The D’Amelios talk TikTok stardom, social media, and setting the tone.
Q: When did you realize how famous your daughters were getting?
MARC: In the summer of 2019, both girls had a decent following on Instagram, but it was mostly just local, a couple of thousand followers. Then Charli got up to about 40,000. We were like, How do you have 40,000 people? That’s half of a football stadium! (Ed. Note: She now has 42.3 million, which is a lot of football stadiums.)
Q: What are the silver linings of social media that some parents might miss?
M: It definitely levels the playing field. I love that you don’t have to have a friend in the business. You can just start your own thing. On TikTok, we’ve seen dentists, lawyers—so many different types of people have success.
HEIDI: Pressure washers. They’re my favorite!
Q: How do you make sure the girls don’t screw up?
H: We’ve always said that whatever you put out there is out there forever. And when people put things on the internet that they shouldn’t, we’ve discussed the consequences. It’s been a conversation since they were young.
M: We know all the horror stories about kids and social media, but they never gave us a reason to be anything but supportive.
Q: How do you make sure their self-esteem isn’t wrapped up in likes?
M: You can’t say it one time; we discuss it every day, from all different angles. We let them know that as much as the positive things are great, and the negative things are bad, neither should define you. When you get the likes, it makes you think you’re better than you are. And the hate makes you feel worse than life could ever be. Remember who you are and where you came from.
Q: How do you discipline kids when you can’t take away their phones?
M: That we have managed to create an environment where our kids don’t want to disappoint us is more powerful than taking away their phones. We’ve always erred on the side of giving them freedom. And with that, we have two pretty good kids. But no matter how many followers they get, they know the rules.
H: This ride has not been perfect and they’ve made poor choices at times, but the way that they felt after the fact was more punishment than anything Marc and I could’ve done. It’s about how they learn and grow. It’s tricky right now—people aren’t allowed to make mistakes. But mistakes are part of growing up; they will happen! The girls know we’re here for them, especially in those times.
“Social media can be a big, scary world. But it can also be rewarding and, above all, a place where we connect. So we need to have these candid conversations with kids (and even ourselves!) early on about using it for good.”—Jonathan
Q: What are some of the rules?
H: They always had to get their homework done and do their chores in order to do extracurricular activities. That was never up for debate. So now they wear a lot of hats, but it’s ingrained.
Q: Do the girls still come to you guys during a tough moment?
H: They actually do. We’re their first call. Whether the issue is negativity online or just anything in their lives that they’re struggling with, we have their backs.
Q: What can parents expect from your podcast, Marc & Heidi—The Other D’Amelios?
M: Most parents aren’t dealing with social media the way we are, but they are dealing with it. Whether your kids has a million followers or a hundred, the positives and negatives are the same. We want to talk with other parents about what’s happening with their kids, help them navigate social media.
Q: Are you prepared for judgment?
H: We get backlash all the time. Our approach isn’t preachy. It’s just “This is what we did.” And hopefully people find something to take away. Everybody has to do what’s right for their family, their kids.
Q: What’s it been like letting the cameras in for The D’Amelio Show on Hulu?
M: So far, knock wood, it’s been really positive. For the last 18 months, someone has always had a camera in their hand and now it’s just strangers with cameras in their hands. They’re just trying to get an inside look of what it’s like for us day to day. We made it clear up front that we’re not going to be flipping tables. We’re a pretty normal family.
“Whether your kid has a million followers or a hundred, the positives and negatives are the same.”—Marc D’Amelio
By Laura Morgan | Feature photograph by Christopher Lane/Getty Images | All other images courtesy of the D’Amelio family