he is a wonderful man and deserves better for himself and his family.

  22. Roger says:

    Children need to be kept out of parental problems as much as possible. It is clear that the younger children are being affected by this issue. However, the mother threw everyone of her children smack right in the middle. She is also teaching the younger children to disrespect themselves and men, which is the primary reason they are now having relationship issues. It’s not all her fault, Bill needs to get a stronger too. Whether the older daughters are adults or not, children or not, etc, they weren’t sticking their nose in where it didn’t belong, they were doing exactly what they were raised to do – the right thing. This mother was clearly making changes that were detrimental to the family, and as you reported, were the wrong steps. The daughters clearly saw this, and were strong enough to stick up for their beliefs. Beliefs that were taught to them by their parents. I believe they were being good family members as well as friends to call the mom on the carpet. Should this family reconcile and stay together, thank God the daughters did step up.

    Phil, I commend you on staying compassionate with the mom. My wife cheated on my twice before I stopped fighting for the marriage, so I found it difficult to stay calm. The daughters voiced something that was evident on the mom’s face and was also a strong issue for me not only watching the show but in my own experience – STOP LYING! There have been many lies already, and I believe many still being said, including how far her relationship with her boyfriend has progressed. The daughters clearly don’t believe her, or at least don’t know what to believe anymore, and I believe this is what is hurting the daughters the most. Unless the mom comes clean with everything, moves forward with complete openness, and does so on her own accord, not just because someone else tells her too, there is little hope. She owes that to everyone in her family, and needs to have enough respect for them to be honest. I agree with a previous blogger, the mom will not stop seeing the boyfriend. She is most upset that she can’t have what she wants, which is the best of both worlds, and is upset that whichever she chooses, she loses. She needs to earn back trust from all. It’s not just a parent/child relationship anymore, it is now adults holding adults accountable. What a concept.

  23. Suzanne says:

    I think that it is a wise parent to include and inform their children regarding choices that involve them. Ex; Parents may decide to buy a new home and to make the move comfortable for the children take them to see the new home before you close the deal. Let them have some input. Provide vacation choices if
    the entire family will be going. Let the kids chose activities that have their parents approval. Bigger non-child related issues do not need to be discussed with children. What color I want to do my hair, mini vacations with people they do not know ( I always call home to check in ) does not concern my children. I had permanent eye liner and brows done without informing my daughters. I had my lips done as well. “Wow Mom…you are gonna look great when you are dead” was one respone while the other daughter asked about the pain. I have my own life post parenting just as my adult children do. There is a 32 year difference between my daughters and myself, they cannot even begin to give their opinion on what I want to do.

  24. Gerry says:

    Loved both shows, some of the very best you have ever done, some of the best counseling you have ever given any of your guests.
    The husband’s dilemma really broke my heart, I hate to judge but more than laid-back he seemed weak, so very weak. I really felt sorry for him and I hate feeling sorry for other people.
    That said, there were a couple of things I dind’t find even remotely believeble: the suppossed ignorance from everybody in the family about the teenage daughter’s (being pregnant all the way through birth) & Carole sleeping in the same bed with her “emotional affair” in Vegas (please, don’t tell me you believe that Doc.).
    1) No, I do not think Carole is entitled to her “happiness”, not when she’s taking the whole family down the tubes with her and 2) She seemed way into her new love to change her mind but a decision based on passion rather than brains won’t spare she and her family from a ton of pain.
    Thanks !

  25. Joe M says:

    I was totally appalled at the way Carole was conducting herself on that show, I have never seen a person so intent on concealing her lies to her family. Bill should have divorced her immediately after that show. Carole should be ashamed of the way she has conducted herself and destroyed her family!

