6 Questions With 'America’s Supernanny' Deborah Tillman
1 year ago
Giving a new spin to child rearing in America
Chances are you’ve seen at least one episode of ABC’s popular show, Supernanny, where British nanny Jo Frost entered the homes of exasperated parents and gave them no-nonsense advice on how to get their out-of-control kids, well, back in control.
Now Deborah Tillman, founder and owner of the successful Virginia-based Happy Home childcare centers, steps into the title role on the American version, which premiered this past week on Lifetime. In the premiere episode, “Miss Deborah,” as she calls herself on the show, pulls no punches about the improvements she thinks parents can make and she challenges them to get there—quickly.
Loop 21 sat down with the new Supernanny to hear her approach to making families whole again and to get her opinion on everything from spanking to tantrums in public.
Loop 21: For readers who might not have watched the previous version of the show religiously, can you explain how the show works?
Deborah Tillman: The series showcases America parents who need guidance in how to raise their children. The main difference between Lifetime’s version and ABC’s is that we tackle several different types of households: we’ve got same-sex parents, parents of multiples, parents with special needs children, which I love. I come in to create a positive atmosphere. For example, instead of saying, “No hitting,” try saying “Use your gentle hands.”
Loop 21: What made you interested in becoming “Supernanny”? Were there any reservations? I know you said you didn’t watch many episodes of the other version. So there’s no pressure?
Tillman: Not at all. About two years ago, I would have not been able to do it because my son had just graduated high school and I wanted to devote my time to getting him through his first year. But in July of this year, he gave me a thumbs-up. He said, “Mom, you devoted your whole life to me. Now I want you to do what you want to do.” I couldn’t even believe he would say something like that. So when I got the call at the end of August I was ready. I’ve been working with children and families for 20 years. I’ve been doing a lot of home visits and parenting workshops so this is an extension of what I’ve already been doing. I feel truly blessed to help families come together and stay together by using positive parenting techniques.
Loop 21: When you go into “nontraditional” households, do you change any of your techniques? Or, by using the same techniques, is it another way to show the universal benefits of positive parenting?