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Parenting Understood

Author: Erin O'Connor and Michelle Tangeman

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Parenting Understood is a podcast aimed at helping parents become more confident and relaxed in their parenting. We explore the current research on different parenting and child development topics and break it down into an easy to understand, relatable content. We know there is an abundance of information out there which can make it feel overwhelming. Maybe trying to determine what’s fact vs opinion makes you want to bury your head in the sand. Let us help you find and understand the evidence based resources you need, to feel more confident in the choices you make as parents. Join us each week to get a breakdown of the current research and let us guide you to becoming a more confident and relaxed parent, able to provide the sensitive and responsive care your child needs.
109 Episodes
In this episode, we speak with Renne Reina, psychologist and host of the renowned podcast, The Mom Room.  Renne delves into the fascinating world of parenting fears, drawing from her extensive social media and podcast presence. She provides insights, empathy, and practical advice around parenting, and discusses the importance of authenticity on social media. Renne emphasizes the importance of finding one’s true voice amidst digital noise and cultivating a genuine online presence. We end by highlighting the power of seeking multiple viewpoints and embracing diverse perspectives to foster a well-rounded understanding of oneself as a parent.   You can learn more about Renne Reina by listening to her podcast, The Mom Room, and following her on Instagram @thereneereina 
In this episode, we are joined by Drs Douglas Clements and Julie Sarama to discuss early math learning. Douglas H. Clements is Distinguished University Professor, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning, and Executive Director of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning at the University of Denver. Previously a kindergarten teacher for five years and a preschool teacher for one, he has conducted research and published widely in the areas of the learning and teaching of early mathematics and computer applications in mathematics education. His most recent interests are in creating, using, and evaluating a research-based curriculum and in taking successful curricula to scale using technologies and learning trajectories.He has served on the U.S. President's National Mathematics Advisory Panel, the Common Core State Standards committee, and the National Research Council’s Committee on Early Mathematics, and is and co-author each of their reports.    Julie Sarama is the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies and Professor at the University of Denver. She conducts research on young children's development of mathematical concepts and competencies, implementation and scale-up of educational reform, professional development models and their influence on student learning, and implementation and effects of software environments in mathematics classrooms. She has taught secondary mathematics and computer science, gifted math at the middle school level, preschool and kindergarten mathematics enrichment classes, and mathematics methods and content courses for elementary to secondary teachers.She designed and programmed over 50 published computer programs, including her version of Logo and Logo-based software activities, including Turtle Math™, which was awarded the Technology & Learning Software of the Year award.   In this episode, we delve into what constitutes early math knowledge, and how to support it at home. As we discuss, caregivers often engage in numeracy talk and behavior with children without consciously doing so. As Douglas and Julie point out, there are also many additional opportunities in early childhood (and beyond) to incorporate math into fun activities (such as Candyland).    To learn more about how to incorporate math into everyday interactions with your children please visit the following websites:  
In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Holly Gover, a board-certified behavior analyst with extensive experience working with children with developmental disabilities. Dr. Gover, currently a faculty member in pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, joins us to tackle a common concern for parents: picky eaters. Dr. Gover shares valuable insights on how to encourage children to try new foods in a relaxed and enjoyable manner, empowering them to feel in control of their eating choices. We also explore the warning signs that may indicate the presence of an eating disorder and discuss the pressures faced by parents when preparing meals for their children and families. Delving deeper, we uncover three essential techniques: creating a culture of trying, increasing exposure to diverse foods, and avoiding mealtime battles. These strategies serve as powerful tools for parents seeking to overcome the challenges of picky eating and to foster healthier eating habits in their children. Join us for this discussion that empowers parents with practical advice and effective approaches to navigate the world of picky eaters, ultimately creating a positive mealtime experience for the entire family.   To learn more about Michelle’s Q&A membership, please visit You can reach out to Dr. Gover by contacting her at or by visiting her webpage at
In this week's episode, we interview psychiatrist Dr. Joshua Siegel about his research on the impacts of psychedelics, such as ketamine, on depression. We delve into the growing interest in mental health and wellness and explore emerging treatment methods. Dr. Siegel shares how his research has influenced his parenting and sheds light on his perspective on his children's emotions. Tune in to gain insights into the fascinating connection between psychedelics, mental health, and parenting.   To learn more about Dr. Siegel’s research, please visit:   For more information on Michelle’s Q&A Membership, please visit:
