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November 11th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Every Parent's Worst Nightmare

abducted1If you have trouble holding back your emotions while watching Thursday’s show on child abductions, I more than understand. In the years I’ve been doing this show, I really always try to remain professional,  maintain my composure and stay focused on the guest’s feelings rather than my own.  This show was a challenge because as a father I was thinking, “But for the grace of God, go I.”

In fact, when I walked out of the studio with Robin at the end of that taping, I squeezed her hand tighter than usual. It made us both want to run and hug our children long and tight.  It doesn’t matter that our kids are now grown. When I talk to these parents going through the pain of dealing with the abductions of their children, I can’t help but think of the horror that I would have felt if something like that had happened to one of our two sons. Despite the fact that I’m a mental health professional, I’m not sure I would be able to handle such a scenario. To be real honest with you, I’m not sure if I would be able to cope at all.  It is an Achilles’ heel I know I have.

We did the show for several reasons, including giving these parents a platform from which to speak and to hopefully provide some information and tools for all of the parents out there that want to be sure they are vigilant in protecting their own children. The strength and heart of these parents will inspire you, as they have inspired me.  It is worth a look, promise.

Here are some articles from DrPhil.com to help safeguard your children:

Top Five Ways for Parents to Protect Children
Teach Your Kids About Stranger Danger
Protecting Your Children
Missing Persons Resources

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66 Responses to “Every Parent's Worst Nightmare”

  1. Tia Rutter says:

    Being a mother of a 2 year old myself, It is gut wrenching to hear about abductions or child deaths. I could NOT imagine. No parent should ever have to go through such a horrific event.

    I remember after my son was born, waking up at night for the first several months just to make sure he was still breathing. I could NOT imagine if something ever happened to him.

  2. ONEgoodREASON says:

    I’m sorry I haven’t seen the show, cause I live in Norway and I think we air them some weeks after they go live.
    But still I want to make some comments on this very important topic. In our country we don’t have many abductions done by strangers each year, but I know for a fact that it happens daily or at least there are daily attempts to abduct, and they are all made by familymembers. Our country is not that big (4,7mill), so daily is a lot.
    Like you, Dr. Phil, I don’t know how it actually feels like being in the situation that a child is lost, but I know to well the fear of losing the child.
    I have been living that nightmare the last 2-3 years.
    Ever since I found out I was pregnant in february 2007, my exhusband (left me some days before I found out I was pregnant) has planned to take the baby out of Norway and to his homecountry Egypt. He told me one time when I was three months pregnant, and along with a lot of threats to make my car explode with my family inside it, kill me, follow me everywhere, “bully” my mother and the rest of my family and so on, he made my pregnancy into 9 months of always looking over my shoulder. Even at hospital I stayed under a false name to make sure my son and myself was safe.
    Since then he has lived on social welfare and used the system to the fullest. He was given free legal aid and almost every week I got a call, a letter og a legal document from his lawyer that I had to pay a lot of money to my lawyer to answer. Then he dragged me to court two times to see his son, but all he really wanted, was the document from the judge saying he “saw his son” so he could apply for a visa to stay longer in Norway. Then during on of the trials, two of his friends told the judge he had been to the egyptian embassy and applied to get an egyptian passport for my son. His friends also told in court what that there where detailed plans for the trip made out, and that my exhusband only needed to take me to court one more time, so he could get a deal that said friday to sunday (not only some hours).
    Now he took me to court one more time, and it was 3 days of lies, bullshit, and attacks from his lawyer and him that I was not prepared for at all. So he almost got what he wanted. May 2010 he will be able to have my (our) son two weekends a month. Until then its 3-4 hours in the afternoon one day each week (I am free to send someone with my son to make sure nothing happens from now till April)…
    I know he has plans to take my son out of the country, away from me.
    He has told his closest friends from the day he found out I was pregnant.
    He has also told a lot of people he will not allow his son to grow up with a christian mum, in a christian enviroment and with a family that teaches him christian values.
    His friends has told us that he can not visit his family and friends in Egypt without his son. It is a matter of honor, and his family will lose face if people in their neighbourhood find out my exhusband does not raise his son.
    This is my life. Still always looking over my shoulder. Being very careful about whos babysitting. Looking twice when new staff is working at my sons kindergarden. Shopping my groceries at places my ex never goes.

    And – wishing May would never come…

  3. Michele says:

    I understand how you want to go home and hug your kids, even if they are older. My daughter lives 3000 kms away from me, but I hve to talk to her everyday, she’s 33. Becoming a grandparent 9 years ago, I think you worry more. You’ll see. :)

  4. Kim Smith says:

    The Mother who is afraid of her 10 year old needs serious parenting skills. DUH, wake UP! It will be a cold day when I fear my CHILD! I have 4 children, 21 son, 8 daughter, 6 daughter, 5 son. I’m a second degree black belt. I have spanked my 21 year old 2 times in his life, both were darn good reasons. I taught my children respect is a 2 way street, if you want it, you give it. In order to give it, you must have it first for yourself. They’ve been taught the word honor and respect from the time they could understand english as I’ve drilled it into them. If you respect yourself, you don’t: lie, hurt, destroy, blame etc. The list goes on and on and on. Parents need to DRILL this and the world really could be a better place. Just think, if every child learned to Honor and Respect him or herself, oh, what a world!

