Supernanny's sixth season kicked off this fall on ABC and -- thanks to Jo Frost and her super parenting know-how -- it's still the must-see show for moms and dads everywhere. But who is the real Supernanny? She's a down-to-earth woman who has learned from hard lessons in life, including the early death of her own mother. Frost talked to WebMD Magazine about these issues -- and how they shaped her thoughts on parenting, child development, family values, and health -- plus why she's never met a kid challenge she can't handle.
Everyone knows you as a TV star, thanks to your hit reality show, Supernanny. Less well known is the fact that your mother passed away from breast cancer when you were in your early 20s and she was only 43. How has that changed your outlook on life and health?
My mom was 39 when she was diagnosed, and I'm going to be her age this year. Because my mom died so young I go every year and have mammograms and ultrasounds. I want young women to become more aware of how they can do self-exams, recognizing that it's not an "old" thing to do. This is not something just your grandma and your mother do. Young women in their mid-20s should get into the habit of having self-exams, feeling for those bumps and knowing what's always there and not. We need to make it fresh and young and hip. My mother found her own breast cancer through a self-exam, and was in remission for four years before it became very aggressive. It's something I feel very passionate about, because losing her was the most devastating thing that's ever happened in my life.
We've all seen you work miracles for families time and again on TV. As you kick off your new season, what is your guiding philosophy of child rearing and has it changed in any way?
It's about bridging the gap between parents and children, so that we have more of an understanding of their development as they grow. Parenting has changed over the years. For a time it was about good, strong values and parents who weren't complacent to discipline when necessary. But the ability to articulate and express and communicate with children wasn't forthcoming. Then there was an overabundance of emotion and expressing yourself and the values were slipping. I find myself as that metronome in the middle, balancing left and right. I want to make parents more conscious of the parents that they want to be, what choices they're making, and how they want to raise their children.