In this episode, we speak with Melissa Finkelstein, a lawyer, author, and mother of three. Melissa discusses her latest book, Bobby the Snake and the Broken TV, which is  part of her book series, Big Feelings Friends. She shares how her own children inspired her to write these books and the importance of children's books as both a mirror and a window for our children's stories. By sharing her personal experiences, Melissa hopes to show how her books can provide a relatable and empathetic perspective for children dealing with big emotions. Tune in to this episode to learn more about the power of children's books in helping children navigate their emotions and challenges! You can learn more about Melissa by following her Instagram page @melissafinkelsteinbook and her books are available in several bookstores throughout the Northeast and they're also available on Amazon.  For more information on Parent Pocket Membership please visit Thriving 
In today’s episode, we are joined by Dr. Jessica (“Jessi”) Gold. Dr Gold, MD, MS, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine, specializing in college mental health, medical education, and physician wellness. In this episode, we discuss with Dr. Gold her work supporting the mental health needs of those on the college campus, as well as her efforts to de-stigmatize mental health and psychiatry. She further discusses how COVID exacerbated pre-existing stressors, as well as added new ones, for the population at large but especially for groups including college students and health care workers. More specifically, Dr Gold speaks about the effects of the social isolation associated with COVID on college students’ mental health, as well as how on-line learning, for many, exacerbated existing attention problems. We further discuss how the lack of a schedule during COVID contributed to college student’s motivation and interest, as well as what we can learn from the pandemic in terms of supporting college students. We conclude with a discussion of the current research on the neurological effects of COVID, and how to better support growing the work force in mental health services, especially psychiatry.    For more information on Dr. Gold and her work please visit her webpage, as well as her instagram (@drjessigold) and twitter    For more information on Parent Pocket Membership please visit Thriving 
We are thrilled to be joined in this episode by Dr. Denise Ross, faculty member at the University of Wisconsin and Chair of the UW System Institute for Urban Education. Dr. Ross is an advocate for literacy as a form of social justice. She describes how she applies verbal behavior (a language and literacy approach using principles of behavior) to reading and literacy, and discusses the systems and inequities that impact access to evidence-based practices. She further speaks to how the narrative of literacy for economically disadvantaged communities is often framed through a deficit lens. Dr.Ross also discusses how black children's literacy has historically been a tool of empowerment, and that reading instruction grounded in the science of behavior has a history of positively impacting learners' experiences.    For more information and to visit the references mentioned, please visit: UW System Institute for Urban Education: Frederick Douglass Audio Autobiography:   National Reading Panel:
In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Whitney Casares to discuss developmental milestones and their impact on children's development. We explore how parents can be overwhelmed by the stress of trying to keep up with perceived expectations for their child's development. Dr. Casares emphasizes the importance of understanding each child as a unique individual, with their own strengths and challenges, and avoiding the temptation to compare them to others or follow a one-size-fits-all approach. We also delve into the different types of developmental milestones, including both physical and emotional. We conclude by discussing the benefits of building a positive social network and how to filter out unhelpful advice and resources that push unrealistic expectations for children's development.   You can discover more about Dr. Casares’ work by downloading the app Modern Mama's Club, following her on instagram @modernmommydoc, visiting her website and by reading her book The Working Mom Blueprint.   For more information on Cooper please visit us on instagram @your_cooper and on-line at . If you are interested in joining a Cooper group please click join Cooper, where you'll fill out a brief onboarding to tell us more about yourself, your family and your parenting needs. Enter code 'ParentingUnderstood' at checkout to receive 20% off your Cooper Membership!'  
In this episode, Dr. Kelly Fradin, author of the upcoming book "Advanced Parenting: Advice for helping kids through diagnoses, differences, and mental health challenges," shares her personal story of being sick with cancer as a child and how it inspired her to create a guide for parents raising children with advanced health conditions. Dr. Fradin discusses the challenges that parents face in balancing their own personal lives, partnerships, and the care of their other children while also caring for their child, who needs different supports. She also provides insights into the resources and research available to support parents in this situation.  Dr. Kelly Fradin is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Kelly Fradin is a pediatrician and mother of two from NYC. She is the Director of Pediatrics at the Atria Institute in NYC where she works with leading experts to bring innovations in preventive care to their members and underserved populations. During her time working in public health in the South Bronx she launched her instagram account @adviceigivemyfriends to provide calm, realistic, and evidence-based advice to families. Pursuing this mission she wrote Parenting in a Pandemic to help give parents the tools they needed to interpret the news and support their family during the peak of the pandemic. Her new book, Advanced Parenting will be published by Hachette in April 2023, seeks to support parents in navigating their children’s challenges. To learn more about Dr. Fradin and “Advanced Caregiving”, you can visit her Instagram page @ adviceigivemyfriends or visit Resources mentioned in the episode: For more information on Cooper please visit us on instagram @your_cooper and on-line at . If you are interested in joining a Cooper group please click join Cooper, where you'll fill out a brief onboarding to tell us more about yourself, your family and your parenting needs. Enter code 'ParentingUnderstood' at checkout to receive 20% off your Cooper Membership!'
