English TV personality and so-called "Supernanny" Jo Frost has never felt it to be an issue that she has no kids of her own and possesses no extensive formal childcare qualifications, and yet she is considered an expert in managing children.
Even now, in a telephone interview with Life!, she bristles when the topic is brought up.
"I'm somebody who has over 25 years of experience in helping families through their issues, and someone who has reached out to help families worldwide. And for me, it's to serve and help families and to facilitate their needs and see that they're able to cope," says Frost, who stumbled into full-time nannying at the age of 20.
The 42-year-old has since become known for her string of TV series including the long-running Supernanny (2004 - 2011), where she is seen going into the homes of quarrelling families and giving them her no-nonsense take on how the parents can deal with their childcare nightmares.
Other than Supernanny, she is also at the centre of two TV shows that are variations of the original: Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance (2010 - 2012) and Family S.O.S With Jo Frost (2013).
Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance Season 2 premieres here on Lifetime Channel (StarHub TV Channel 514) on Nov 20.
Currently based in Orange County, California, where she lives with her American production coordinator boyfriend, Frost admits that she would like to have kids of her own some day.
"I love children and my partner loves children, but presently we're enjoying our relationship. I feel very supported with my partner in the work that I do, and he gets it and understands my passion in being able to help families around the world."
Besides, she feels like she is parent to many children already.
"Somebody once said to me, 'Jo, you're far too busy helping the rest of the world to have your own children. You may not have your children biologically, but you have millions spiritually.' Those were very kind and loving words."
1 You said you would love to have children. If you cannot have them biologically, would you consider adoption?
Yes. There are so many children out there who need loving homes. So I would absolutely consider adoption. I definitely don't feel that I have to give birth to a child in order to be his mother and to love him.
2 In promotional materials for your new show Family S.O.S, it is stated that you often have "head-on" situations with the fathers. Could you elaborate?
I often come across fathers who become very stubborn and adamant in what they believe is the right way moving forward. The fathers are very forthright. They try to be a little intimidating, which sometimes comes from a place of wanting control because they feel fearful of what lies tomorrow.
So for me, you have to know how to mediate and communicate to diffuse some hostile situations, to let them know that I'm trying to work with them to identify what they have tried and what hasn't worked for them, so that we can move on.
3 Are there any kids who are beyond help?
No, I don't think so. It's my job to help these families through their issues, whatever they may be. As you will see in Extreme Parental Guidance, we have some pretty 21st-century issues - from a little girl who just won't eat anything to computer addiction. What's wonderful about this season is that you're able to identify with other parents and recognise that these are modern issues and that these are concerns faced by many other parents and other younger generations.
4 How were you disciplined when you were growing up?
Actually, I was a very good young child. I listened and I understood very smartly that there were guidelines and boundaries. I think as I got older, I was more testy. As a teenager, I would go home late when I was told I couldn't, and I'd be grounded. But I learnt very quickly that it was more painful to lose out on going to a friend's party, that pushing the boat was going to end up with serious consequences. I was the girl who wanted to be there. So I think I was a good kid.
5 Do you advocate the use of the cane?
No, I don't agree with the cane. I think it's incredibly important to have boundaries, and it's important to have very clear expectations, but I don't believe that the way to foster respect is to use an iron hand. I have seen that trying to use force damages relationships, so I'm not in agreement with this form of discipline.
6 When you see kids misbehaving on the street, do you have the urge to tell their parents to do something about it?
No. I think what's really important is the work that I do on a global level, which is to be able to teach parents the importance of raising their children in a confident fashion through my TV show and to allow them to think for themsleves. But if I see a parent outside who is struggling, I will give them a friendly smile and I'll give them a wink.
Sometimes, parents will come up to me and say, 'What do I do?' So that gives me permission to say something. But I don't want to be someone who is going to interfere.
7 Do families often recognise you on the street?
Yes, and they come to me with a lot of love. Sometimes they throw their arms around me and give me a big hug and a big kiss. Some families are very emotional when they talk to you and tell you their stories, that they watch your show and thank you for the work that you do and the difference it made in their own lives.
8 How would you like to be remembered?
That I'm a great friend and a supportive, funny daughter and big sister, a loving auntie. For me, it's very important I have this connection with my family.
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