Parenting Disaster: Extreme Excuses

August 22, 2013
Darcy says that her sister and brother-in-law’s home is in a state of complete chaos — and their four children, ages 8 to 16, are paying the price. With this family in dire need, Dr. Phil has a no-nonsense plan for getting everyone back on track.







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Jennifer and RalphDarcyJenniferRalphThe couple's daughter, KaylaKayla and her boyfriend, BenBenJenniferKristen Hayes

A Failing Family

Darcy says that her sister, Jennifer, and brother-in-law, Ralph’s, home is in a state of complete chaos and their four children, 16, 12, 10 and 8, are acting out as a result. “Ralph and Jennifer are each a mess, but combined, they are a parenting disaster,” she says. She says Jennifer and her husband, Ralph, have no rules, their kitchen is bare, the electricity is often shut off and their young children play, often unsupervised, with knives, BB guns, lighters and matches — and they recently set a fire in a local forest 20 feet high and 5 feet wide. Darcy says while the children are getting in trouble, Jennifer sleeps, smokes, talks on the phone and drinks coffee. “Jennifer has completely checked out,” she says.

Darcy says that Ralph puts smoking marijuana and drinking ahead of the needs of his family. She says she and her family have spent tens of thousands of dollars on rent, cars, groceries, utilities, school clothes and birthday parties for Jennifer and Ralph’s children.

Jennifer’s eldest daughter, Kayla, 16, says her home life is chaotic and that Ralph has gotten violent with her siblings. She says she felt forced to drop out of high school to take care of them.

Ralph concedes that he’s struggling to provide for his family financially and has made mistakes as a parent, including being too harsh, but says he’s now too lenient. He blames Jennifer’s parenting for the state their family is in. “I believe that Jennifer has a hard time disciplining the kids because of the medication and depression that she has,” Ralph says. “They are normal, active kids, but because of the lack of discipline, it gets out of control.”

Jennifer admits that she’s detached from her family, struggles with depression and has trouble maintaining the household. She says that she lets the kids stay home from school because she doesn’t have the energy to fight with them, and recently her 12-year-old was reported for truancy. “It’s hard to believe that this is what our bad choices have resulted in,” Jennifer says.

“A lot of children are going through a lot worse than what our children are going through.” Dr. Phil takes on Ralph.

Jennifer opens up about two terrifying incidents that she says she witnessed between Ralph and their young children. “I’ve yet to divorce him, and I don’t know why.”



Jennifer says she feels “disgusted” by Ralph and is carrying on an emotional affair with an old boyfriend. “This man is the love of my life.”

Jennifer reads a heartbreaking letter from her 10-year-old son. “Mom, would you please kill me in my sleep?”


A Plan for Change

Kayla says that when she was 15, she had sex with a 21-year-old, and when her mom found out, she didn’t press charges. Now, 16, Kayla says she lives in her family’s home with her 18-year-old boyfriend, Ben, whom she's sexually active with, while her younger sister sleeps in the nearby bedroom closet.

Jennifer says that there are currently six warrants out for her arrest for outstanding unpaid traffic violations, and she is concerned that if she is arrested, Darcy will call CPS.

Kayla says she has a plan to raise her three younger siblings. “It’s not just a dream; it’s going to happen, because it has to happen,” she says.

“Stop having unprotected sex while your sister is in the closet — stop having unprotected sex anywhere.”

Dr. Phil details all the toxic elements in Jennifer and Ralph’s home.



“It can’t be what it’s been anymore,” Jennifer tells Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil acknowledges that Ralph had a difficult childhood and is modeling what he knows. “Nobody does what you are doing on purpose,” he tells him.

Dr. Phil offers Ralph parenting and drug and alcohol resources. Ralph accepts the offer of help.

Dr. Phil tells Jennifer that she is dealing with depression and biochemical imbalances and offers her help, which she accepts.

Dr. Phil then offers to remove the three youngest children from the home and get them structured help via the Aspen Education Group. “These kids deserve a break,” he says. “We need to do something for them, not to them, while it gives us a chance to clean up this situation.”

“I’m willing to do anything it takes,” Jennifer says tearfully.