February 13, 2008 09:36 PM by Lisa Stauber
Supernanny has a big challenge tonight with the Daniels family. There are five girls, one boy, and no parents. Or at least, nobody who is parenting. Lisa and Steve Daniels let their kids run all over them.
Observation begins, and Supernanny hands out name tags. Josh, 13, is the oldest and only boy. He’s rather quiet and amuses himself by watching television and playing computer games. Halley, 12, is often blamed for troublemaking. Alexus, 8, loves to spit. “She’s like a wild animal,” mom Lisa says. Alisen, 7, is prone to fits. Irelyn, 4, and Bryn, age 2 round out the family. Can Supernanny handle this supersized family?
“Less than two percent of the American families are so large,” Supernanny informs us primly. Unfortunately, the mother, Lisa, is not up to the task. She pretty much leaves the kids to their own devices, then punishes Halley by assigning chores for any infractions. Alexus runs through the house spitting on her sister, but it’s Halley who ends up with laundry duty and a time out as a result. Mom’s given up all hope and takes out her frustration on the one child who will take it.
Dinner is chaos, with Lisa and Steve watching TV while the kids spit macaroni noodles at each other, unsupervised in the kitchen. The two littlest girls don’t even bother to eat, as they’ve filled up on chips while watching their favorite show earlier. “It’s like they’re just minding the kids. You’ve got to earn the title of being parent.” Jo, as usual, spots the real problem immediately.
The Family Meeting is harsh, and Lisa shuts down. Jo calls her on her unfair treatment of Halley, but Mom refuses to discuss it. It’s clear she’s checked out of the situation, and she doesn’t even show much affection to any of the kids. Honestly, Lisa doesn’t seem to have a clue about what to do with her children, so she does nothing at all.
“When did you decide you wouldn’t parent?” Jo asks the Daniels. Mom brushes off the question, but Dad takes it to heart. Jo is disappointed that the family doesn’t do anything together, and Mom can’t even be bothered to make her kids come in from the pool. “It doesn’t work out,” Lisa complains about family activities, and that’s her excuse for everything. Jo zeros in on Lisa, telling her “The fact is you’re lazy and won’t do anything about it.”
The first item on Supernanny’s fix-it list is rules. The family lacks any clear ground rules, and it shows. Mom and Dad come together to explain the new system to the kids, and toddler Bryn has a meltdown. It’s clear she’s never been told what to do.
“I realized that this is the first time someone’s put that boundary down for her,” Steve says, but while Bryn throws a tantrum, Mom throws in the towel. “I need a break!” she cries as she hurries from the room. Supernanny’s right on her heels for a stern talking-to.
Lisa does not approve of Supernanny’s methods. “She’s never like this,” she excuses Bryn. “You made her this way!” Jo snaps back. She gets real with Mom and Dad, having a very frank and profanity laden talk.
Supernanny is especially worried about Halley and Lisa’s relationship. Halley is definitely treated differently from the other children, and there is a rift between them. Jo prompts Lisa and walks her through trying to have a talk with Halley, but clearly Mom’s heart is not in it. She awkwardly hugs her daughter, though. “I don’t remember the last time my mama hugged me,” Halley confesses. Mom and daughter go bowling to bond, but Lisa is still standoffish. Supernanny takes her leave, promising to be back in a few days.
Four days later, Dad is having great success with the Supernanny system. “Now we’ve got parents parenting!” says Jo excitedly, giving Steve a high-five. Lisa hasn’t been able to really successfully implement the system, and Jo feels it’s due to negativity. Every single sentence out of Lisa’s mouth seems to start with “No!” or “Don’t!”. Jo gives Mom a bowl of lemons to show her the sour taste her negative words leave.
Now the Daniels play a game. They have to work together to find keys to a locked cooler. Some keys are hidden at the bottom of the pool, under a mountain of balloons, and one is in a pan of spaghetti that Dad must find using only his mouth. It’s great fun, and even taciturn Josh enjoys himself. “We’ve never played like that before,” he says with a shy smile.
Lisa seems to finally warm up to Supernanny’s methods, and to her family. Things are finally going well. “I’m glad she stuck with me,” Lisa says of Jo. Was there any doubt? Supernanny never gives up!
Now the family is happy, hanging out having a picnic. “We’ve got discipline, we’ve got parenting,” Steve says. “My kids know there’s a new momma sheriff in town!” Lisa is finally smiling. “I feel like there’s hope.” Another family crisis solved!
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Photo credit ABC/Bob D’Amico