October 10, 2008 09:09 PM by Lisa Stauber
Supernanny Jo Frost faces a new challenge tonight, deaf parents with four daughters who hear normally. The three youngest girls take advantage of Mom and Dad, and older sister Melissa ends up acting like a second mom. “When I’m home, I don’t get treated with respect,” Melissa says, thinking her parents only want her around to babysit and clean up.
Dorothy and Kip Baulisch have four children, age 5 -18. The little girls fight constantly. “Jennifer is very, very explosive. She’s always angry.” Melissa says. The girls are disrespectful and mean to each other. “They think because they’re deaf they can be wild,” Dorothy says. Bedtime is a fiasco. Also, the younger girls don’t know sign language very well, because mom Dorothy can talk and read lips. Kip is Melissa’s stepdad, and she feels separated from him. “I’m kind of like the hearing mother,” Melissa says. “I just want to be the sister,” she says.
“We need help,” Dorothy says. She feels like giving up altogether. Jo arrives to a warm welcome and an interpreter to help with sign language. Immediately Jo sees how the girls completely ignore their mother. They don’t listen, and don’t watch her signs. The girls whisper behind their hands so that Mom can’t read their lips.
Kip and Dorothy rely on Melissa to be their interpreter whenever she’s around. Jo tries to understand how Melissa handles things. “I get overwhelmed sometimes,” she says. Melissa works two jobs and she’s still in school, and she just wants her mom to understand her and hug her.
Kip doesn’t think he has any sort of relationship with Melissa. “I do love her,” he says, but doesn’t think she loves him back. He’s been her dad for 9 years, but doesn’t feel like they have a connection.
It’s dinner time, and 5 year old Kristin decides she’s not going to eat green beans. She throws a screaming fit, and finally Dorothy puts her in a timeout. Melissa walks in, and invites Kristin to sit and eat with her. Mom doesn’t do anything about Melissa taking over the parenting.
Bedtime is late, at 9 pm and the girls just run up and down the hallway. No one will stay in bed and they fight, too. Two hours later, and the Baulisch’s are still trying to get their girls to settle down. She begs Jo for help as she reaches the breaking point.
Kip and Dorothy try to hide behind their disability, but Jo won’t hear it. “Just because you’re deaf doesn’t make you any less of a parent!” Jo tells them. “Communication has broke down,” Jo says. She wonders how they can do anything together when the girls won’t learn sign language. “It’s mandatory,” Jo says. “It’s not an option.”
Dorothy argues that Melissa is more strict, but Jo tells them she can’t parent for them. “Let’s talk about Melissa,” she says. “She wants to reach out to the pair of you.” Kip is afraid because she is always angry. “She’s been helping more than enough,” Jo says. “She is meant to be one of your kids.”
Jo also wants them to set up a bedtime routine, and promises to help them change.
Supernanny shows up the next door with a new set of rules to post on the wall, and explains them clearly. Jo insists that the girls learn ASL every day. “If the parents make it fun, the kids will be motivated to learn,” Jo says. Kip is looking forward to the girls learning.
Next, Jo wants to heal the rift between Melissa and her parents. She brings them together to have a conversation. “You do everything for his kids and you don’t help me with anything,” Melissa says. Dorothy says she tries. Melissa is too angry to even talk and runs out of the house. Supernanny convinces Melissa to come back and talk to just her mom, without Kip around. Melissa lets out her frustration.
Supernanny tells Dorothy what she needs to do in order to mother Melissa. “I am with you for life,” Dorothy tells Melissa, and they hug. Melissa goes to try to talk to Kip, but he’s still upset from everything that has happened. “I love you,” she tells him, and they hug. It’s a nice first step.
Jo sets up cameras in the girls room to help Mom and Dad navigate bedtime. She goes over the standard bedtime procedure, and gets to practice right away because the girls are all out of bed already. “The key to the bedtime technique is persistence,” Jo says, but they are wearing Mom out. The girls go to sleep soon enough, and Kip even reads them a story. The TV monitors allow Dorothy and Kip to watch them and nip any naughtiness in the bud.
It’s time for the Baulisch family to try Supernanny’s techniques on their own, and she leaves for three days. The DVD review goes well. The kids are learning sign language and not fighting all the time. Bedtime is happier and Kip has time to read them a story every night, now. “Now we can watch TV in peace,” Dorothy says. “I feel at peace,” Kip says. “I’m so happy.”
Dorothy and Kip spring a surprise on Melissa, though, and she’s not happy. They want to go on a cruise. The last time they went on a cruise, they left Melissa in charge of everything for a week. “The last time she went on a cruise, she just up and left us,” she says. “I was a wreck. It was bad.” Dorothy says her father and Kip’s sister were at the house, but Melissa felt it was too much.
Supernanny tries one more time to patch things up between Melissa and her parents. She lets Melissa tell Kip and Dorothy her real feelings, and they finally seem to understand each other. Dorothy promises not to leave Melissa in charge of everything anymore, and Melissa feels better now that she’s gotten everything off her chest.
Photos courtesy ABC.