We parents need to care what the professional world is talking about amongst themselves. I go to these conferences and participate but we need more families doing so. There are those who say this is inappropriate or that professionals have some sort of special club or privilege: that's a myth. I wish it was true!
The eating disorders "community" is really a number of somewhat overlapping social groups and a number of trade organizations whose chief goals are professional development and marketing. Although some names are known to all, and some domains of research are commonly referred to, the truth is that most of the ED world doesn't talk to or listen to one another. There's nothing that is agreed upon. No one field or level of professionalism has ownership or requires accountability. There are small groups who mostly only know or deal with one another. It isn't just a research-clinical gap, there is a lack of any common principles or practices or beliefs.
One thing parents can do is read and familiarize ourselves with everything we can, including professional journals. We can also hold opinions, and we can interact with the professionals out there publishing and speaking and doing advocacy. There is no line, really, between professionals and the public. There is no certification or professional guild that makes one person an expert on eating disorders and someone else an outsider. We are not outsiders.
In a field with NO consensus, NO standards, and no professional certification we parents - and patients and concerned members of the public - have a right and a responsibility to inform ourselves and form opinions based on the facts.