Sections

Services

Information

US United States

Parenting

Analysis and Comment (72)

People who have been in care are more likely to have children at an early age and are at greater risk of having their own child taken into care. Mika Heittola/Shutterstock

We remove kids from abuse and neglect, but are they better off in the long run?

Most people reasonably assume there is evidence of good long-term outcomes for children who come into contact with child protection systems. Why else would we intervene in the lives of children and their…
Happy parenting won’t necessarily get you into Oxbridge. Parenting via Goodluz/Shutterstock

Parenting is not the key to tackling inequality

Britain is quickly turning into a nation characterised by an obscene and unsustainable wealth gap, according to a new report on social mobility. Yet behind the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s…
Four-year-old Chloe Valentine sustained injuries and died after being made to ride and repeatedly crash her 50-kilogram motorbike. AAP Image/South Australian Supreme Court

Abuse and neglect: Australia’s child protection ‘crisis’

The tragic death of four-year old Chloe Valentine in South Australia has raised concerns that the state’s child protection system is in crisis. Following a history of abuse and neglect, Chloe’s mother…
Decisions are difficult and prone to error when risk and protective factors appear to be fairly equal. atikinka/Shutterstock

Risky business: how protection workers decide to remove children from their parents

Imagine you’re a child protection worker who has received a notification from a teacher voicing concerns about a child in her class. The case involves a five-year-old boy named Toby. Toby’s mum has had…
Gentle parenting means no punishments and no rewards: just a partnership with your kids where they want to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. Shutterstock

‘Gentle parenting’ explainer: no rewards, no punishments, no misbehaving kids

In a piece in The Conversation, Bernadette Saunders described positive discipline. Parents who practise positive discipline or gentle parenting use neither rewards nor punishments to encourage their children…
Happiness was assumed in medieval times as the inevitable outcome for a child who lived his life right. AAP/ Joe Castro

Snowplow, helicopter – medieval? Parenting advice for the ages

Are you a helicopter parent, hovering around your offspring at all times? Perhaps “snowplow” or “free range” is more your style. Or maybe, you should give medieval parenting a shot. Much of the advice…
Heeding four key messages can make learning to drive a safe and happy experience. Bridie Scott-Parker

What parents need to know about learner drivers: four key lessons

Learner drivers and parents are often thrown in the deep end when it comes to learning to drive and recording hours in the logbook. As part of a unique approach to improving young driver road safety, I…
Leisel Jones (centre, in 2010) has 10 gold Commonwealth medals to her name – on par with Susie O'Neill and Ian Thorpe. Is the next swimming star in your family? AAP/Dave Hunt

Want to raise a gold medallist? Six tips for sporting success

Australia has kicked off the Commonwealth Games with a bang, winning 17 medals in the first day of competition, including five gold medals. The women’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay had a particularly successful…
Same-sex parents are more likely to share child care and work responsibilities more equitably than other families. Jessica Lucia/Flickr

Kids from same-sex families fare as well as peers – or better

It’s often suggested that children with same-sex parents have poorer outcomes because they’re missing a parent of a particular sex. But research my colleagues and I published in the journal BMC Public…
Let’s ignore the policymakers, kid. Wilson X

Focus on attachment in parenting policy is misplaced

A recent report from the Sutton Trust is the latest in a line of recommendations for family policy to focus on promoting secure attachment between parents and their children. What puzzles me is why the…
Is that you, dad? SBS documentary questions oft-quoted figures on dads who are not the real father of their children. Shutterstock

What are the chances that your dad isn’t your father?

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But…
The benefits children gain from Authoritative parenting benefit their own children in turn. Angerboy

Talking to kids about emotions matters more than you think

Pop culture parenting styles like “Helicopter” and “Snowplow” have received a lot of recent media attention. Such coverage tends to overlook the findings of decades of parenting research. Much of this…
New mothers make a lot of decisions to improve their babies' welfare. Megan Myers

Does becoming a mother make women ‘greener’?

