If I have to listen to one more actor give parenting advice, I’m going to scream out loud. I suspect DOCTOR Jen Gunter feels the same way listening to Gwyneth Paltrow – I suspect that’s how most health care experts feel when patients and their families base their health choices on what a celebrity said on a late night show.
My experience working with parents of teens has taught me that fundamentally, deep down, Moms and Dads know exactly what the best course of action is for any problem with their own child. My job is to help them realize this and find the courage to take the best action.
Here is a typical debrief of a poor outcome of a parent-teen conversation:
Me: I thought you decided that you would say, “Blah, blah, blah”.
Parent: I did, but then I heard a podcast with this “TV star and parenting expert” and she made so much sense that I decided to follow her advice.
If you, as a parent, find yourself thinking something similar, these are the questions you could consider asking yourself: “Does she know my son? Like I do?”
Whenever this happens in my practice, I always wonder whether years of practice and 13 years of training count for anything. I wonder whether mentioning my 3 children and 2 stepchildren would give me more credibility than medical training, specialty training, subspecialty training and years of experience.
Why do people believe celebrities over experts? There is a link between fame and credibility that is well researched and, let’s face it, anyone can read parenting books and then frame the advice into their own words. Where celebrities have an advantage is with BRAND. Brand development is a celebrity’s business, while experts are often busy with their day jobs. If you were a celebrity, you’d probably want something to do between projects. It seems to me that many celebrities tell themselves that the best job between movies and mini-series and TV shows is a parenting gig.
Until recently, brand development is not something doctors have had to consider – being a doctor gave you credibility. With social media, blogs and podcasting, many doctors are developing brands. For the most part, I just want to help kids and parents, but blogging, twitter and a Facebook page are doubtless the beginning of brand development for me. I don’t look on other doctors or psychiatrists or psychologists as competition. I see them as colleagues and value and share the information they provide. I do feel, however, that I am competing with actors and other celebrities – especially when their advice doesn’t support parents.
Because of all this, I am doing what I must to build my own brand and that of other medical experts. It would be great if medical associations helped, and sometimes they do. However, actors get more help from their marketing agencies, despite their lack of expertise.
So, please, whenever you are tempted to take advice from a celebrity with no training and experience in parenting, please, please look up what an expert had to say about the problem you are having. After all, I don’t have to study a script to know how to answer your questions.
(You can buy this T-shirt on Amazon. I will possibly use it to promote my brand.)