  26. Dubya says:

    I will start by saying that just about everything that could be said on this subject and the two programs involved has been said. I will just throw out some old tried and true sayings that You, Dr. Phil might have used at some point.
    As far as to having a say in their mothers recent erratic behavior and deceitfulness toward them…If it quacks like a duck, wattles like a duck..It’s generally a duck..but they only have a right to call her out on hers and their relationship..maybe with a mention that they love their father too and would not like to see him hurt.
    About the affair she has admitted to, If you believe that this just happened recently and that she spent a week in Vegas with her “emotional” lover, sleeping in the same bed at night without so much as one mattress mambo, I have some dry land in the Okefenokee swamp that I would love to sell you. This affair has been going on for a while and there has been more than golf balls played with I guarantee. She has probably cheated and never gotten caught before because once a cheater, always a cheater.(Matter of fact, if I were bill I would be getting paternity tests on all those children.)It’s not the cheating..It’s the thrill of the cheating that is addictive. She confuses her “happiness” with the emotional high of being in the cheating situation. When she leaves her family(when and not if) it will be good for her for a while until she comes down from that high. It would be a mistake for her husband to take her back because she will wind up doing it again later with someone else even, in her present frame of mind.
    Some advice for Bill..Know when to fold’em. Cut your losses and look toward the sunrise. You should take stock of yourself and step out of your shadow. I know you love your wife..But if everyone loved old Sal, there wouldn’t be enough Sal’s to go around. There are good and faithful women in abundance who would cook you enough casseroles to make you fat if they thought it would lead down the isle. You could help yourself too by getting a little makeover. Get some of the Grey out of your hair, change your glasses or get contacts, get a newer jazzier wardrobe, heck, underneath all that stodginess you’re still a good looking guy. Go forth, Kiss the girls and make them cry. Maybe that’s some of what the problem has been all along…not enough off the wall and on the floor monkey bidniss. Keep them guessing, remember, the best defense is a strong offense. In any case you need to cook up something new because as far as this gal goes and about the insincere reaction and hesitation in answering Dr. Phil’s burning question..stick a fork in her cause she’s done.

  27. Sherry M says:

    Dr. Phil: I agree wholeheartedly that children should not have say in what is done between the adults. I do believe that they do have valuable opinions though. I left my childrens father of 13 years after living with his physical and emotional abuse for that same amount of time. I stayed thinking that a family together was better than one that was split. How wrong I was and the whole time not realizing that my children were suffering because of the abuse to me. After I finally left my 9 year old came to me and said, Mom, I am so glad that you left Dad. I used to go to bed and night and pray you would leave him. Through the respect that was instilled into my children as they were growing up, they knew that they were not allowed to turn on a parent and they left it to me (as they should have) to make my decision to leave. After the divorce one of my children tried to disrespect their father and I had to tell them that no matter what that they would still show respect to their father (even though he deserved none). I will not go into further detail on that as I could make an entire week long show on this relationship. The mother in this situation does need to be honest with all the children involved. When the older ones knew what was happening, she did owe them the respect to be honest. When there is complete honesty people can recover and move on. When the lying starts, it tends to sever a perfectly good relationship. My youngest daughter is my best friend and we tell each other everything even though we know they might get upset for a few minutes, but we talk about it and go on. No harm, no fowl because of the honesty. As far as the younger children are concerned, they should know absolutely nothing about this problem whether it comes from the parents or from the older siblings. The younger ones need to be protected at all costs. Even if this family does not stay together, each parent needs more than anything to make sure that each and every child, no matter the age, still has a healthy relationship with the other parent. The worst thing that can happen to this family is for the children to feel as though they have to take sides. (The one was accused of that on the show). The husband appears to be a very nice individual, but as it was pointed out, nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. I can attest to that one. It might only be the fact that he is taking her for granted and needs to do as the one person said, Do something different with your hair. Take her out for a fun filled evening, take her to Vegas. Don’t let some stranger get the first dibs on the FUN aspect of your wife!! Life does set in, but if you recharge from time to time and do the fun things, people tend not to look elsewhere and you will also show your children how to deal with the boring aspects of marriage when they cross that road. I wish this family all the luck in the world as it does appear that these children have been raised with good morals. Hope things work out for them.

