You’ll need an extra place setting at the dinner table on Wednesdays at 10:00pm ET/PT this year because America’s Supernanny Deborah Tillman is moving in! In the second season of Lifetime’s hit unscripted series, now titled America’s Supernanny: Family Lockdown, Deborah will live with families for one week.
Deborah opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about going into ‘lockdown’ with the Clarkston family. The Virginia-based wife, mother and author, who boasts more than 20 years experience in early childhood education opens up about working with this family-of-nine who was using corporal punishment with their seven children.
CBS: Tell us about working with the Clarkston family. We hear the parents were using corporal punishment on their seven kids. Tell us more about working with this family and how you helped them.
DT: “When I arrived at the Clarkson house, I met mom, Aleashia, dad, Patrick and their seven children: Deonte (16), Tyler (14), Diana (10), PJ (8), Destiny (6), Alayni (4) and Xavier (14 months).
Mom and Dad are both teachers. Aleashia is also working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership, and Pat coaches high school football. To say that their schedules are full is an understatement. According to these two oversubscribed parents, they only sleep 4 hours a night at best! Right away I knew there were some serious issues waiting for me.
It was immediately obvious that there was no structure or routine in the house. The children were on school break when I arrived, but that was no excuse for seven kids with various age range to be running loose without proper supervision or structure. Aleashia even went as far as telling me that baby Xavier is “the boss” – to the point that he doesn’t take naps, and goes to bed as late as midnight. For two educated parents, they were failing their children.
The children lacked respect for each other and their parents. I saw both physical and verbal abuse between the kids, including baby Xavier who had a significant biting (and hitting) problem that everyone seemed to laugh off. I also saw zero time management skills in the parents – to the point of hours being lost without anyone seeming to care.
Mom and dad are also big proponents of corporal punishment – in their words, “whippings.” They also used a bizarre and degrading practice of punishing the kids by making them get on their knees and face a wall until told to get up in addition to a countdown process which I saw no value or purpose in it whatsoever. To make matters worse, the children are told by their parents that they are whipped “because they love them” and they are Christians.
The “spare the rod spoil the child” quote that has been passed down from generation to generation has been misused as coming from a verse in Proverbs. In fact, it does not come from the bible it was taken from a poem by Samuel Butler entitled “Hudibras.” In the poem Butler stated, “Love is a boy, by poets styled, then spare the rod spoil the child.” In the scripture taken from the 13th chapter of Proverbs Solomon says, “He who spareth the rod hateth his son.” Proverbs 13:24, “The rod was used to steer and guide the sheep not abuse them.”
The bible also says, in Psalm 6:1, “O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.”
This is very important. It means to never discipline a child while in an angry state. It leads to abuse. Christianity is about love and training your child up in the way they should go – not beating children into submission by fear.
I also saw a huge rift between the oldest boys, Deonte and Tyler. It also seemed to me that Deonte lived for nothing more than to text and communicate with anyone other than his family members.
The lockdown was met with the usual complaints of losing video games – especially from PJ – and Tyler went as far as to try to hide some devices but those were eventually found. There was also a brief mutiny and attempted hunger strike by several of the kids but as I expected, it did not last long.
After that dissolved, I put in place house rules to get the children focused on treating each other like brothers and sisters and giving mom and dad discipline techniques that were corrective, not debasing or degrading.
Next, I focused on Deonte and Tyler’s relationship by using two techniques that helped them to understand how important their relationship as brothers should be. Throughout the entire process of working with the boys, I noticed them letting down their guard, getting closer and closer together and realizing that they were more alike than different.
My next big project was Xavier – not only his biting habit but also his daily schedule. I gave mom and dad some techniques to curtail the biting, redirect him when needed and most important get him on a sleep schedule, both nap and bedtime, that will promote his development. It was hard for mom at first, but I saw dad step up, assume control, and he did quite well.
This family was also a great candidate for my Start Smart technique, which helped these time-challenged parents to get some control of the hours in their day. I divided the group by ages and taught the parents some creative activities and how to keep the children engaged and enjoying each other all day long.
In the end, I believe that this family has hope now. They might not have all problems fully resolved, and mom and dad will need to work on being consistent and following through with “proper” discipline in order to make things change long term. However, I see more respect, more structure, better discipline and the chance for a few more hours of sleep for both of these parents.”