10/03/2014 06:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Julian and Kelly McMahon on Parenting and Their App for Kids Encouraging Positive Visualization


On one hand, Julian and Kelly McMahon are a Hollywood glamour couple, on the other, they are a couple concerned with finding the best ways to parent. Julian, from Charmed, Nip/Tuck and Fantastic Four fame has been with author and former model Kelly McMahon for 12 years. Recently, the two were married.

It's the relationship between Julian and his 14-year-old daughter that sparked the idea for Kelly's book, Bedtime for Sarah Sullivan and the new iOS/Android app of the same name, for which Julian provides the father's voice.

"The book was inspired by Julian and his daughter's special, loving relationship, and was written with a theme that is very important to me: encouraging kids to practice positive visualization before bedtime," says Kelly.

Bedtime for Sarah Sullivan is intelligently put together eliciting the power of the subconscious and dreams, while being fun and fanciful for kids around 3 to 8-years-old. Kelly sites a Thomas Edison quote: "Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious."

She goes on to explain, "Research has shown that whatever you put into your mind in the last few minutes before bed, will be processed by your subconscious while you sleep, and ultimately affect your disposition the following day. The concept behind Bedtime For Sarah Sullivan is, 'Happy to bed, happy to rise.' By placing positive thoughts into your child's mind before bed, you are setting a foundation for their tomorrow."

A line from the book reads: "In your dreams, all of your wishes come true, because your dreams are specially designed by you."

I had the opportunity to talk with Julian and Kelly about parenting, step-parenting, communicating with a teenager, and Julian's unique upbringing.

What is the best advice about parenting you have received?

Julian: For me it's about following the examples that appeal to you... I notice throughout my life the people that I admire and how they raise their children.

Kelly: The best advice I received about parenting was from Julian. He is really a proponent for not rushing kids through the different stages of childhood and development. In our society, there are lots of preset notions about when and what kids should be doing. We have found from our own experience and friends, that whether they are holding on to their blanket a little longer, using a bottle longer, or in a diaper longer than other kids, if you let them move through it gently, and with positive encouragement, in their own time, they eventually do move on to the next stage, because they are ready, and with more self-confidence and security than if they had been rushed.

Julian, you were raised in a unique situation -- your father was the 20th Prime Minister of Australia. What was your childhood like?

Julian: When it's your childhood your just in it... the major thing that would probably be different was the amount of time my parents spent traveling.

What was an important lesson you learned from your father?

Julian: One of the last conversations I had with my father was just before he passed. It sounds quite simple, but it means a lot. He said, 'Make sure you're happy and make sure you enjoy your life.' It has been of great benefit to me and of great benefit to me in the way that I raise my daughter.

It wasn't something that I expected to come from my father. We just didn't have those kinds of conversations. At that point and time in his life, and how poignant it was for me was really quite significant.

Kelly, from your experience, what tips do you have for stepmoms?

Kelly: My advice to stepmoms is to own and embrace the title but eliminate the stereotype. When I was a child, my stepdad taught me that blood does not equate to love, it is the people who show up for you, support you, who are there for you on a consistent basis, and the ones who treat you with love and respect, that define true love.

I think that kids on some level understand that as a stepparent, you don't have to be all these things, so when you are, they recognize that you are making a choice, and consistently choosing them.

What is your biggest challenge in raising a teenage girl?

Julian: You've got to notice the little funks they get in. Those are important because funks can last in a kid for a year and you've got to be able to communicate with them. You've got to make sure that their door is swinging open. Whether they're gonna come though it and communicate with you, that's a different thing, but you have to allow it to be there.

I just make sure that we have time together because I found that as opposed to the 5-year-old girl who just wants to spill the beans, the 14-year-old girl wants to keep everything inside, and if I take her out to breakfast and we sit there silent for about 20 minutes, eventually she'll spill the beans. It's about not rushing, being patient and allowing them to communicate.

I notice she slides into conversations -- tests the water a little bit to find out what the response is going to be from me and depending on the response will open up more. That's why I've found for me, I really have to make sure my response and my communication with her is very open. It's a constant challenge.

Julian, what's next in your career?

Julian: I took a couple of years away from the business after finishing up Nip/Tuck. I became a stay at home father... I think I spent as much time at my daughter's school as she did!

Then after a couple of years, I decided to get back into the business. I've changed gears a little bit, I'm not saying I'm not going to get back into acting, but I'm enjoying developing [projects].