  28. kirsten says:

    I had an emotional affair while married. Our daughter was 7 and I never once included her in any of it. After 2 years, I married the man-and it was the best decision I ever made in my life. We have been very, very happily married for 8.5 years, have 2 more beautiful kids, and I can honestly say that life couldn’t be more perfect. Now that the oldest daughter is 17, I still would never consider telling her any of the details of how any of this went down. I believe I have given her a gift in our happy, fun, relaxed family life-as well as the model of a sweet, respectful, humor-filled, intelligent marriage. When you are starving and someone hands you a big, juicy cheeseburger, you really don’t need to see how the cow was brutally slaughtered and processed…:-)

  29. Dubya says:

    Dr. Phil, Please try to set up another show with only the couple sometime in the future after what happens, happens. I really don’t see any real movement to reunite on Carole’s part. Her answer to your question was given grudgingly and I can’t see her going thru with it..especially if she sees and talks with this man on a daily basis at her job. I believe she will quickly move forward to move out and leave her husband, sad but true. Give her time to fall from grace in her affair and have her back on (the chance of this happening is about 90% so if I were your staff I would book it) After the breakup,(and I believe it will happen) I would love to see you work with Bill to improve his confidence from head to toe, inside and out and keep him and her from any contact or sight of each other.. after his total makeover I would love to see him pop in to the show during the time she is on. I think it would be a fantastic scene.

  30. archie and donna ferguson says:

    Dr Phil,

    My husband and I don’t understand(unless we missed it), why wasn’t Bill asked if maybe he was contributing to his wife being so emotional needy.
    Maybe she has been nurturing a double life for yrs, maybe he wouldn’t listen or was too proud to get help. He seems willing to sit and watch their marriage die.
    Perhaps this inaction is a symptom. We feel she took a lot of heat from all the family including you, Dr Phil. There is no justification for any form of infedility so that really didn’t need to be overstated, just understood.
    There are chapters of this story being intentionally left out. This situation probably took root long ago.
    From our own personal experience, 30yrs married, blended family, age difference, oh and throw in a heart attack, cancer and then just a little mental illness,did I mention complete breakdown? Anyway, I am sure you get the picture.
    You can forgive, even forget where there is love as it covers a multitude of things.

  31. Jean says:

    In watching the show about Carole, watching her face closely each time the camera was on her it sure appeared obvous to me she hasn’t or doesn’t give a hoot what she is doing to her husband and her children. Seems with her it is ‘me’ time. The mere fact when Dr. Phil offered her and her husband counciling she sure took her sweet time accepting. To this point my money is on one of two things. She won’t go through with it or she will decide it isn’t in her ‘best interests’. As to the other man I don’t remember if he is married and it doesn’t matter. The only thing she said that I believed was close to true as she felt if she ‘broke it off’ until… he would not be there for her. Heavens to Betsy why should he? I am wondering if Dr. Phil knows the percentage of this sort of situation. Meaning is it 50-50% where the wife or the husband choose this way to live their lives? Turn their back on family ‘just because’? Just because the grass appears greener on the other side?
    Finaly Dr. Phil I feel your time was totally wasted on her. Let her go and ‘hang herself’. If she chooses to not get her life straight before she makes her final decision and as Dr Phil says her new relationship won’t last.

  32. Barbara L says:

    I related to the wife. Although it’s been many years I did an emotional affair. I regret somethings but not others. There is a reason such things happen. I remember when my ex-husband would go right past me while I was anticipating hugs and welcoming him home. Nothing. Nothing for years but the business of raising the 4 kids. So I answered a personal ad and wrote letters to a prisoner! Yes. And it felt good at the time because someone finally listened to me. My heart goes out to her. No one tells the story that is on her heart. I imagine there is one. I am not one to judge her. The thing with the prisoner? It fizzled out soon but it started me thinking about what I could have. It all came out in the open, the kids judged me, but in time they realized I was still the same mother who cared deeply. Almost all healed with time. Boy, was it hurtful. And it hurts me to see this woman hurt as I was. I really wonder about the husband. I am suspicious of him. He sounds good in public, so did my ex.

  33. tom says:

    Dr. Phil, I do not understand why Bill was not showing or talking about any personal hurt, turmoil, anger, or big concern over his wife’s throwing him to the curb for her own personal self gratifications? I feel that he seemed emotionally distant and was on the show just to satisfy someone elses program agenda. I have been a similar situation and as you should know, it is very devastating for a spouse to find out that he/she has been betrayed and lied too. The marriage and what two people had commited to one another in the beginnining is brought to an ugly state of affairs by one person who can not control his/her own behavior and becomes a mean and cruel person which cunfuses and mystifies the spouse. Please adress this side of the issue so your viewers get the whole picture.

