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September 16th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Mommy Meanest?

blog9039_1In all the years I’ve been doing this show, I’ve never seen an audience react as strongly as during the taping of “Mommy Confessions.” I happened to look around the studio and noticed my wife, Robin, in tears. The video of a child’s sobs as he’s forced to stand in a cold shower as punishment literally took over the stage. It brought up emotions so powerful, I don’t know that there was a dry eye in the building. In fact, Robin told me that it was the first time she ever wanted to get up and walk out.

Jessica, a mother of six, sent me that shocking video. She admits to having difficulty disciplining her adopted 7-year-old son, Kristoff, and says that she’s tried other methods, but nothing works. Before you judge too harshly, remember that this 35-year-old, college-educated mom came to the Dr. Phil show for help and guidance. For Jessica, the cold shower — along with other punishments, such as pouring hot sauce in the young boy’s mouth — is a last resort to scare her son into behaving.

I want to make one thing clear: the video you see was not taped by the Dr. Phil show. Had it been, we would’ve intervened immediately. Jessica’s 10-year-old daughter shot the video, and Jessica sent it in as a desperate cry for help. Here’s what I want you to think about as you watch this episode: There are more mothers out there like Jessica than you think. In fact, in a recent study about anger, the University of Toronto found that among 1,800 Americans, moms with young kids are the angriest.

blog9039_2You may call women like this “Mommy Meanest,” and think only bad moms allow their emotions to get out of control when disciplining their kids. But it was brave of Jessica to show us her true colors, and admit to how angry and overwhelmed she feels, and to show us exactly who pays the price. Like so many mothers, her day begins at the crack of dawn and is spent getting all six kids ready for school and out the door. She says she only has two hours to finish the household chores — laundry, bills, cleaning. By the end of the day, she admits that she’s exhausted and quick tempered, and says Kristoff’s behavior pushes her to the edge.

I’m sure many of you have had days when you’re at the end of your rope with your kids. You may even have a moment or two where you’ve snapped at your children that you wish you could take back. I’d like to hear from you. What parenting mistakes have you made? Or, on the other hand, what did you do to control yourself and defuse the situation? Do you think it’s possible for a mom like Jessica to change? This is an important conversation we need to have.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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563 Responses to “Mommy Meanest?”

  1. Alejandra says:

    Dr. Phil, this boy will greatly benefit from the Bach Flower Therapy. So many people that attend your show would benefit from it. Please contact me. My mother would be glad to help and provide advise on this treatment as she is certified by the Bach Flower Centre in London.

  2. Kerri says:

    Dr. Phil, viewers, and particularly Jessica Beagley:
    I cannot even identify this individual as a human being by using a name, so I am simply referring to “her” as J.B.
    I am so disgusted at what I’ve just watched, the video of J.B. discliplining her ADOPTED child. Through my tears, I found myself vomitting in the sink, I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom. How dare she call herself a mother! We are granted the awesome right of parenthood, and our job is to raise respective children. Is this respectful?? Was SHE treated this way as a child?? Does she treat her biological children this way?? Even now, as I type, I cannot hold back the tears.
    J.B. adopted him, and within that adoption, lies the promise of a better life: who can really say this life is better for him than where he came from? And who would?? Homeless: yes. But LOVED! Ask HIM, does he FEEL loved here? Did he feel love from his parents in Russia, despite sleeping in a wardrobe??
    It is ludicrous that by “law” J.B. is not being abusive. There is not a word to encompass the feeling of dissapointment and disgust I feel towards our legal system, to allow this child to remain in J.B.’s care. There is a bigger law, the law of a HUMAN BEING! And there are plenty other reactions, that agree with me. Is this what we’re advertising to our parent population: as long as you don’t physically injure the child, it is not considered abusive?? Perhaps you cannot SEE any physical injury at the moment it happens, or directly thereafter. What about what we don’t see: the acid from the hot sauce eating away at his teeth, and precious tissues INSIDE his mouth and throat? And do not tell me standing in a cold shower doesn’t have it effects either! What about the psychological issues J.B. is creating for him?? DON’T tell me there were no other options! There are plenty of other options! Was he not evaluated and now receiving therapy as a result of being on the show?? Why on earth was that not an option for J.B. BEFORE?! SHE was not resourceful enough to utilize any and all other options, and for that, we are REWARDING J.B. by granting her custody!! HOW does that say to other parents: DO NOT abuse your child?? HOW??? All that says is: do it so it doesn’t show! How does she think she was helping him??
    That little boy will forever be effected, and WE let it happen, because WE are the people who vote for the people who make these things happen. WE are the jury! I would take that little boy into my home! PLEASE, I absolutely will!! And the worst of all of this: NOTHING will happen. J.B. will not be punished. J.B. will not seek help for herself. And mostly, that little boy, will never be the same…will never know a normal life, of a family that loves him…and forever carry that with him in life. The realization of living in a sad, and cruel world, is only becoming more evident.

