Taking celebrity advice is idiotic. Taking celebrity parenting advice is even worse.
I’m not gonna tell anyone to “shut up and dribble” or to stick to rapping, no matter how ridiculous their comments might be. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and if we’re gonna get mad that a famous person uses their platform to spout theirs, then maybe we shouldn’t have made that person famous to begin with. The fact is, getting parenting advice from almost anyone – other parents, your parents, non-parents, coworkers, that close-minded anti-Trumper with a dad blog – is one of the small tortures of this lifestyle.
But there’s something worse about celebrity parenting advice.
Because these people are famous, whether through talent or looks or happenstance, they have access to more people than most, whether those people actively grant it to them or not. I couldn’t care less about reality stars or television chefs or the royal family or the guy that holds P. Diddy’s umbrella, and yet because they’ve been granted fame, and because so many people do inexplicably care about them, their messages are amplified and spread into every nook and cranny. You’d have to live completely off the grid to avoid much of this stuff, and that’s not a luxury many of us can afford these days.
At the same time, their lifestyles are so far afield from what most of us experience, they way they live and the way they parent – no matter how often they go to Starbucks or take their kids to the park and struggle with the car seat – has no bearing on our lives at all.
But that doesn’t mean you have to like it.
Sometimes a celebrity talks out of school about something on which they have no expertise; think Robert DeNiro or Jenny McCarthy on vaccinations. Sometimes it’s celebrities crowing about work-life balance when they live a lavish lifestyle full of nannies and personal trainers and personal chefs; see Gwyneth Paltrow or Angelina Jolie. And then there are the ones everybody actually likes, who seem like regular people who got lucky, like Chrissy Teigan or Kristen Bell or Ryan Reynolds. They make jokes and they complain about the same stuff and they’re down-to-earth and they’re just like us!
And then – maybe because the media lionizes them through no fault of their own, or maybe because they, like most of us, occasionally forget themselves on social media, and maybe because when you have people recording everything you say, you’re bound to make a misstep or two – they are presented as having cracked the code with their celebrity parenting advice.
I like all of those people. In some ways, I envy all of those people. But I don’t care one whit about how they parent their kids, anymore than I care how you parent yours. (And I bet many of them would agree with me.) It’s none of my business, and their lifestyles, no matter how “relatable” their personalities, have almost zero relevance to mine, or, I’m guessing, to yours. I don’t care how they do it. Maybe if they were parenting experts I would care (except there is no such thing), and maybe if I was a rich celebrity juggling movie shoots and dodging paparazzi while my nanny picks my kids up from daycare I’d be more interested. But I doubt it.
I’m not interested in hearing how they’re killing parenting anymore than I’m interested in hearing them get shamed for what they name their kids (or for anything else they do).
The fact that they’re famous doesn’t make them special or better. It just makes them different. If I’m going to take advice from anyone on anything, it’s most likely to be someone with whom I share more than a superficial, practically universal trait. There are parents of every demographic. Listening to a wealthy celebrity’s advice on raising their kids is the same thing as listening to an Alaskan Inuk or a Scientologist from Las Vegas. We may both have kids but that ain’t exactly rare. I’m gonna need more overlap than that before I start enacting your parenting hacks.
Of course, these celebrities are not to blame for any of this. We are.
They set out to be actors or singers or artists, not to be parenting role models. It’s not their fault that we can’t afford or have access to many of the perks their lifestyles provide; they earned it, good for them. And it’s not their fault they have millions of people willing to listen to them expound upon Trump or co-sleeping or screen-time or eating organic or whatever they want to talk about. They “earned” that platform, and I’m sure it’s not all sunshine and lollipops (I don’t think anyone envies Kate Middleton’s obligation to get out of bed and face the press mere hours after giving birth!).
But it’s their prerogative to discuss the things they’re passionate about, and pass along their parenting tips and philosophies to anyone who wants to hear it. Far be it from me to stop them from speaking their minds. God knows I don’t enjoy when other people tell me to shut up.
But we don’t need to assign significance to the things they say, or to agree with them, or even to listen. I sure don’t; I’m too busy raising my kids to bother worrying how anyone else, famous or not, is raising theirs.