  34. Suzanne says:

    Dr. Phil, your show on the emotional affair and the family with 6 children really spoke to me. After 23 years of faithful marriage, I am now in an emotional affair. I love my husband, but he is like a brother to me now. My husband never wanted to deal with issues, and now he can’t. He had a brain tumor 2 1/2 years ago and is now cognitively disabled. He has stage 4 cancer, but is in remission. After caring for him during this difficult time, I am worn out. Enter an old fiance from college days. Polar opposite of my husband. I have seen him once. There is great passion, there is life, there are promises of being cared for way past my dreams. I never, ever thought my marriage could get derailed. I told my husband of this man in Feb., and he did nothing. I went to counseling, and continue to try to talk to my husband, but he has simply not shown me that he is willing to make any other than superficial changes. We have two children grown, 20 and 19, and one at home, age 9. I am 48 years old, have been so lonely for years, and still have a hard time leaving. But I feel there is no hope for my marriage. I have talked and talked to him about my needs, but if he understands, he doesn’t seem to be able to meet me halfway. Because of his disability, I feel great guilt. If he were not disabled and acting this way, I would have clear cause to leave. BTW, he is very high functioning, though has memory loss, aphasia, and urological/sexual problems (though he never had a high sex drive during our marriage). He has always been a quiet man, but now it’s as if he’s an island unto himself. Am I justified in my emotional affair or is it still unacceptable? Thank you.

  35. Tracey D. says:

    Dr. Phil, I could really use some help in this area. I was raised that your respected your parents reguardless. You may disagree with them, but it was to be kept to yourself. They fed me, put a roof over my head and loved me. The rest was none of my business, even though we found things out about our parents. Just because parents make mistakes in their marriage, doesn’t make them a bad parent. I haven’t recently decided to leave my marriage of 17 years, there have been affairs on both sides and even some drug use on his side. Moving out and deciding to move on with my life was the hardest decision that i have ever made in my life. My son is 15 and my daughter is 11. I know tough ages. My son of course blames me for everything and yet his dad is the greatest. I bend over backwards for my kids, but refuse to let them dictate my life. I really could use some help with this.

  36. Nancy says:

    Dr Phil: I watched your show about the woman having an emontinal affair with a man other than her husband and I hope she reads these messages because I have something to say to her. I too had an emontional affair many years ago with my current husband. In the beginning there was no sleeping around but my marriage of 23 years had grown tired and I was married to a very possesive man who was emotionally abusive but not physically abusive. I know it’s hard for your children to believe that your not sleeping with your other love so to speak but I know personally that it can be true because I was not sleeping with mine. Anyway to make a long story short please think long and hard about what your doing. Even though I ended up marrying my then other person and my family has accepted him and think highly of him my life has never been the same.My ex husband did not marry well, my grown children hate her and she really is a evil person who has brought nothing but turmoil into all of our lives but I am the one who allowed that to happen. Plus your family is never the same when grandchildren come it’s difficult to say the least and so many other problems I cannot even mention. Please try hard to make your current marriage work. I did with mine but in all honestly not very hard. It will change things beyond belief and I would not wish that one anyone. Don’t get me wrong I love my current husband but things will never be the same trust me I am living proof.

  37. JP CARTER says:

    I agree with Dr Phil about how older children really have no say in what a parent does. They can give an opinion of course, but are not entitled to tell their Mother what to do!

    As far as the fact that they are not sexually involved…give me a break, same hotel room, same bed…if no sex was going on she must have been wearing a chastity belt and he a suit of armor….I understand that she wanted to save face and admitting such a thing would be hard to do in front of her family…but come on…lets lay all the cards on the table so the healing can begin…J Carter, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

  38. Cathy says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I don’t think it’s safe to say to an adult child “butt out and its none of your business.” I do think children of any age should have a right to say what they feel, with the parent showing respect for how they feel. Having consideration of the impact on their children should be a priority no matter the age. Some children speak their opinions about their parents behavior when the parent is wrong or inappropriate and it can be the only way they have to stand up for themselves. The parent may make decisions differently than what the kids would like, but the kids certainly have a right to say how much of an impact their parents behavior is having on their lives. You set boundaries with your children by trying to behave as a parent and not as someone who tries to be the “friend” instead. To me, you put your emotional well being on the shoulders of your children when you do that and set an example of poor boundaries. That is what this mother on your show is doing. All of these children may not set good boundaries for themselves in their own lives and end up making poor decisions because of this mother’s behavior.

