February 20, 2008 08:48 PM by Lisa Stauber
It seems celebrities find their way onto every reality show, and now they are popping up on Supernanny. This week, Jo Frost visits Wendy Wilson, of Wilson Phillips fame, her husband Dan Knutson, and the couple’s four children.
Wendy, the daughter of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, did not have a lot of structure growing up. “We pretty much did whatever we wanted,” she says. Now she’s singing a different tune as a stay-at-home mom to Leo, age 4, Beau, age 3, and two newborn twins – and she has no idea what to do. Dan was raised in a strict family, and felt alienated from his authoritarian father. He’s not sure how to draw the line with his kids, and chaos reigns.
Observation begins, and there’s an issue with Beau. He was potty trained until the twins showed up, and now he’s regressed. He refuses to use the toilet, and even goes in the bushes out back. “Look at the cheeky monkey,” Jo says. “He’s springing a leak in the backyard.”
Wendy is going on tour with sister Carnie Wilson soon, and needs to get things at home under control before she can leave. She’s her own worst enemy, though, creating a Good Cop/Bad Cop parenting method with Dan. “I’m the pushover,” she admits.
Jo identifies another problem. “There is no set time for anything,” she observes. Bedtime is a fiasco. “First, Mom and Dad had to hunt high and low for the pacifier,” Jo says. “Something I think a three year old shouldn’t have anyway.” In addition, Dan and Wendy aren’t getting any rest as their boys climb into bed with them throughout the night.
Observation is productive, and Supernanny identifies three key problems: no routine, little discipline, and no sleep.
The Parent’s Meeting is quick, and not as brutal as usual. The family is clearly loving, but simply needs help getting on the same parenting page. “We need to find a middle ground,” Jo tells Wendy and Dan.
Teaching begins and first up is a schedule. The routine is written and posted over the fireplace just in time for a visit from Carnie, and her daughter Lola. Dan is sent outside with the five small children while the sisters rehearse. Dan actively engages the children, and there are no crises. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought,” Dan says.
The next step is getting Beau to give up his paci. Jo weaves a fun tale about Penelope, the Paci Fairy, and encourages Beau to mail her his pacifiers. Beau hesitates for a moment, then puts them into an envelope and seals it. The next day, Wendy reveals that he went to bed without it and slept soundly. Supernanny makes sure the Paci Fairy leaves a fun surprise for Beau, too, and he is charmed by his package and the accompanying fairy feathers and glitter.
Now Supernanny is ready to dig into more difficult problems. She spends some time alone with Wendy and Dan, discussing the limitations they feel as parents. Dan immediately identifies his control issue. “I want to have control, but in such a way that I don’t end up being the bad guy,” he says.
Wendy has the opposite problem. “There were hardly any boundaries in my family. I don’t want to mess this up.” She’s thoughtful for a moment. “I want the children to accept me.” Wendy continues opening up. “Growing up was fun, but it was also lonely at times.”
Supernanny points out how Wendy’s loneliness may be contributing to the bedtime battles, then coaches her on the bedtime technique. Jo stays through the night, sleeping on the couch, in order to help out. “It’s a Nanny stakeout!” she says. Later she puts her experience to work helping with the midnight feeding of the twins.
The night was difficult, but successful. “A major victory for the family,” Jo says. She takes her leave while Mom and Dad try to put her techniques to work.
Four days later, the parent evaluation goes well, again. The naughty chair technique is working, the kids are sleeping in their own beds, and nobody has forgotten to feed the baby. The family even takes a trip to a local restaurant, and Dan is able to be stern without being mean. There’s just one more obstacle to overcome: toileting.
Jo sits down with Beau, Dan, and Wendy and begins to explain her potty training technique. She’s barely even begun to teach when Beau takes matters into his own hands. He jumps up and makes a beeline for the toilet. He’s decided to be a big boy now!
The family update heaps glowing praise on Jo. “I’m definitely noticing a change in my family,” Dan says. They’re hitting all the right notes and Supernanny has proven she can help any family, no matter how desperate or famous.
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Photo credit ABC/Craig Sjodin