Stop press! Actress Julia Roberts has been spotted in a Prius and is reportedly into reusable coffee cups and solar panels. According to media reports, it was the birth of her twins, rather than her Oscar-winning…
We think checkouts influence obesity but does it? Jurijus Azanovas

Hard Evidence: do supermarket checkouts make kids obese?

Your eye gets caught by the dried apples slices and pistachios but your child, sitting in the trolley, sees the Percy pig sweets. The queue is moving slowly, how well do you resist? A commentary by Deborah…
People in countries with greater gender equality don’t report lower levels of work-family conflict – instead, it transfers to men. Image from shutterstock.com

Having it all: in pursuit of gender equality and work-life balance

I recently asked my University of Melbourne undergraduates to answer the following hypothetical: your child is sick at school. Who would usually pick him or her up? Their response was as expected – a third…
Children’s freedom to travel around their neighbourhood without adults has dramatically declined over the past 30 years. Image from shutterstock.com

Ditch the cotton wool and let kids travel independently

If you grew up in the 1970s or before, you probably have fond memories of traipsing around the neighbourhood with your friends and siblings, going to the shops or the park, and walking to and from school…
We need to support and educate parents to change their outdated attitudes about smacking. Image from shutterstock.com

A wake-up call for parents who smack their children

Most parents want what’s best for their children. But when it comes to discipline, some misguidedly use physical force to punish or intimidate. Let’s be clear: hitting and unnecessarily hurting children…
When parents focus intently on their child’s success, sometimes they can miss out on important life lessons. Gladskikh Tatiana/Shutterstock

Helicopter, snowplow or free range – what’s your parenting style?

It used to be said that the difficulty with parenting is that no-one gives you a manual, but you could argue that adage is no longer true. From “tiger mums” to “attachment parents”, countless manifestos…
Social workers are quick to be blamed when things go wrong. PA/John Stillwell

I don’t like the idea of a nasty social worker - do you?

Social workers have one of the most difficult jobs to do. Imagine juggling several cases involving children at risk in their own home at the same time - and making decisions that could affect those children…
When it comes to food we follow our parents. PA/Anthony Devlin

Time to face hard truths when it comes to obese children

We’re grappling with a rapidly increasing number of children who are obese. In the US, where a third of Americans are considered obese, a leading group of doctors have officially designated obesity as…
Early identification and behavioural intervention is the best way to minimise the effects of autism. Image from shutterstock.com

Mums and dads, don’t ignore the early signs of autism

When a newborn joins a family we become beguiled by the perfection of this wondrous new being. Any hint of difference is easily overlooked during the early years. We now understand that the onset of symptoms…
Sharing a bed with your baby is not inherently dangerous if the known risk factors for SIDS are eliminated. Image from shutterstock.com

Safety first: reducing the risks of sleeping with your baby

With so much contradictory information about whether it’s safe for mothers to share a bed with their baby, it’s easy to see why parents are confused. The release yesterday of a paper in BMJ Open added…
Timing sex around ovulation doesn’t change the odds of having a boy or girl. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: you can control the sex of your baby

Despite most parents ultimately just wishing for a healthy baby, there are many cultural and social factors that can drive the desire for a baby of a particular sex. The medical technology for sex selection…
Overprotective policies constrain kids and teach them to value risk assessment over opportunity. Sim Dawdler/Flickr

Kids need to take risks: Mum and Dad will just have to deal with it

We take an “efficiency” approach to childhood and child-rearing in Australia. We want kids to grow up and become productive economic citizens without them deviating from identified pathways, and society…
Controlled crying is when parents respond to their infant’s cries and gently comfort them, then return at increasing time intervals. Flickr/tea...