  5. Jenn Davis says:

    I Missed the show on abductions, but I know how the parents are feeling because we are living that nightmare right now as I sit here typing this.
    My husband and I have 5 children–a very blended family. August 17, 2008, our family was ripped apart by a parental abduction. Our middle daughter (our daughter by choice and not by DNA) was at the center of a complicated custody case. We have been raising her since she was 2yrs old. Been in her life since before she was even born. Her biological mother was in and out of her life. It was more like she was a “mom of convienience”, she was there when she needed to fill a need in her own life. The biological father was never in the picture. Until we filed our custody petition in August 2007, we didnt even know his name. He met his biological daughter for the first time April 19, 2008, after a judge in our case gave him very specific supervised visitations. Unfortunately, the counselor doing the visitations decided it was ok for him to begin unsupervised after only 4 short visits in her office.
    I drove my little girl to her visit that morning and on the way I called her attorney so he could hear her screaming and begging not to go. She kept crying telling me”Mommy, I dont want to go! Mommy I want to stay home with you and Daddy!” The attorney told me to take her and we would re-evaluate the situation after her visit that day. I pried my little girl’s arms from around my neck, I kissed her, told her I loved her, that she would have a good time with her “other daddy” and that I would see her back there at 5:30pm when I would take her home and finish getting things ready so she could start 1st grade the next day. I then placed her in her biological fathers arms and told her goodbye. I watched him walk away with her, only stopping long enough when she yelled back at me, “Mommy, I love you, can I have a hug?” He let me hug her one last time, I again told her I loved her and I got in my van and drove away before she saw me crying. That was the last time I have seen or spoke to my daughter.
    August 17, 2008, is a day that will forever be in my head and my heart. It is the day my family was ripped apart! It is the day my heart was shattered into a million pieces and my childrens lives were flipped upside down. Since that day our family has not been the same. For the last 15 months and 7 days, we have struggled to cope with the loss of our daughter. We have struggled to help the other 4 children cope with it as well. I close my eyes and I see my daughter crying and reaching out to me, I hear her pleading with me to stay home. I am so full of guilt and fear every day, I can barely handle my daily routine. Some days I cannot even focus long enough to wash dishes. I cry al the time. I cannot look my children in the face because I feel I have failed them as a Mom. I try so hard to hold it together for my other children and my husband who are all hurting as well. We struggle to get media coverage to get her face into the homes of millions and to bring her home, but again, I have failed there as well.
    August 17, 2008, MYSTIC DAWN SALAZAR went missing while on a visit with her NON-CUSTODIAL, ABSENT SINCE BIRTH, ILLEGAL ALIEN, BIOLOGICAL FATHER in Grand Junction, Colorado.

  6. Leslie Henry says:

    My 9 year old little girl is being sexually harassed by a 17 year old. The court wants to dismiss the case because the step-father is a Lt. Colonel in the Military. I am a single, disabled mother and I don’t know what to do.

  7. Holly Mclemore says:

    Dear Dr. Phil, I am writing to you concerning a woman by the name of Raye Dawn who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 27 yrs because “she should have known”. Raye Dawn’s 2yr old daughter Kelsey who was killed by her step father Michael on oct 11th 2005 inOklahoma while Raye Dawn was gone to pick up his daughter from school. This story involves a paternal grandmother named Kathie who launched a huge hate campaign against Raye Dawn who was married at one time to her son Lance’s biological father. Raye Dawn could have not said it any better “what does a child molester and child killer look like?” Raye Dawn loved Kelsey very much and would have never let anyone harm her.
    This was a high profile case that involves money, hate and lies that took place in 2007 and is still being Im asking that you look into this story. and check it out for your self. I think this would make an interesting story to put on your show, Im not saying everyone has to agree but please just take a minute to look into Rayes story thank you very much

  8. Nancy Starnino says:

    Dr. Phil,
    Regarding today’s show (Nov. 24th) I may have not gotten the whole story right, but my conclusion is that the reason the boy poops in his underwear is because HE DOES NOT WANT TO GO TO PRESCHOOL. When his mother asked him, he said “no” so that’s why he keeps pooping!!! I would love to have your comments.Thanks.
    (Note: I don’t have children of my own)

  9. Carol says:

    I truly understand how you feel on this matter. My greatest fear while my children were growing up was their disappearance through abduction. My heart hurts for parents, grandparents, siblings of missing children. Having a loved one missing is so terrible and can’t imagine survivng or coping with it.

