Christine McDonough was at her wits’ end when she nominated her granddaughter Baylie for World’s Strictest Parents.
‘She slapped me across the face and told me she’d burn the house down while we slept in it if we ever tried to kick her out,’ says Christine, who inherited Baylie after her father died a decade earlier.
‘We did our best for her and all I wanted to be was the grandma who spoilt her, but I suppose I didn’t discipline her as much as I should have.’The Adelaide grandparents gave their nightmare grandchild a new bedroom, car and dog, but in return they got fake tears, hissy fits and daily abuse.
‘Then something “clicked” for Baylie during her time with the Bethe family in South Africa,’ reveals Christine. ‘She came home and I saw the tiniest change, that just grew and grew. Now she’s like a different person, like someone I don’t even know. She’s absolutely gorgeous and doesn’t use my make-up and take all my possessions.
‘She’s my whole life and I’d do anything for her. I’m so happy that I never gave up on her.’Adds Baylie: ‘I’m really happy with my life now and that’s because I’ve got a great job as a temp and a boyfriend who I’ve been with for six months. I want to have a family while I’m young and this is why I got myself together.’
‘This trip away opened up her eyes to how other people live and it showed her that life at home isn’t that bad,’ says a relieved Christine, who admits she no longer feels like shrinking and dying when she’s around her granddaughter.
After carving his way through a bevy of beauties at the rate of nearly one per week, self-confessed ladies’ man Kyle is now officially off the market.
‘I’m loving the sort of guy I am now,’ he admits. ‘I don’t drink or go out fighting any more and I’ve had one girlfriend for seven months.’
The 17-year-old from the Sunshine Coast no longer argues with his grandparents, who he’s lived with since the age of three, after his parents got mixed up with drugs.
‘I finished school and now I’m training to be a professional barista,’ he says.
‘World’s Strictest Parents was just the jolt Memphis needed,’ says mum Michelle of her once heavy drinking, party queen daughter.
‘After the show went to air she didn’t want the public thinking that she was as bad as she came across, so she went about changing. It wasn’t immediate, but Memphis is a much better person now.’
The Hervey Bay teen was once suspended from school for throwing a chair at another student, but has now given up the drugs and is working in a restaurant.
‘She didn’t enjoy life with what she calls “the very religious family”. Memphis now realises how good it is at home,’ Michelle grins.
When Zaine got back from his stint with the Chua family in Singapore, he was living like a rock star and feeding off his bad-boy reputation, according to his mum Rachel. Then the 17-year-old school dropout from Melbourne completely changed. ‘Being in front of the camera made Zaine want to chase his dream of being an actor,’ smiles Rachel, who says her son has a role in the upcoming movie, Fight for Glory.
‘He talks to me now, helps around the house and doesn’t swear at me any more – I just can’t believe his turnaround.’
Self-centred bad boy Harry really enjoyed his Irish getaway with the Coleman family and when he returned to Perth it showed.
‘He was more tolerant and wanted to be a better big brother,’ says mum Julie. ‘But that only lasted a few weeks before he fell back into his old ways.
‘He hasn’t stolen since Ireland and I suppose he’s matured a bit and we’re a little closer, but Harry will always march to the beat of his own drum.
‘It’s tough. He still swears at me daily and recently he was caught by the police for driving without a licence, so his behaviour is up and down.
‘We just accept that every day there’s going to be an issue.’To his credit, Harry is back at school repeating Year 11 and tries hard to attend school every day, with a dream to pursue a career in television.
‘I want to complete school and go to NIDA,’ says Harry, with confidence. ‘That’s why I did this television show, because I wanted to learn more about how TV is produced.
‘I’m not a dream child but I think I’ve changed quite a bit for the better. I’ve realised my family is good.’
Jess has been in court frequently since her episode went to air, but it hasn’t been for substance abuse or causing a public disturbance – it’s because she now works there!
‘There was an immediate change in Jess when she got back from the US,’ admits mum Jenny, who says her daughter turned into a pot-smoking alien when she became a teenager. ‘She never swears at me now, she let’s me know where she’s going and rings me from work just to say hi.’
Jess thought her foul-mouthed behaviour was normal until she spent a week with the Gibson family. The changed teen from Sydney now wants to study criminal law and psychology.
‘We sat down recently and watched her episode and she just said: “Oh my God,”’
says a grateful Jenny. ‘Jess finally realises that we really care for her.’
There was an immediate and major change in Emily after she came home from her stint with the Coleman family in Ireland.
‘Emily had taken the piercings out of her lips, tongue and chin – and the spacers out of her ears,’ says mum Lee-Anne with pride. ‘She’s got giant holes in her ear lobes now, but it’s nothing that cosmetic surgery can’t fix.’
‘The Coleman kids worked so hard and they made me remember what I wanted to do with my life,’ adds Emily, who rarely showed up at school, stole from her mum and kicked in a bedroom door in her darker days.
The 18-year-old from Sydney is now back at school finishing Year 12 and plans to join the navy as a cryptologist next year.
‘I prayed for this and am so grateful to have my daughter back,’ says Lee-Anne. ‘The only negative this year is that Emily has developed cysts on her brain and we’re anxious about her operation.’
Of all eight wayward teenagers, Ballina’s Jono has struggled the most to find maturity. The 17-year-old has been stubbornly determined to live up to his outlaw reputation.
‘He loves the bad-boy image around his friends and I think it’s because he was bullied when he was younger and loves the attention,’ says mum Lyndal.
Jono’s world was rocked after being told that his South African father on the show, Thembele, had been murdered in a politically motivated shooting.
‘He was devastated and angry,’ says Lyndal. ‘On the positive side, he finished Year 10 and got a job on a prawn trawler, but he’s been in big trouble with the law and is completing community service.’
The struggling teen has been told by police that jail is his next destination if he doesn’t control his criminal lifestyle.
‘We’re devastated our beautiful child has engaged in such anti-social behaviour,’ says Lyndal.By: Natalee Fuhrmann
Photos: Frances Andrijich and Stephen Hardacre