In 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.
You 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.