  10. Dr. Phil,
    I was abducted in 1956 when I was 13 years old, had his child when I was
    fourteen. My son never knew he was a product of a child stealing pedafile, whom by the way, went to prison for only TWO YEARS.

    I was away for one year and three months. Most of the first few months he locked me in the trunk of his car.
    My family has been after me for many years to write a book. I’m now at a place where that is exactly what I want to do. I have so much I can say that may be helpful to other young girls and boys as well as their parents. I’ve never written a book and would like some expert advise from you. There is so much to say that I may have to write two books. I overheard a comment by “well meaning folks” saying “who would want to adopt the little bastard who is a product of rape”… I kept my son, I loved him dearly and only thought of him as mine and nobody elses’. My son was murdered in 1998. The emptyness in my heart will stay forever. I did set everything aside for a while as I have a daughter who is married to a wonderful man and they have a beautiful son, age 2. Life is for the living and that is why I set my son’s case aside for a while in order to give my daughter my attention, it wouldn’t have been fair to her to have my head into my sons death when she is in essence saying what about me? And, to not cheat myself out of so much happiness derived from my daughter and her family.
    But, now I want to write my book/books. My life has been pretty traumatic at times, I’ve looked inside myself for the courage and strength to rise above the torn family of my youth in order to be a good mother and grandmother. Hope to hear from you one day soon.
    I listed the website where you can look up my son’s case. Please don’t print the website.

  11. Tracey says:

    A big hello from, “Down Under”.!My family and I find your show a wonderful teaching tool and very found it to be very imformative and we have implimented some of your advice to our own daily lives. Keep up the fantastic work in helping to educate us all!

  12. Jenny says:

    What is the name of the book from Thursdays. (Parent’s worst nightmare?)

  13. paula says:

    shelly may be wrong but she may be right . she feels shes protecting those babies .she carried them around for 9months protecting them and keeping them safe. hearing what she heard in court, wouldn’t you feel it would be heavy on her mind that, what if she ran from voices while driving with the babies in the car and had a fatal accident. think about that before you judge shelly.

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  15. Warner says:

    This is one of the most powerful discussions I ever studied today, I’m talking about this component of your article “… there that want to be sure they are vigilant in protecting their own children. The strength and heart of …” this is it, you just smashed it down buddy.

  16. WATKINS MISSING CHILDREN: I have written into your show many times and posted on your show’s blog. I never seem to get a response. I know from watching you that you read all you comments. Please respond to this one. I have an incredible story to share. My story was just released for the first time on the News Wire 2 hours ago. It had been reported locally but no one knew about this case. It’s been 23-months since I have seen my sons, Alexander & Christopher Watkins, when they were abducted into the United States and then Europe on March 6th, 2009. I have NOT stopped searching. Actually, I have been so proactive that I was interview last week by the US State Department to help them understand how to use social networking to help find missing children / people. I also provide some advice to the Toronto Police Services as they were the FIRST in the world to launch a social media department to find missing children online last April 2010. I know my sons were were going to be abduction and I did everything in ADVANCE to stop it. I also contacted and worked with a missing child organization in advance. In the end, the family courts and poor security at our boarders was the reason they escaped. I have written letters to the Prime Minister which is posted on CNN iREPORTS for all to see. The Prime minister office responded within 2 days and just before the meeting with the US President on February 4th. I also have much information posted online. Just Google Watkins Missing Children. My ex-wife Edyta Ustaszewski Watkins, assisted by her father, who did not have custody, left Canada and traveled around the world with her Canadian Passport which was “Canceled” 42-days by the Canadian Government prior to my sons abduction. This has been confirmed in writing by two sources. It has been frustrating getting this news out as media and people are having a hard time believing that this can happen. There are NO Exit Strategy controls in North America. My sons well documented International Child Abduction has shown a major border security problem which I did not anticipate nor would anyone else for that matter. I am fighting to locate my sons in Canada’s worst International Child Abduction as per reported by the RCMP on MAy 25th, 2010. My ex-wife is also on Canada’s Most Wanted list which you can see online through the RCMP. You help in airing my story would not only help locate my sons but also make people aware that in the United States and in Canada, there their needs to be better border security controls. Currently you can EXIT your country and enter another as NO one is electronically scanning your passport. I believe in both the US and in Canada, your passport can be Canceled / Revoked if you have a criminal conviction or if you do not pay your child support and it exceeds $10,000. This is what happened to my ex-wife. She just packed up her bags, took the children on her weekend access and got driven over the boarder to the US by her father then She then flew with my sons to Germany. What’s the point to issue Passports if you can LEAVE your country and enter another one. The US and Canadian border security say the verify passports. They are NOT telling the public that they are ONLY visually seeing if your picture matches and you passport is current. There is NO electronic checks to see if passports are canceled. Your help Dr. Phil to air my sons story will help find them and to put pressure on our governments to correct border procedures. Thank you so much!
    (I am also registered on your show for contact information)

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