    I worked for a family taking care of their children and had their father make passes at me and sexual remarks, and as an immature 20 something, gave in because it felt good to have that attention. I firmly believe that decision resulted largely from a lack of boundaries myself. I ended up making admission and coming forward for what I’d done and am truly sorry and regretful. It’s something I would never participate in or allow again and it took someone helping me to set boundaries for myself to get to this point.

    During my time with that family, I spent 10 years being involved actively in these kids lives and became a parental figure and someone they had a very strong bond and emotional attachment with. The parents have decided to share great detailed information about the situation and made many negative statements about me to their 13 year old daughter, and 18 year old son at the time, in an attempt to turn them against me and seek revenge. These parents have no boundaries with their children as they did with me (both father and mother) and the kids are paying dearly for it. No consideration was given at all to these children with respect to their love and attachement to me. There is a right way and a wrong way to handle situations of adultery in a marriage and it shouldn’t be at the expense of the children involved, adult or not.

  39. As a child of my parents I do not intervene when they are doing things that I don’t agree with. In my family children didn’t have the right to do that with their friends or their parents. Plus my parents and I have lead different lives since I was 15. We have different values, different beliefs, different personalities.

  40. suenosdeuomi says:

    The issue to me was not if children have a right to voice their feelings – and opinions, of course they do, but more interesting to me is what makes the mother feel and act the way she does. Both shows missed the mark on that essential point. Was it consideration for the presence of the children? The mother seems to act out a mid life crisis, and exploring her issues more in depth may lead to her not having to act out as badly. Women like everything go through stages and the mother must have psychological issues that need attending to at a psychological level, beyond counseling. There seemed to be a significant age difference between mother and father and I wonder if that may have something to do with the mother’s attempt to maybe get back her youth? Dr. Phil, I say don’t skirt around the issues too much, kids can handle more truth then we give them credit for.

  41. K DeMars says:

    Dr. Phil,
    Wow….what a powerful show. I saw my story in many ways. I was also married to a man who did not communicate, had no backbone and until this day (after being apart for 15 months) and now divorced, cannot move on with his life. I too was in an emotional relationship with an old flame of 25 years. He was my emotional rock and someone I could talk to about everything. The difference is that my children are young and were not aware of any turmoil. However, I know exactly why she was dishonest with her kids and her husband, and I’m surprised you never addressed it. First of all, Bill is so weak and wants to avoid the truth, so he is in denial and since he is such a nice guy, she cannot bear to hurt him, even though she is clearly unhappy. She is not dragging him along…..she is hoping he will leave so she doesn’t have to break his heart. That pain is unbearable. Also, she is protecting her children from the hurt. She is filled with guilt but knows that she will never be happy staying with Bill. Right or wrong, her intentions are not to hurt others…
    I am now very happy with the same man, but I still protect my young children and they just think he is my friend, because you can’t just throw a stranger into their life….it is a long slow process so they can get to know him. Unfortunately her kids are older and wiser and can see through the cloud of protection

  42. Sharee says:

    It’s so sad…..I wonder how often people think that when they choose to have an affair, be it emotional or otherwise, how much they affect their own children. If you are going to slack on parenting and lie straight to your kids’ face then yes…….they have say in the situation cuz you thought enough of them to lie to them. Otherwise you should just say it’s not your business. Or …..I don’t know……..get a divorce if you are so unhappy…..work on your marriage perhaps? I know it’s an amazing concept for most married couples.

  43. Christine says:

    I am thankful that my own husband would fight like a dog to keep me. That is what Bill needs to do. If he truly loves Carole, he needs to be the bull dog and keep her, it may require that he do more than just sit back and let her get emotionally involved with another man. He has work to do too–but I do appreciate that he is willing to take her back and work on it. I hope the marriage is saved, they have what it takes to make it work.

  44. Keri says:

    You need to do some research regarding women who do not realize they are pregnant until the delivery. There are special shows regarding this on television all the time. I think you owe several women an apology for your attitude regarding this issue.

