Dino and Debbie Pavoni pride themselves on running a strict household. Viewers of CMT-TV will get to judge for themselves Nov. 5, 2010, when the Pavonis appear on "World's Strictest Parents." The couple are pictured here with their children Darren (from left), Dana and Derrick.
Updated: March 17, 2013 12:06PM
Dino and Debbie Pavoni admit they’re big on discipline. “We like to establish authority,” Dino said.
They’re also big on structure.
“We don’t like chaos,” Debbie added.
But does that make them the “World’s Strictest Parents”?
Well, there is the thin 12-inch board they use to hammer home their point.
“We’re also big on consequences,” Dino said.
The Crestwood couple share their parenting technique with the world at 9 tonight when CMT-TV features them in the second season of “World’s Strictest Parents.”
“They wanted us because we are a big family, we’ve had a tragedy and we have a strict discipline style,” Dino said.
If one of his kids strays from the path, Dino said, it’s not unusual for all of them to get in trouble.
Consistency, Dino said, is an important part of parenting.
Debbie added, “So many parents have problems because they want to be their kids’ best friend.”
Admittedly, the Pavonis have had their share of troubles, too, despite their stern approach to child rearing.
Eight years ago, their son, Dominick, second of seven children, died from a drug overdose.
“It’s horrible to lose a child,” Dino said.
“It’s only through the grace of God that we’re able to make it through every day,” Debbie added.
That experience has brought them closer to God, Dino said.
Since Dominick’s death, the couple have made it their mission to help other teens whenever possible.
So when a producer for the CMT reality show cold-called him one day last summer, Dino’s interest was piqued.
“Kids are crying out for structure, for consistency, for attention,” he said.
After several more interviews, including one with a show-sponsored psychiatrist, the Pavonis were cleared for reality TV.
Dan Peirson, an executive producer for “World’s Strictest Parents,” said: “There is much more to this show than discipline. We look for family togetherness and lots of heart. We want to film families that have the ability to reach out to troubled teens.
“Despite all they’ve been through, the Pavonis have tremendous drive and energy.”
Dino and Debbie, he added, truly bonded with Ashley and James, the rebellious teens who came to live with them in August.
Someone else’s parents
Now in its second season, “World’s Strictest Parents” follows the reformation of two unruly teens as they are sent to live in a stricter environment for five days.
Defiant Ashley came from Florida, angry James from California.
During the teens’ brief stay, the Pavonis established ground rules, clarified consequences for breaking those rules and introduced the concept of hard work.
“And they learned to accept God,” Dino said.
The episode was filmed at the Pavonis’ home, as well as at Simply Slices, the Crestwood restaurant Dino owns.
Debbie, who runs a catering business, also brought the teen guests along on her daily delivery of meals to Mother of Sorrows nunnery, in Blue Island, where she had them help with landscaping work on the six-acre property.
In all, 100 hours of film were collected. The cameras were rolling constantly, capturing Ashley’s meltdown at the nunnery and James’ tirade at the restaurant.
Though Dino said he was not allowed to touch his guests, he could discipline them by making them hold up weights for an extended period of time.
“They learned if you don’t want the consequences, do what you’re told,” he said.
It’s a learning process, for both children and parents, Debbie said.
“We used to be more trusting. Now we don’t let anything get past us, not anymore,” she said.
Even though they homeschooled their children, three of whom still live at home, and tried to keep close tabs on their social networks, Dominick was able to fall in with the wrong crowd.
“It’s not enough to know who your kids’ friends are, you have to know what those friends are doing,” Dino said.
Dominick was able to slip through the cracks and by the time they realized it, he was too far gone to be saved.
“I have to believe now that this was God’s plan,” Dino said.
He also believes that Dominick’s troubles have lead him to reach out to other kids in need.
In addition to administering discipline, Dino and Debbie tried to find common ground with Ashley and James.
Ashley liked to cook, so Debbie spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen.
Dino helped James channel his anger through martial arts.
Dino said, “I kept reminding them to ask themselves, ‘What if everyone in the world did what I’m doing right now- Would the world be a better place- ‘”
By the time their parents came to pick them up, both teens had come around, Dino said.
“They’re both very nice kids,” he said. “They both had grown up with inconsistent discipline. As a result, they both were very rebellious.”
No amount of talking was going to change their behavior, he said.
“Sometimes,” he said, “you just have to provide kids with enough discomfort to want to change.”
MEET THE PARENTS
“World’s Strictest Parents” airs at 9 p.m. Nov. 5, 2010, on CMT-TV.