Jay Zurlinden was losing a grip on his family.
In August, Jay, 32, a professional wrestler from Liberty Township, was to marry Cassie Britton, 25, and officially welcome her 6-year-old son Brayden into his family, which consisted of three children of his own: Gabrielle, 11, Kylie, 10, and Jayden, 6.The family, which lived together, was having trouble blending in late 2011, though. The two boys fought constantly, which caused the parents to argue.
“We needed to find a way to make a difference within our family,” Jay Zurlinden said. “Being a blended family, it is very tough. Sometimes you need help.”
Deborah Tillman, the host of Lifetime’s “America’s Supernanny: Family Lockdown,” answered Jay’s call for help. The episode featuring the Zurlindens will air at 10 p.m. today.
“I wrote in and applied and poured my heart out to them,” he said. “If I didn’t do something soon, I was going to lose (Cassie) and my family.”
Tillman and the show’s crew occupied the family’s home July 9-17. During the show, she helps them resolve parenting issues.
With microphones attached to everyone and cameras in their faces, the filming appeared to be causing additional stress.
“It was definitely aggravating at times,” Jay said, “but, at the end of the day, my fiancée and I realized the importance of it all. It was something that needed to be done.”
Jay and Cassie met five years ago when they worked at a pharmaceutical company. At that time, Jay was raising three children on his own. Jayden was 18 months when he was diagnosed with perianal rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
“Cassie stepped in as a friend,’’ he said. “She helped out through everything, and we just ended up falling in love.”
With Cassie at their side, Jayden battled 40 weeks of chemotherapy and underwent 23 sessions of radiation before he was 2 years old. With her support, as well as the Mason-based Dragonfly Foundation, he has been in remission for four years and has developed a bond with his new brother since the show filmed.
“They root for each other now when before they would have laughed at one another,” said Jay Zurlinden. “Now they are there to pick each other up, give each other tips, help each other out and work together. It is amazing.”
The family is planning to watch the show tonight together at home.
“The show has helped so much,” said Jay Zurlinden, who married Cassie on Aug. 4. “There were so many techniques and tools that we learned. We are happier than we have ever been. We now know how to work together as a family.”
(If you miss tonight’s premiere, the same episode can be seen Wednesday at 5 p.m., Friday at 11 p.m. and Saturday at 3 a.m.)
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