  45. Marian says:

    Although it has been way too many years and events away from fixing our family, I only wish one of us would have confronted my mom and dad before they fractured my family. I am 57 years old and it has only been in the last three years that my siblings and I have found the togetherness we had as children. We were a close family living in a house we loved, in the town we loved and with the people we loved. Infidelity on both sides led my parents to divorce. It divided us in camps of some of us standing up for mom and the rest taking dad’s side. It led to neglect, aloholism, drug addiction, battering relationships, and mental breakdowns throughout out family unit. The sad part is that although mom and dad went through the rest of their lives with separate partners they never got over the love they had for each other. As times passed their friendship and love rekindled, but it was too late for their family and their marriage. They loved each other until dad died 14 years ago. If only one of us stood up to them and made them accountable to the family unit before they slashed it to pieces.

  46. Linda Rose says:

    I couldn’t help wondering watching Carole and Bill when their communication broke down? Marriage works best when the needs of both parties are met.When one partner feels neglected they certainly should tell their spouse. Did Carole ever tell Bill what was missing in her life? Bill seemed distant and emotionaless. Is this how he has been in their marriage? Or is it because of her infidelity?

    Regardless there is no excuse for infidelity. If there is physical or emotional abuse it certainly may be right to end the marriage. Anything else can be worked out.

    Cheating though is different and there is no justifying it for any reason. If Carole was abused by Bill she should end the marriage before getting involved with someone else.If she wasn’t abused she needs to own up to her wrong . They both then need to decide whether they want to stay married? If they do decide to stay together they need counseling and he needs to forgive her as do her daughters.

    The daughters need to stay out of their parent’s problems after stating their opinions.After that grown children shouldn’t interfere in parents lives no more than parents should interfere in theirs. Shame on parents who violate their marriage vows! Look at all the hurt it causes to their families.

    Grown children can be hurt by their parents actions just as younger children can. Parents who blantantly ignore their marriage vows and give in to temptation are being selfish and are doing untold harm to their children. Shame on Carole for putting her children in this position.

  47. Linda Darroch says:

    I could not believe this womans’ nonsense!! Is she having a mid-life crisis or what? Her husband Bill is a very good looking man, and he should seriously give up on Carole and find somebody else. I do believe she is sleeping with the so-called boyfriend, and is trying to fool us all by telling us she can lay in bed with him and nothing happens. Who is she trying to kid?? I really think she has no intention of staying with Bill, so why even bother giving her relationship counselling? It will just be a waste of time for her. You can tell that everytime the boyfriend was mentioned, a big smile came across her face, yet when Bill was mentioned, there was no happy expression on her face at all. Just do not understand what she is going through, maybe a second childhood? Who knows???
    BUT DR.PHIL, Please tell us that you will be doing a follow – up with this family, will be interesting to find out if she stays for the sake of her husband and family, or if she chooses the boyfriend instead. I will bet that she chooses the boyfriend over Bill, but just want my suspicions confirmed. Pleaase, please, do a follow up for all of us curious, loyal fans of yours!!! Thanks

  48. Linda Darroch says:

    I could not believe this womans’ nonsense!! Is she having a mid-life crisis or what? Her husband Bill is a very good looking man, and he should seriously give up on Carole and find somebody else. I do believe she is sleeping with the so-called boyfriend, and is trying to fool us all by telling us she can lay in bed with him and nothing happens. Who is she trying to kid?? I really think she has no intention of staying with Bill, so why even bother giving her relationship counselling? It will just be a waste of time for her. You can tell that everytime the boyfriend was mentioned, a big smile came across her face, yet when Bill was mentioned, there was no happy expression on her face at all. Just do not understand what she is going through, maybe a second childhood? Who knows???
    BUT DR.PHIL, Please tell us that you will be doing a follow – up with this family, will be interesting to find out if she stays for the sake of her husband and family, or if she chooses the boyfriend instead. I will bet that she chooses the boyfriend over Bill, but just want my suspicions confirmed. Please, please, do a follow up for all of us curious, loyal fans of yours!!! Thanks

  49. 1963Isa says:

    My feelings and intellect tells me that the mother of the two girls you have on from your first dr. phil family is in reality bullying her children and always has it is a source of manipulation she, who by alrights pick a crappy man above her children for years is now betraying her daughter like she emotionally always has and putting her own crud on them I really hope doctor phil seriously looks at her history cuz it hasn’t changed and it isolation and abuse she’e trying to practice on her daughter.

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