Monday’s medical myth: controlled crying damages babies' brains

In my clinical work with pregnant and postnatal mums experiencing anxiety and mood disorders, few issues are reported as consistently as sleep deprivation. Parents who spend the first year of their child’s…
Bed-sharing seems like a workable option to settle infants and to gain much-needed sleep. But is it worth the risks? DanielJames

Sharing a bed with your baby – realities vs recommendations

Most parents will tell you that as soon as they announced their pregnancy, the advice started rolling in. Much of it might have been sensible and evidence-based, but it’s difficult to sort the myths from…
Too much urging can backfire and entrench some parents' opposition to vaccination. Flickr/skippytpe

Parents' decisions about vaccination and the art of gentle persuasion

Dr Seuss’ book Green Eggs and Ham is built around the urgings of a weird creature, Sam I Am, who insists the narrator eat the food of its title. When the narrator refuses, Sam issues an ever-widening range…
We may have to apologise for intercountry adoptions in future, just as Victoria has apologised to the children of forced adoption mothers here. AAP/Paul Jeffers

The politics of ‘orphans’ and the dirty tactics of the adoption lobby

You might not have realised it, but it is Adoption Awareness Week. Every year at this time lobbyists pull out the big gun – the celebrity card - and Deborra-Lee Furness hits the airwaves. The messages…
Telstra listened to customer complaints about data privacy, but they could have done more. gailjadehamilton

Telstra’s revised cyber-safety service could (and should) be better

Telstra’s first attempt to introduce a cyber-safety service for mobile customers in June was a flop of significant proportions. Customers and concerned members of the public reacted strongly to the collection…
Approximately 1% of adults and 4% of children stutter. khrawlings/Flickr.

Explainer: what is stuttering?

For the 1% of adults worldwide who stutter, the everyday task of picking up a phone, asking for directions, or ordering food in a restaurant can be incredibly difficult. Stuttering is even more common…
Women can move more easily in water, enabling them to change position with ease. Flickr/kTLindSAy

Monday’s medical myth: water births are risky

“Women aren’t dolphins” is a phrase often bandied about by those who question why women want to immerse themselves in pools or warm baths during labour and birth. They forget that we’re not mountain goats…
Early exposure to siblings and dogs may help to train the developing immune system. Flickr/henry...

Infants with siblings and pets less likely to develop allergies

Having older siblings and a dog that lives in the home could reduce the likelihood of infants developing egg allergies, according to a new study published in the latest edition of the journal Allergy…
We often preface words like slap and smack with “just a little” to make it sound more socially acceptable. paulscott

Time for an end to parental tough love

Picture this: you’re standing in a long, slow-moving queue. People around you are disgruntled and complaining. You turn to talk with the person behind you and someone else jumps the queue in front of you…
Hitting and other forms of harsh physical punishment is associated with mental health problems later in life. Spamily

Parents, it’s never okay to hit your kids

Research published this month in the journal Pediatrics confirms what child advocates have long known: it’s never okay to hit children. Study author Tracie Afifi and her colleagues investigated the link…
Between 10% and 45% of children have one or more sleep problems. Jack French

Explainer: childhood sleep disorders

Any parent will tell you the meaning of the saying “slept like a baby” is completely opposite to reality. Thankfully, many parents succeed in establishing a routine to their baby’s initial erratic sleep…
Questions of cuckoldry and fidelity have always existed – and comfort has come from religious customs. More Good Foundation

In the name of the father: the links between religion and paternity

Religious leaders and holy texts share deep preoccupations with sex and reproduction. From Islamic purdah to Jewish menstrual purity laws, to Vatican neuroses about everything from contraception to masturbating…
Doctors for the Family’s claims aren’t based on scientific evidence. flickr/Poes In Boots

Don’t believe the hype: kids with same-sex parents are well adjusted

“[T]he evidence is clear that children who grow up in a family with a mother and a father do better in all parameters than children without.” That’s according to the Doctors for the Family’s submission…
Intellectually disabled children who undergo the “Ashley procedure” are stunted to prevent the onset of puberty. flickr/visions by vicky

Ashley’s treatment: the arrested development of a disabled child

A growing number of parents are seeking the “Ashley Treatment,” a highly experimental medical intervention designed to arrest the physical and sexual development of severely disabled children. This invasive…
We can reduce rates of childhood obesity but it requires a coordinated, consistent approach. Sean Dreilinger

Healthier kids requires more than getting them off the couch

Seventeen years of our research into childhood obesity is starting to deliver dividends. We now know what kinds of interventions are effective for reducing the number of overweight and obese children in…
Children’s brains are plastic and sensitive to their environments. annagarcia

Nature and nurture: why do boys and girls behave differently?