In this episode, we are joined by Lauren Smith-Brody, founder of the Fifth Trimester movement and the author of The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom's Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby. We discuss with Lauren how her work addresses the research and policy around early parenthood, as well as the practical. Lauren speaks about how her work dissects the systems that drive the inequities that make new motherhood, and especially new employed motherhood, so challenging, and her mission to recruit others to speak up about caregivers in their workplace and their needs. Lauren addresses the parallels between infants’ fourth trimester and mothers’ fifth trimester. She further talks about child care, especially in regards to thinking about how one gets comfortable with one’s decision about care, and how decisions are made. We further talk about the roles of ambivalence and agency in parenting. Lauren also speaks about her current work around rights and caregivers in the workforce.  For more information on Lauren please visit: For more information on Chambers of Mothers please visit: For more information on Cooper please visit us on instagram @your_cooper and on-line at . If you are interested in joining a Cooper group please click join Cooper, where you'll fill out a brief onboarding to tell us more about yourself, your family and your parenting needs. Enter code 'ParentingUnderstood' at checkout to receive 20% off your Cooper Membership!'  
In this episode, we welcome back Dr. Meghan McCormick to dive deeper into the topic of pre-kindergarten (pre-k), and its long-term effects on children. Our discussion is centered on  recent research showing contrasting results on the benefits of pre-k education for young children. We delve in depth into how the quality of pre-k programs, and children’s educational experiences subsequent to pre-k, may have a lasting impacts on development. Dr. McCormick shares insights from her extensive research on the subject, and delves into the various factors that contribute to the success of pre-k programs, as well as later educational supports that should be in place to promote the continued benefits of a high quality pre-k experience. Through a deep dive into the latest research studies, this episode provides listeners with a comprehensive understanding of the long-term effects of pre-k on children, and offers actionable insights for those seeking to provide the best possible early education for their children. For more information about Dr. Meghan McCormick please visit or by e-mail at For more information on Cooper please visit us on instagram @your_cooper and on-line at . If you are interested in joining a Cooper group please click join Cooper, where you'll fill out a brief onboarding to tell us more about yourself, your family and your parenting needs. Enter code 'ParentingUnderstood' at checkout to receive 20% off your Cooper Membership!'
In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Gina Green to explore the significance of using scientifically supported interventions to help children with developmental delays. We delve into the issue of people embracing theories, treatments, and programs that have not been properly evaluated, some of which have been claimed to be effective in full cures of things such as autism. We also talk about how parents can navigate the overwhelming amount of parenting information online and focus on key things that are supported by science. Additionally, we provide insights on where parents can find trustworthy scientific-based information.   To learn more about Michelle’s Pocket Parent Membership, please visit   To learn more about the Association for Science and Autism Treatment please visit
We are thrilled to be joined by Dr. Julia Brailovskaia to discuss the benefits of moderating social media usage. We speak about strategies for setting boundaries with children and ourselves to achieve a healthy balance. We also discuss the risks of social media addiction that can arise when usage is not moderated. Julia Brailovskaia currently works at the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center, Ruhr-Universität Bochum. As a member of the "Bochum Optimism and Mental Health (BOOM)" team she investigates risk and protective factors of mental health. Her main research focus is on the relationship between mental health, personality and media use, especially social media addiction.    You can find more about Julia’s research on Google Scholar.
