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‘My Dysfunctional Family’ finds a ‘Thin Line Between Love and Hate’ on CMT

The Ingraham Family on My Dysfunctional Family
The Ingraham Family on My Dysfunctional Family
Photo courtesy of CMT used with permission

On last night’s episode of “My Dysfunctional Family,” fixer of families, Dave Vitalli believes that every dysfunctional family deserves another chance to be a family. The disclaimer at the intro states, “Dave Vitalli specializes in conflict resolution. His views and advice are his own. If you have any of the issues featured in this program, you should seek the assistance of a licensed therapist or counselor.”

Dave meets the Ingraham family, a Georgia family on the verge of collapse, with Frances, a single mother and her 15-year-old daughter, Victoria at war, with the mother’s fiance caught in the crossfire. Victoria longs for the day she is 18 and can leave. Chad, the fiance is the actual person who contacted Dave, so they met in a restaurant to hear his story. He told Dave that Frances has had several men in and out of her life, and Victoria resents her mother for everything. Chad wants to be a father figure to Victoria, but is met with resistance from Frances, and may just decide to end the relationship, which will break his heart.

So Dave headed out to speak with Frances and Victoria. Because they were fighting, nobody answered the door, so Dave walked in and introduced himself. It was obvious that Victoria was in a lot of pain. Dave took Frances aside to get to the bottom of why her daughter was so angry. It seems that when she was six, she had anger issues and wanted to kill her sister. Frances institutionalized her to try to help her. It was only for a week, but she stated that they gave her shots and made her sleep, and she has resented her ever since. Frances lost custody of her older child.

Frances lost her father when she was three and has been seeking a father figure for her children since her husband left. She has made lots of mistakes; she has done drugs and is seeing a psychologist to help her, but she just cannot get through to her daughter.

Dave spoke to Victoria alone to try to see her side of this. She told him that she loved her mother a lot, but cannot help the way she reacts to her. She does want a good relationship with her mother, but they never do anything together.

Dave took Victoria to meet Megan, a music enthusiast. Victoria wants to be a singer, and she sat with Megan before they did any singing. She told Megan that her mother told her that she was a terrible daughter, and she wished she never had her. She also felt that her mom was not there for her. As Megan played a tune on the piano, she and Victoria composed a song titled, “I’m Sorry.”

Dave took Frances to the same courtroom where she lost custody of her first daughter. He made her admit she did not know how to be a mother, and feared being alone. He told her that women do this every day solely, and so could she. Her fear of being alone is the reason she has jumped from man to man. He also made her admit that it was not to find a father for her daughters, but to not be alone. He asked her to play the role of mom, and he would show her how.

Dave took them both to a site where there were bricks and some garbage cans. Each had to bring a brick for the can. Victoria had to bring a brick for each thing she could not forgive her mother for. Frances had to bring one for each regret she had in the past. When each saw what they were carrying around, it was enlightening. Victoria did forgive her mother, and Frances was grateful. Dave knew this was just a first step.

He drove them to a campsite where they would have no phones or electronics, and had all the supplies necessary to be mother and daughter. Later, as they sat around the campfire, Dave returned with Chad, and left them alone. She got a call from Frances, who told him that she and Chad got into a fight. Dave came in to see if he could help, and quelled the fire.

He then took the three of them to see a counselor named Julie as “First Things First.” The will continue to attend sessions, and before he left, Dave presented Victoria with her song, framed. She read it to her mother, who loved the song, then Dave presented Victoria with a scholarship to attend Music Therapy. Since he left, Frances and Chad have attended classes for engaged couples at “First Things First” thanks to this episode of “My Dysfunctional Family.” Frances and Chad now approach parenting and discipline as a team, however, Victoria’s outbursts and negative attitude continue to be a challenge.

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