  3. Lisa says:

    You asked us not to judge? Well too damn bad. My son’s behavior can be so horrendous at times, it would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. He has pediatric bipolar disorder. I have never, ever abused him physically or emotionally. One time in all of his short 10 years I slapped him on the arm after he bit my leg so hard he drew blood. I still get sick to my stomach remembering that incident and my loss of control, yet this mother barely flinched while the video of her disgusting abuse was played. And she has done this several times! Feeling no remorse equals a cold heart, in my opinion, not a last resort as you say.

  4. GARY says:

    ive spent the last hour doing what i need to reg/log on/sign up just so i could get the message out.WHAT ABOUT THE FATHER WHY ISNT HE BEING CHARGED.i know for a fact that THE COLD SHOWER WAS HIS IDEA.god help those childern.HE NEEDS TO BE HOSED DOWN WITH A FIRE HOSE.

  5. Christy Shears says:

    I know there is a lot of abuse to children and always has been, but I feel we as a society are always looking at for physical signs and do not recognize the emotional abuse a lot of children endure. I personally know this is a lot harder than the physical abuse. I know people who put their children in situations then threaten them if they tell, I cannot imagine how hard this is. Are there not signs to show this type of abuse? There are many children who are afraid of their parent/parents and do not know what to do, Dr. Phil what can a child do and be protected.

  6. Karla says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I sat in my home this morning watching your show. We seem to be a little behind here (Ireland) I noticed this show is from August 2011.
    I felt physically sick, cried, called my husband in work. I am a mum to 3 boys and totally understand the stresses and strains of every day life. But this is very different, I would lie all the time to avoid the punishment she gives. She punishes because he was in trouble in school, well the reason he is lashing out in school is because of the her treatment of this young boy in his home. A place where he should be safe, loved, have parents who he can depend on. Not be afraid off.
    To think that her 10 year old daughter filmed this surley should make her see that even kids can see what she is doing is wrong. His sobs in that cold shower will haunt me.
    Please please undate on this little boy, I am hoping he was removed from this woman and her husband. In fact Im surley her husband and her mother should also be held accountable for sitting by and doing nothing.
    She makes claims he is the only child like this..the other kids in the house deal with life differently. She stated the twin is withdrawn…..IF COURSE HE IS – he sees the abuse his brother gets and must think to himself if he asks her permission for everything then he can avoid being treated the same.
    This woman should never have been allowed adopt. I dont think she is fit to even hold onto her biological children.

  7. Sharon says:

    Dear Dr Phil,,
    it is Wednesday the 7th of December in Australia,,and i have just watched your show as i do every day of the week at 12pm. OH MY GOD!!!!! iv just sat here and listened to u saying that in particular countries this is not child abuse!!!!! im totally horrified!!!! i have three children of my own and would NEVER EVER dream of doing anything like that to my children..im just speechless and write this through tears,,and totally agree with kerri,, i realize we are very much behind on your show,but i just had to write this ,,i hope this little boy is doing ok

  8. brenda says:

    dear dr phill,

    aim brenda from holland and i look this show this week! my god how is this happend?? you want to help this boy! take is away from this mother!! i was crying to see this!! here in holland we do not accept this! this was a show that i hate!! i was crying for this little boy!!
    i want that mom for 5 min alone!!!!
    aim a mother from 2 girls!! never never you can do this on your child!!!
    and you give her help??? sorry help this boy, to go get out of this house!!!!!
    sorry for my englisch its not so good!!
    greatings from brenda from holland!!

  9. Michelle says:

    Dr. Phil
    I am a single mother two beautiful children both of which are AD/HD and the youngest also has Aspergers’. I often find myself letting my emotions & stress get the better of me and while I have never physically lashed out at my children I have lashed out verbally to them. Especially my daughter who often has many uncontrollable outburst or what I call”spells”. While I love my daughter so very much I find that when we are the most tired or there is a lot of things going on for us is when I lash out the most. I hate to see that many of these people are judging this mother who just seems to allow her emotions to get the better of her. I do not believe anyone can truly know what this particular mother is having to deal with on a daily basis.