In this episode we are joined by Mike Rucker, an organizational psychologist and author of "The Fun Habit: How the Disciplined Pursuit of Joy and Wonder Can Change Your Life," to discuss the importance of finding joy and wonder in parenting. Mike emphasizes the importance of emotional flexibility and shared control with children to create positive relationships and memories. He suggests that parents should focus on finding enjoyable activities with their children, rather than just scheduling activities out of duty. By doing so, parents can create lasting memories and positive experiences for both themselves and their children. Rucker also shares what inspired him to write his book, and how the disciplined pursuit of joy and wonder can change one's life for the better. This episode offers valuable insights for parents who want to cultivate more fun and joy in their relationships with their children. To learn more about Michelle’s Pocket Parenting Membership, please visit To learn more about Mike Rucker, please visit “The Fun Habit: How the Disciplined Pursuit of Joy and Wonder Can Change Your Life” is available now at booksellers everywhere.
Today we are thrilled to be joined by Maya Corbic, a CPA and financial professional with almost 20 years of experience. Maya discusses with us the importance of teaching children financial literacy and managing your own family finances. Maya speaks about her own background and how she realized the importance of financial education after making preventable financial mistakes. She talks about teaching her own children financial skills, and her development of workshops to support children in learning about money management through her organization the Danarii Financial Education Academy, and a family membership program-the Wealthy Kids Investment Club. We end the episode with key takeaways on how to begin applying financial literacy to your children’s lives. To access the Pocket Parent Membership please visit You can learn more about Maya's at her website
We are thrilled to have Dr. Adithyan Rajaraman as our guest on the latest episode of our podcast. Dr. Rajaraman is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and the Director of Behavior Analysis Research at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. In this episode, we delve into the world of Applied Behavior Analysis and trauma-informed care with a focus on general parenting practices. Dr. Rajaraman's shares valuable insights on fostering healthy connections with our children and promoting essential coping mechanisms. You can learn more about Dr. Rajaraman by visiting his website at and by contacting him on and on Instagram @dithpix To register for the Pocket Parent Membership, please visit    
In this episode, we are excited to be joined by Dr. Jaqueline Nesi. Dr. Nesi is a psychologist, professor, and founder of Techno Sapiens, an up to date resource on research on technology and teenagers. Dr. Nesi discusses with us a recent statement by the U.S. Surgeon General that age 13 and under is too young for children to be on social media, and that there could be dangers related to too much screen time. We also look at the potential role of social media on mental health. Furthermore, we discuss the importance of understanding how scary “headlines” regarding social media research can impact parenting views. Finally, we speak about strategies parents can use to implement social media for the first time in their children’s lives. To learn more about Dr. Jacqueline Nesi, please visit   To subscribe to Techno Sapiens, please visit  
In this episode, we are joined by Drs Marc Brackett and Niobe Way to discuss the importance of human connection for children, teenagers, and adults. We talk about the significance of supportive relationships for healthy social emotional development, and the potential negative effects of a lack of supportive relationships, including violence and self-harm. Further, Marc and Niobe dive into the topic of relational intelligence and ways in which this can be understood and learned. Finally, we discuss how parents can find ways to be the person their children can turn to and how they can go from passing judgment to being curious role models. To learn more about Dr. Marc Brackett please visit: and To learn more about Dr. Niobe Way please visit: and listen to her Ted talk   To learn more about Dr. Way’s research and the movie Close please visit:  
On today’s episode, the two of us discuss a topic that we see coming up more and more, anxiety in young children. We decided to do an episode on anxiety after Michelle’s 3 year old developed a fear of Spiderman at a birthday party. Furthermore, we discuss a common approach "parental accommodation," in which the parent alters the environment to prevent or alleviate the child's fear or anxious feelings. However, this approach can reinforce the child's anxiety or fear response. We hope that after today’s episode you leave with different strategies and techniques to help your children combat fears and anxieties. Check out Michelle's Q&A Membership: 
We are thrilled today to present a unique episode of Parenting Understood! We are speaking with Nicole Stnaley, the founder of Arise Financial Coaching and the creator of the money momentum method. This method has helped hundreds across the globe simplify the way they manage their money to hit their financial goals with ease.  After battling crippling financial anxiety in her early twenties, Nicole decided that enough was enough. She enrolled in her first personal finance course which changed the course of her life. She went from 30K in debt to building my family of four's net worth to over a quarter-million dollars at 27. No inheritance or shortcuts. That growth was about much more than numbers in a bank account. It brought joy, confidence, and freedom into her life.Nicole speaks with us about her journey as it relates to finances and motherhood. We also discuss strategies with her related to becoming “financially free”. Studies mentioned in today’s episode:   You can find more about Nicole by following or by visiting  
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