by Michelle LaRowe
As I’ve had the opportunity to interview some of the nanny and mom stars of ABC Family’s Beverly Hills Nannies, I thought that the dad’s needed some attention too. I had chance to catch up with Barry Pettitt, millionaire real-estate mogul and new husband to Ariane Bellamar about life as a stepdad, nanny employer and reality star.
Here’s how he answered my questions.
eNannySource: Barry, during episode one you seemed to cause a little trouble. From what viewers saw, you said hello to Amber and she said hello back, but then you reported her to Ariane for disturbing you. Was there more to the story?
Barry: Yes, in a way there was. As what actually happened was that Amber had brought her dog to our home – albeit not a problem for us, but as it was on Day One it was somewhat of an unexpected event; at least for me! I had heard it barking in the garden whilst I was upstairs on the outside balcony in the middle of an international business telephone conference call. I could also hear “human” sounds, which led me to believe that it was someone other than my wife – especially as it was much louder; with the decibels and tone range being significantly higher than normal. After aborting my call – due to the background noise being professionally unacceptable to continue – I then went to seek out Ari in order to find out what was going on and also to gently suggest that perhaps the noise of both canine and canine owner be kept to a minimum, especially when outside and if I am on the phone. Ok, I am English; therefore I did not want to be rude or too direct, especially on Day One.
eNannySource: How is your relationship with Emma? As a non-biological parent, do you engage in any of the discipline? What advice for step or adoptive dads do you have with regards to disciplining their non-biological children?
Barry: Fortunately for me, I am blessed with having a wonderful relationship with my beautiful and amazing, she takes after her Mum, daughter. She is such a joy and brightens up my day, every day.
Of course, as her dad, I get the both best and worst jobs in being able to teach her whatever I can with regard to certain disciplines, and also discipline, in order to try to hopefully help her in her life ahead with manners, hygiene, friendliness and gentleness being some of the majors, and, of course, there are the inevitable times when I have to be the “bad cop” as Mummy is always the good cop and I have to discipline Em, however, I always try to do it in a particular way which is softened by politeness, a gentle voice and a kind of turnaround; whereby, for example, bath times can involve daddy getting splashed or co-playing with bath toys, or bed-time ends up with us both playing iPad games before then turning everything off and going to sleep.
My advice to any step or adoptive dad is to simply enjoy the moment – as any child is both beautiful and amazing – so to be able to have the opportunity to love them, teach them and help them grow up with confidence, happiness and self-esteem is probably the greatest gift of an opportunity that can be bestowed upon any adult in their lifetime – much better than anything else, well, except for making more children, of course!
eNannySource: I was really impressed with how much slack you gave Amber the day of your wedding when your childcare arrangements fell through. I imagine having to even think about childcare on your wedding day was stressful. If that was me, she would have been fired on the spot! Why didn’t you insist she show up? Although she got Kristin to cover, wasn’t the ultimate responsibility of providing childcare hers?
Barry: Great question! I am lucky in that I eat stress for breakfast; business-wise. Therefore, this was not considered an emergency; after all, no-one had died or was critically injured – although possibly if Ari had taken the call first there might have been an ambulance, or two, involved. However, I feel that sometimes it is best to listen, learn and assess the damage from the culprit, I mean victim, ok, I mean from Amber. She gave me the problem, literally, and also during the call she gave me her solution – I also tried to give her a way-out, albeit as a kind of test; which had she taken it would definitely resulted in some consequences immediately thereafter – but, to her credit, she stepped up to the occasion in terms of taking full responsibility and, in doing so, made it to the wedding, Although, I must say that I did not appreciate her walking up the aisle with Emma; as we had already pre-arranged that Em would walk up the aisle on her own and also say “ME !!!” when asked who gives Ari away – Anyway, it was a wonderful wedding !
eNannySource: How involved are you in with managing your real-life nanny and the screening and hiring process of finding a new one?
Barry: I would like to say that I am equally involved in all aspects but always tend to leave the final decision on those particular things to Ari – unless if I see she is maybe being taken advantage of, like when Amber tried to make out that Ari had treated her poorly and Amber could not continue. On those occasions I will then step in and take charge, i.e. Me Tarzan, She Ari, or my attempt to be a Knight in Shining Amour – well, I always want to try to be a romantic Englishman to my wife.
With regard to our existing nanny at our ranch in San Diego, where we have an informal animal rescue and lovely home, she is really fantastic and we are very, very lucky to have her and her husband to look after Emma, and us, as well as our animals and our home.
eNannySource: We learned from the show that you spent some time in the hospital. How are you feeling now?
Barry: Thank you for asking and I am feeling very well. I actually had a dissection of one of the arteries to my brain; which if I had not gone quickly to the doctor, who then immediately sent me straight to Cedar Sinai Hospital, it could have been critical – so I was very, very lucky. Chances were apparently 1-in-350,000 that it would probably have resulted in a stroke or aneurism. Therefore, I am smelling the roses every morning.
eNannySource: What do you think it takes to be the right nanny for your family?
Barry: I really believe that there is no one formula. It really depends on the uniqueness of the nanny being someone who can provide us, Ari, Em and me, with confidence, comfort, peace of mind and happiness of course. We are a highly charged, dysfunctional and demanding family leading lovely and exciting lives, however, we believe in trying to treat people in the same way we would like to be treated and therefore we would like our nanny to be an integral part of our family; feeling as happy with us as we are with her or him.
eNannySource: Do you have any other children? If so, were they cared for by a nanny? What was your experience like?
Barry: Yes, I am lucky to have 2 other children – Ben, 22 and Laura, 29. They are both married and doubtless working of making me a grandfather, which would make Ari the world’s most beautiful and sexiest step-grandma or even step-nanny; as I called my maternal grandmother “nan”.
Unfortunately, they were not cared for by a nanny. They both went to excellent boarding schools, which is an English trait that I now realize is probably unreasonably archaic, unless there is a really, really good reason not to bring up your children at home. And it was a time for me when I was perhaps too young, inexperienced and somewhat stupid in not truly recognizing that my own childhood as an only-child without parents being brilliantly brought up by my lovely Irish nan in London, was not exactly the norm. And so whilst I wanted to give them the best possible academic education, by sending them to the best-of-their-kind boarding school, where the Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward went, with whatever money I could earn and spend -while having to travel 4 – 6 months a year around the world on business, I was nevertheless in fact depriving them of the real love that only a dedicated family can give at home. A mistake I will never make again with Emma or any more children that I hope we will have in the near future.
eNannySource: Do you like being a television reality star? Are you hopeful for another season?
Barry: Actually, that is very kind of you to say so, although I have to respectfully disagree with me being a TV reality star, as the stars or Super-Stars, in my eyes are Ari and Emma. They really make the show and stand out above all others.
Yes, I am hopeful and crossing my fingers and toes for another season – as I really, really want Ari to continue her chance to live her dream; both on and off camera, of course! She is such an amazing mother, wife and also co-parent to all our animals – horses, cow, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, peacocks, birds and dogs – to name some – and has the most beautiful heart – even though everything else on the outside is also just a beautiful!
You can watch ABC Family’s Beverly Hills Nannies Tuesday at 9 PM/8 Central.