  10. Ellen says:

    I agree that this behaviour is simply abusive – to the extreme. I like what Lisa, who has the child with pediatric bi-polar disorder, had to say. I had a mother who abused this way and in other psychological ways as well. As it turned out, my mother was NPD and I did not learn this until late in life. She continually made all her problems the problems of another person, particularly her children. It would appear that this is what this mother is doing. I was a single mother for seven years of two special needs children while I was attending Journalism school. One child has Down Syndrome and the other has mild Tourette’s Syndrome, OCD and a learning disability (although he is far above average intelligence). I had to learn to manage this situation using win win techniques, all of which are readily available in this Informaiton laden culture we now have. On top of this, I had absolutely no family support and minimal financial assets to lessen the stress level. Yet, now, my two are seen as being very well adjusted, obedient, happy, healthy children. It just takes some growing up and reaching out before one gets to the point of no return. It sounds to me like this mother is way over her head in terms of ability to be an adult, perhaps because she has some kind of psychological issues herself. Dr. Phil, I am not judging, just making some valid points. Add what I have said to the fact that I do believe in corporeal discipline for children but that would be within certain guidelines. Spanking on the backside or a slap on the back of the hand. What I have learned, however, is that most children respond well to reality discipline. I think this young mother needs to be assessed to determine what her psychological status is. Something is just not right here…

  11. Jan Moore says:

    My grandparents had a ranch in Colorado. During the Depression, they took in teenagers who had no place to go. My Grandma used to say that it was easier the raise someone else ’s children than it was your own. I don’t know if this is true or not in general, but it seem to be true for me. I have 5 of my own from births and one of my own from someone else s birth. This child was easier than my birth children. He is such a good kid! So, I don’t believe that she has had more problems with her adopted child than her natural child is the problem.

    I suspect that the cause is more in the line of having too little time, the fact that she needs some time off, not having good parenting skills, her age, or any number of problems in her life.

    However, it is important that the issues be addressed and the problems need to have a workable solution. If this doesn’t happen, I can tell you from experience that her children will suffer the consequences of their rearing for the duration of their lives.

  12. It is unfortunate the child had to experience this type of discipline by his caregiver/mother and likewise it is not an experience she will look back at later and be proud of either. There is no win situation here. Whatever reasons the mother believed she had at the time, need to be exposed so she will be better guided with healthy choices of what love can be and is. For the young lad, at least it is not too late to intervene before he defines love by his negative experiences.

  13. Pam Sheets says:

    I see both sides of this issue. Unfortunately I didn’t see this episode. I wish I had so I’m only commenting based on what I read here, and my own life experieces. I am a mommy grandma, raising my second family as I adopted two of my grandchildren. I adopted their mother after an abusive and neglectful situation she was in and didn’t know that child until she was 4 years old. That adoption changed my life forever. I am now raising the second generation of that family. My adopted daughter from over 20 years was and still is so difficult. We were naive’ and uneducated in dealing with a child with her problems. Mental illness, severe reactive attachment disorder, and on some level of the spectrum fetal alcohol effects. It took us years to understand what we were dealing with. Our biological children went without our time and attention while she got most of it. Then she turns 18 and goes on to have not only our two children, but two more. None of which she can care for. We have tried to help her as an adult and have paid the price financially and emotionally for that too so we chose to protect the children. Now I raise the “belly mommy’s” child who was diagnosed with pediatric bi-polar, the younger one has the learning delays. It ain’t easy folks. We want to tarnish this woman but have you tried to work all day, then come home and care for these children who have “melt downs” and won’t do one thing you ask of them and your world is just chaos? Really? Because if you had, you might reach out to help someone who is struggling with this but I find that most people are so busy themselves they just don’t have time or they are afraid to take a child like this into their home. They struggle with relationships at home, with peers, and it is tough. Then we reach out to professionals and the system is “bogged down” with waiting lists and it’s expensive to get help. We are not on a Dr. Phil show getting sent to a very expensive treatment center for help for our child/ren. Please don’t judge. If you really want to help, then wherever you live, reach out to a parent in need and don’t just do the talk, do the walk. If you see a grandparent raising their grandchildren offer to take the kids for a night. They don’t have grandparents, parents, or other people to do it. If you see a parent with a big job, offer to provide some respite time. Easy to say when you are not the one living it.

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