She was admittedly star struck at last month’s Songwriters Hall of Fame induction dinner—which was odd, considering she’s the daughter of the winners of the SongHall’s prestigious Johnny Mercer Award—and that she’s a major success in her own right.
But while her parents Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote such classic songs as “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,”
Soul And Inspiration” and “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” Dr. Jenn Berman, who’s better known as Dr. Jenn to legions of listeners of her daily call-in Sirius/XM call-in advice show The Love And Sex Show With Dr. Jenn and viewers of the various morning news and talk shows, is a marriage, family and child therapist.
“I’m not even the slightest bit musical!” says Berman, who lives near her parents in Los Angeles. “It’s really, really sad. The biggest thing I got from my dad is my butt!”
She’s joking, of course. She was actually named after her father’s first therapist, and attributes her way with words to her mom’s knack for a memorable lyric.
“One thing I really did get from my parents is the encouragement to do what they did—follow your passion,” Berman continues. “So I became a member of the U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team [she performed in the 1984 Olympics], and through my dad became interested in sports psychology.”
Berman, who would go on to apply sports psychology techniques to clients ranging from fellow Olympians to amateur golfers, was perfectly positioned to study psychology firsthand.
“All creative people have stuff,” she says. “It’s impossible to have a creative mind and not have angst to work through–and a lot of creativity is a great outlet for pain and angst and trauma. Freud talked about sublimation—the best means of doing something with your negative energy—and the whole rock ‘n’ roll energy is built on that: You break up and break hearts and write songs about it.”
In her practice, Berman has worked with many people in the entertainment business.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find someone as creative as my parents, who hasn’t had their struggles,” she notes. “You assume that celebrities have no problems, but everybody has crap and nobody has a perfect life. I’m just very grateful my parents always had insight and awareness into themselves and turned me on to psychology.”
While she says it was “very important” for Berman to achieve her own identity beyond being the daughter of both Rock and Roll and Songwriters Hall of Famers Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, she always loved their music.
“I grew up in a house with rock ‘n’ roll—a liberal, open household, with not a lot to rebel against,” she recalls. “There was nothing I could do to freak them out, so my rebellion was that I went the other way! In fact, I was the only kid whose parents said, ‘You’re very creative. You don’t need to go to college. Do what you want to do.’ And here I am with a list of college degrees—I sure showed them!”
And who is Berman’s closest friend and collaborator? Her mom!
Since its publication in May, mother and daughter have been tirelessly promoting their acclaimed children’s book Rockin’ Babies.
“We finish each other’s sentences, make each other laugh and have so much fun together,” says Berman, the mother of young twin daughters, who previously authored SuperBaby: 12 Ways To Give Your Child A Head Start In The First 3 Years and The A To Z Guide To Raising Happy Confident Kids. “I aspire to be as good a mom as she is and was to me. She’s just an amazing terrific extraordinary woman, and I feel lucky to spend time with her pretty much every day.”
Rockin’ Babies, she explains, is an “adult children’s book that parents can relate to,” that “came about very organically: My daughters were born with severe reflux and colic, and Mom–God bless her–came over every single night for a year to help feed them. It took one-to-three hours to feed each child and we’d get slaphappy, and realized our whole lives revolved around them, like they were the rock stars of our families–our rockin’ babies.”
The board book, then, features illustrations of “rockin’ babies” with their “roadies” (parents), “adoring fans” (families and friends), and being “hounded by paparazzi” (families and friends).
“It’s not fluffy bunnies and kittens and corny stuff but edgy and funky and a little rock ‘n’ roll, and when parents read it to kids, the kids get it on one level and the parents on another,” says Berman, whose award-winning Dr. Jenn parenting column reaches 500,000 readers each month. She and Weil are now working on new book ideas.
Additionally, Berman, who also has an eco-friendly clothing line for adults and children called Retail Therapy, remains constantly on call for an authoritative quote. She even fielded a call from Life & Style during the Songwriters Hall of Fame VIP cocktail reception, seeking comment regarding a Teen Mom in trouble.
But even though she grew up in “a household of very creative, successful and interesting people,” meeting Billy Joel at the reception was “incredible,” she says.
“I stammered out a few words, ‘I’m your biggest fan!’,” she says, adding that she played her father’s 2000 album Soul & Inspiration and “downloaded tons of Billy Joel” when she was pregnant.
“I probably have the only four-year-olds in town who get in the car and say, ‘Hey! Can we listen to Billy Joel?'” concludes Berman.
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