New evidence is emerging that confirms what parents and children have reported for generations: boys and girls behave differently, and parenting practices vary depending on the gender of the child. Boys…
The victims of forced adoption want an apology from the Commonwealth government. Nikkirk

Re-writing Australia’s history of forced adoption

A long-awaited Senate Committee report will tomorrow reveal whether the Commonwealth’s policies and practices played a role in coercing young, unwed Australian women to give up their newborn babies for…
It’s the quality, not quantity, of the time spent with children that counts most. Sean drillinger

Work keeps mums happy and children well-adjusted

Conservative commentary often attempts to reinstate the primacy of stay-at-home motherhood, prompting feelings of guilt among working mothers. But a recent study might help to finally lay this issue to…
Parents under the most pressure are those who have to work but would prefer to be looking after their kids. Big Grey Mare Back But Barely

Stay-at-home or working mum? It’s the choice that matters most

The question of whether a parent – in most cases, mothers – can or should return to paid employment and in what capacity, is once again in the spotlight thanks to a recent study in the American Journal…
Infants should sleep alone without bedding or toys that could cover their face. Flickr/dontshoot me

Don’t believe the hype: sleeping with your baby is not okay

In a recent visit to Australia, US Anthropologist Professor James McKenna claimed that under the right circumstances, breastfed babies could safely sleep in the same bed as their mothers. This was a perfectly…
Home births for high-risk pregnancies and where a registered midwife isn’t present are risky. Deannster

For some women, unassisted home births are worth the risks

We live in a world with many different perspectives on risk. Entire professions now exist to advise us on how to recognise, avoid and manage risk. And the maternity and obstetric professions are no different…
Children should be taught to play music themselves rather than just listening to it. Naruco

Monday’s medical myth: play Mozart to boost your baby’s IQ

What parent can pass up the chance to boost their child’s intelligence by putting on some nice classical music? The popular idea that IQ scores can be raised by listening to Mozart is a case study in how…
Many extremely premature babies will have lifelong physical and intellectual deficiencies. kqedquest

Balancing hope and fear for babies born at 24 weeks gestation

Imagine how frightening it must be for a woman to go into labour when she is just over halfway through her pregnancy and her baby has only had 23 or 24 weeks to grow. She and her family are overcome with…
The frequently cited Netherlands study doesn’t show it’s safe to give birth at home in Australia. Assy

Thinking about giving birth at home? Look at the evidence on safety

We’re fortunate to live in a society where robust evidence forms the basis of the information health-care professionals provide to patients – and home birth should be no exception. But the evidence about…
Parenting programs need to actively include fathers. Jason Coleman

Do parenting programs work for dads?

It comes as no surprise to see that parenting programs attract mothers. Drop into a “toddler taming” discussion, a workshop on parents and literacy or a seminar about communicating with your teenager and…
Social realities have a bigger impact on when women have babies than “medical facts”. ECohen

Are older women selfish for having babies?

It seems we have a new “barbecue stopper” about women and families, after comments last week by Perth obstetrician Barry Walters that it is selfish for older women to have babies. Defending himself from…
NRL player Craig Wing has a sister with Down Syndrome. AAP

How come you don’t want one? Living with Down Syndrome

“Fuck you, Wing, your sister has Down syndrome!” These words were once hurled at NSW rugby league star Craig Wing while he was playing for the Sydney Roosters against the Canterbury Bulldogs at the Sydney…
Guidelines say no TV for under 2s, then no more than two hours a day. Keenen Brown

Square eyes: how much TV is too much for kids?

If you’ve ever sat your toddler down in front of the television to give yourself a few minutes of much-needed rest, you’re certainly not alone. But for many parents, those few minutes of bliss that come…

Columnists (1)

Research and News (1)

Research Briefs (8)

Blogging may help new mums connect

New mums who read or write blogs are more likely to feel less alone compared with mothers who do not blog. The research found…

Child hunger level underreported

A new study has shown that addressing child hunger at an individual and family level may not be enough, with only 70% of…