North Charleston parents Eddie and Susan Tilley are so strict that their children have to sign a good-behavior contract covering the use of a cell phone.
They know all the passwords to their children’s e-mail and Facebook accounts, and aren’t afraid to check up on their text messages.
’We have a no-privacy rule,’ Eddie Tilley said, adding that ’their cell phones are not their property.’
The Tilleys’ house laws are so tough that they drew the attention of the cable reality TV show ’World’s Strictest Parents.’
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On Friday, the family makes its national television debut in the seventh episode of the CMT Network’s series that showcases kids with behavior problems who temporarily leave their home environment and get exposed to a new family and a heavy dose of discipline.
At first, the couple was skeptical about getting involved. The Tilleys had been nominated by friends at the Cathedral of Praise church, where Eddie, 45, works as the children’s ministry director. They had never seen the show.
When they did watch a few episodes, the other parents who had taken part came off as heavy-handed drill instructors, barking militaristic commands. That wasn’t their style.
The Tilleys wanted to try a different angle, focusing more on communication to break through to a teenage girl from Quincy, Mass., and a teenage boy from Pittsburgh who were assigned to live under their roof for five days while the cameras rolled.
The Tilleys have been together for decades, marrying after dating at Goose Creek High School.
Susan Tilley, 45, is a registered nurse with the Medical University of South Carolina. They have two children, Matthew, 17, and Mary-Kate, 15, who won’t get her own cell phone until she is old enough to drive.
The show was filmed in September, and their first meeting didn’t go so well. The male teen showed up in saggy pants and wore a hoodie that fully covered his head. The girl asked a lot of questions, seemingly feeling out what boundaries she could push.
’Both of them brought things into the home that they weren’t supposed to,’ Eddie Tilley said, declining to be more specific.
Another concern they had came from video they watched of the teens that showed them acting out at home and being disrespectful to adults.
Once the experiment began, though, Eddie Tilley said the teens began to warm up. They were made to do chores, taken to church and spoken to on a level of respect.
’The way we got to them was not by yelling and screaming and pushing,’ he said. Both parents said they finished the week experiencing a very positive takeaway, even after having their garage converted to an equipment studio and having camera operators around 14 hours a day.
They also stay in touch with the two teens and remain optimistic that they will turn their lives around.
The seventh episode of World’s Strictest Parents premieres Friday at 10:30 p.m. on CMT.