November 07, 2008 09:09 PM by Lisa Stauber
Wife Swap is playing with fire tonight, swapping moms who discipline their children in entirely different ways. Nothing fans the flames faster than being told you’re a bad parent, and the sparks are flying tonight! Jessica Neighbor and her husband Alan are very careful in the raising of their children, and control every single detail. Marley and Steve Brown leave everything up to the kids, including allowing them to color their hair and skip homework.
Jessica is a therapist, and applies her textbook techniques to her kids. She is totally involved in their kids lives, volunteering at the school, inspecting their desks, and having twice weekly teacher meetings. She’s encouraging 9 year old son Kaden to pick his college, but he just wants to play. “We expect first, because that’s what they’re capable of,” Jessica says. Other parents think they’re psycho, though. Jessica wants everything to be perfect, so she dresses her children and buckles them into booster seats. They are 11 and 9 year old children, but are controlled like robots.
Marley Brown lets her kids have fun. They jump on the couch and dance around. Steve Brown is a yo-yo professional. Zane, 12 and Maverick, 2 have free run in the house and the 2 year old loves to color on the walls. Zane’s dyed his hair red, and cleaning is a low priority. He has bad grades, but the Browns let him decide if he’s going to study or not. Steve is Zane’s stepfather, and the two don’t always see eye to eye. “Steve doesn’t really feel like a dad,” Zane says.
Meeting the New Family
Jessica’s house is full of breakables, and Marley’s is full of clutter. “My kids will never have a report card like this,” Jessica says, looking at Zane’s grades. Steve has to work at the store, so the babysitter drops them off. Meanwhile, Alan Neighbor is upset that Marley dared to wear her shoes in the house. When Steve arrives, he thinks Jessica is a little too tan. “She looks like a saddlebag with eyes,” he says.
Kaden and Kassidy give Marley the rundown on how their chores must be perfect or they won’t be allowed to participate in family night. Meanwhile, Steve’s having a party with his friends and everyone’s come over to meet the new mommy. Jessica won’t participate, say grace, joke, or have fun. “All she’s done is judge us, and she’s made no attempt to fulfill Marley’s role,” Steve says.
Marley doesn’t get Kassidy’s hair right, and Alan makes her do it over until it’s perfect. She thinks the booster seats are degrading. It’s time for a teacher meeting, and Kaden’s going to get a 4.0 on his report card. Kaden later has a talk with Marley, and tells her he’s pretty stressed out. He doesn’t really open up to his mom, and he liked their talk.
Jessica thinks Steve and Zane simply coexist and don’t have a connection. She then has to workall day away from the family, and Jessica decides to pick Zane up because walking home from school is simply too dangerous. She is baffled that the family blows things off to have fun and thinks it’s terrible that Steve’s socks have dog hair on them. Everything is too dangerous.
Jessica is going to bring organization and structure to the family, and stop the dancing days and chaos. She will make Steve into a successful parent. Steve has to meet with Zane’s teacher to bring up his grades and drive him to school, keeping him off the dangerous streets. The family’s going to come to Steve’s store for meals, so they can eat together.
Marley tells Kassidy and Kaden that they will erase the chore chart and get to play instead. Alan gets a weight vest, and every time he pressures the kids, Marley’s going to give him a weight. Oh, and all of the kid’s extracurricular activities are cancelled. The kids get to teach Alan a gymnastics routine. Marley allows the Neighbor kids to remove their car seats, and they go on a rampage, destroying, stomping, and throwing them. They’re free!
Jessica starts making everyone clean the house to perfection, but allows Maverick’s wall art to stay. Zane hates being driven to school. Steve thinks Jessica is fearful and overprotective. “I don’t understand how to make decisions based on fear,” he tells her. Jessica has some therapy for the Brown family, to try to bring them together. “We have found a common enemy, and it’s Jessica,” Zane says, as the Browns come together and start getting along. The teacher meeting is successful, and there are several suggestions that will help Zane get more organized. Zane and Steve bond, and Zane says he will take Steve’s last name of Brown.
Alan loses his temper. “You’re almost 30 years of age, and you’re stupid!” he tells Marley. Alan has to do the chores, including cleaning up the dog poop. He thinks Marley has a brain injury, because she just doesn’t understand that pressure is good for kids. Alan refuses to wear the weight vest unless the kids are around, because he feels it’s too demeaning. He starts to come around though, after he considers that the pressure on the kids is pressure he’s putting on himself and Jessica, too. A gymnastics class makes him realize that gymnastics is tiring and all the sports might be a little too much. “I don’t think it would be a bad idea for her (Jessica) to wear the vest,” Alan says, thinking it’s a great tool for realizing the amount of pressure and stress she puts on herself.
Alan admits that it was difficult at first, with the Marley being judgemental. “We had the same experience,” Steve says. Alan tells Jessica that Kassidy has confided that she is overwhelmed, and Jessica jumps in trying to talk Alan out of making excuses of the kids. The wives start fighting, Marley uses bad words, and Jessica walks off. Alan and Steve talk to each other without the women, and Jessica agrees to come back to the table. Jessica returns, and starts gushing over Alan, remarking how amazing he is.
Photos courtesy ABC.