For parents struggling with difficult teenagers, Dave Vitalli has answers. But the parents will be put under the microscope, as well.
Interview with Dave Vitalli from My Dysfunction Family
In his CMT series My Dysfunctional Family, Vitalli will spend one hour each week helping families handle complex crises, equipped with lie detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, and even GPS tracking. Vitalli began working with families and children back in 1996, conducting interventions, eventually landing on The Maury Show with a homemade “infidelity kit” his company created that can also detect if teens are sexually active. Now, he runs Vortek International, a security investigations company.
Growing up, Vitalli had the “best mother on the face of the earth,” but the same can’t be said for his abusive father or his alcoholic, abusive stepbrother, both who made his childhood more than difficult. Despite his brutal childhood, these experiences helped to propel him forward. They motivate him to help other families work through tough situations on his show.
“I don’t let my past hinder my future,” says Vitalli. “I deal with these families and parents who try to give me excuses. Yes I understand the excuses, but they can’t be a crutch.”
The families that Vitalli works with often have trouble facing their issues, and his program forces parents to confront their realities, and move past their mistakes.
“People don’t want to face their own demons,” says Vitalli. “Your son is like this because of what you gave him.”
He spends one week with families, and then CMT arranges for follow-ups with psychologists and psychiatrists.
Despite his lack of male role models, Vitalli stepped up to be a parental figure. At just 23, he took in 16-year-old Jason and raised him. Jason is now 31 with an 11-month-old son of his own, Ben. Vitalli’s best advice to parents is to offer security, stability, and guidance, and resist the pressure to be “cool.”
“Always remember to be a parent first, and not a friend,” advises Vitalli. “Kids need structure.”