Interview: Melissa Denton Talks About Her Visit From America's Supernanny
Last night on "America's Supernanny" Deborah Tillman travelled to New Hampshire to pay a visit to the Denton family. Between checked out dad Bruce, defeated mom Melissa, and their defiant 9-year-old Dillon and his 3 unruly sisters -- Deborah knew that getting this family off the divorce track and on to a healthier path was going to take a lot of work and tough love. Upon meeting Melissa, Deborah could tell that the exhausted mom had lost all hope with her children and even admitted that she never met a mother who was this defeated.
We were able to chat with Melissa Denton after her family's week with America's Supernanny, Deborah -- and we wanted to find out if and how the show changed her and her family’s life and what advice she has for parents who are watching the show and can relate to her story.
Lifetime Moms: Why did you feel like it was time to call in “America’s Supernanny”?
Melissa Denton: We felt it was time to call in America's Supernanny because Bruce and I couldn't see eye to eye on many issues including dealing with the kids, and we were having trouble communicating. These issues meant we were getting nowhere in our relationships with each other or the kids and none of the problems were being resolved. It made sense to have an outside person who didn't know us and who couldn't take sides come in and give our family the jumpstart we needed.
Bruce and I had talked about maybe getting help without being on the show, but the show won out for a couple reasons. First, when you get help on your own (like taking a parenting course or therapy) you then have to come home and it's up to you to apply what you learned. Being on the show meant we got someone to walk us through the steps, someone to be there when things that aren't learned about in a textbook or course come up, and the show makes you address the issues. Lastly, we agreed to seek help through the show because we knew that Deborah would be there in our face to keep us motivated and on track when things got tough.
LTM: How did your friends and family react when they heard America’s Supernanny was coming to lend a hand? What did the kids think?
MD:Our friends and family gave us a wide variety of responses to being on the show. We heard stuff like, "Why are you doing that?", "I would never do that!", "They’re going to make you look bad.", "Are you getting paid?", or "Are your kids really that bad?" Although, I will say most people were positive and told us we should do it. The kids had different reactions. Dillon being the oldest, was at first excited, however, he soon realized that when he misbehaved it was going to end up on TV and people he knows would see it. I believe that is why he held back a lot on the show, but he was happy we did it. The girls are a little young to understand the whole thing, but they were ecstatic about it and would try to bring Dillon around to the idea.
LTM: How would you describe the impact Deborah’s visit had on your family?
MD: Deborah's visit left a positive impact on our lives. We got a lot out of the show, and it gave me and Bruce back control of the house.
LTM: What were the top two or three lessons learned from the experience?
MD:So much happened in the week it's hard to pick the top lessons we learned. For me as the mom, one of the things I took away was getting back my motivation to take charge of the family. Before Deborah came I was in this place where I was tired of trying so hard all the time, not having the co-parent support me. I felt like I was getting nowhere and I essentially gave up. Being on the show, and hearing what Deborah had to say about me and Bruce and our parenting, hearing the language she used with the kids, and seeing how she dealt with the kids actually gave me a sense of empowerment to take my life back.
The lesson being that no matter what's going on in life, you have to be strong, because the kids are number one. The second biggest thing we took away was the importance of the parents’ relationship. This isn't to say we didn't know that, just being on the show let us see how badly it really was affecting everything. Overall, the kids had a blast doing the show. Exceptions, of course, being any time spent in the calm down corner and Dillon losing his inappropriate video games and his bedroom TV. The kids really did have fun.
LTM: How would you describe your parenting style pre-Deborah’s visit? What changes have you made since?
MD: Before Deborah's visit I would say my parenting style had gotten very lax. Since doing the show I would say I try to be stricter with the kids, and we stick to our house rules. The experience with Deborah got our family back to where we needed to be.
LTM: Is it hard to go back to everyday life after the cameras stop rolling and Deborah is no longer there to help mediate?
MD: As the time goes on it does get hard to keep up everything we learned. Initially, it's easy because you're still rolling off all the energy she left you with, but then some situation arises and you just have to try to stick with what you learned, or think, "What would Deborah do?" We have had a couple of "bad" days, but with consistency being a huge part of the solution, we just have to jump back in the saddle again. I don't think it's any harder than before she came because parenting is a tough job that’s 24/7, 365 days a year with no real breaks -- it's always there to deal with. It's just easier if you're clear about your expectations, the rules, and you stay consistent.
LTM: What advice do you have for other families watching who are experiencing similar issues in their homes?
MD: It was hard to put what our family is going through out there on TV, and one of the things that made it okay for me was to know that there are other families out there going through similar stuff. I hope that those families who see our show will decide to take charge of their lives and try to use the techniques that they see. You can do it. It's also important to know that it is okay to ask for help, it takes a strong person to admit they need help.
See new episodes of "America's Supernanny" Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime.
- Watch last night's episode for free online
- Check out a few new techniques that Deborah used in last night's episode
- Get to know Deborah Tillman
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