Best Parenting Books of 2014?

Do you avoid parenting books? Do you devour them? In either case, here are some books worth reading that aren't the typical "how to parent" fodder. These thought-provoking selections question what we know about brain science, adolescence, child vaccinations, anxiety and postpartum depression among other topics. No potty training or self-esteem building tips included.

Remember the Parenting Expert Who...

Parenting advice of the past seems so absurd. Don't kiss your baby. Don't touch your baby. Don't let kids run too much. As entertaining as the recommendations and worries of yesteryear might be, it's hard not to wonder what our children and grandchildren will find silly years from now.

Top 10 Most, Best, Popular Parenting News of 2013

Now that the kids are back in school and the holidays forgotten, parents might have time to think about the most important things they discovered in the media about kids or parenting. What did you learn over the past 12 months? Anything stand out? Chances are you probably can recall a dramatic study or two. I know I can.

Screen Time Gets a Time Out, Again

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a new media policy advising parents on how to deal with all the screens in their households. Don't put down your smart phone just yet, you might want to read some finer details before the kids get home this afternoon.

Messy Desks and Creativity: The Media Makes a Mess

Cleanliness might be next to godliness but don't discount the perks of clutter just yet. New research suggests a mess might not be so terrible after all. The bad news, the media made a mess of it.

Paying Attention to Inattention

Minority children are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their white peers, a gap that persists at least from kindergarten until eighth grade according to a new national study. How do experts explain this disparity in diagnoses? It's a bit more complicated than the media reports suggests.

Caution: Parenting Experts Ahead

Parenting experts and their advice are everywhere. This mass of information reaches parents from books, television, radio and now, the Internet. So before the next study or claim strikes the media, I'd like to give parents some advice about the advice they'll soon encounter.

The Power of Talking to Kids: The Talk and The Evidence

Parents should talk to their kids, a lot. Duh. It seems sensible that talking to babies and young children is crucial for their proper development. But have we gone too far in thinking the mere amount of words kids hear from mom or dad makes all the difference?

Can Sesame Street Create Kinder Kids?

Parents can't help but encounter regular reminders about the perils of television, especially the ill effects of programming that isn't exactly educational. In my house I limit screen time of every sort every day but still I can't help but question yet another study claiming to show how television harms my family.

Fooled by Nonsense Math?

Math anxiety. Math illiteracy. Kumon. It's no secret that math poses challenges for adults and children. There's reason to suspect professionals also need more help understanding numbers and statistics.

Best Parenting Books of 2012

Tired of the usual parenting book about how to get your kids to eat broccoli or get into college? Tired of the bad mommy memoir? The touchy-feeley self-help manual? As a psychologist and mother I found inspiration and solace in a number of books this past year that didn't always pop up on the best-seller list or even the parenting aisle.

Some Advice for the Parenting Experts

The parenting media is rife with experts and advice. The pediatrician, the educational consultant, the breast-feeding researcher and so many others make a living telling parents how to make kids healthier, safer or smarter. So often we take their advice but maybe it's time parents should be giving them advice.

Profile of a Rampage Killer

We crave answers in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre. Guns, video games and mental illness have all been targeted as explanations for the school shootings. The research literature offers answers but they might surprise you.

Breast Is Best: Hello, Are You There Psychology?

Everyone knows about the many health benefits of breastfeeding. Usually we read or hear about the importance of breastfeeding from pediatricians, government officials and other assorted health authorities. Sometimes it comes from lactation specialists, celebrities and mommy bloggers but rarely have psychologists weighed in.

When Not Watching TV Can Be Hazardous

All parents know well the litany of dangers associated with watching television. Get ready for new warnings about harmful effects even when the kids aren't actually watching it. In other words, the set is on but the kids aren't tuned in.

I Spy a Suspicious Pregnancy Expert

Surprise, there's another "expert" telling pregnant women what to do or not do. As if they need any more advice, especially flawed or simplistic advice from organizations better known for rating the suctioning power of vacuum cleaners.

Got Good Parenting? It's Not Just about Breast Milk or Extracurricular Schedules

Know a good parent? Think of the mom or dad with the children you'd welcome into your home any time with or without a chaperon or a runny nose. What makes this person so good with kids? It has almost nothing to do with how much time they spend painting backdrops for the school play or how much breast milk their kid sucked down.

Forget the Test Prep, the Kumon and Possible Toxins: Teach Your Children Well

Psychologist Madeline Levine says parents have lost their minds prodding their kids to achieve better grades, better test scores and ultimately better college applications. In her new book "Teach Your Children Well" she takes on the culture of hyper achievement-oriented parenting and suggests we should focus on other valuable skills beyond getting into a good college.

Bullies on the Bus?

Once again bullying has been in the news, this time a grandmother sitting on a bus with a bunch of middle-school boys taunting her. With the public donations rolling in, the boys sent to bad boy school and the media teeming with reports of a bullying epidemic, it's worth asking if this was in fact a case of bullying.

The Boobie Trap: Breastfeeding Goals Gone Sour

About two-thirds of new mothers aren't meeting their own breast-feeding goals. Is this a critical public health problem? Should public health officials lament the latest breastfeeding survey?

The Bogus Boomerang Generation

Media reports claim 85 percent of college graduates will be "boomeranging" back home. Faced with steep student loans and a 50 percent unemployment rate, they (and their parents) have plenty of reasons to worry. Will they be sweating it out in mom's basement or is there reason to doubt the startling statistic?

Playdate with Puberty:The Evidence Behind Early Puberty

Girls sprouting breasts in first grade, periods in third grade. The media routinely declares girls start puberty earlier than ever. Ask your pediatrician, friends, the school nurse, they probably agree, mine all do. Earlier puberty now seems to be a fact. But what about the evidence?

Placenta Stew with a Side of Pseudo-Science

Women are eating placentas to avoid postpartum depression. Not malnourished women in some remote third-world tribal village but here in the United States, Prozac Nation, the land of plentiful and well-documented treatments for depression that don’t involve steaming and stewing one’s bodily organs. Is there any scientific evidence behind this bizarre gastronomic practice?

Now I Lay Me Down to Breathe: ADHD and Snoring

Babies and toddlers who snore are more at risk of hyperactivity and aggression. The cozy and complicated link between disrupted sleep and disruptive behavior is no secret to those working in the mental health field. As parents and teachers know, a single late night spell trouble. Still, does snoring and mouth-breathing trigger ADHD?

Ritalin Results Gone Wrong

A retired psychologist stirred controversy claiming medications for attention deficits don't have long-term benefits. Some responded by praising the drugs, some denouncing them. Parents told how the drugs saved their kids. Psychologists spoke of the needs of the individual child. Hardly anyone mentioned empirical evidence.

Occupying the Toy Aisle One Pink Lego at a Time

A drama has settled over Lego's new Heartlake City, a pink and purple village with girly figures sporting hearts and butterfies. The feminized, pre-assembled play sets that include a beauty shop, bakery and stage have been accused of promoting gender roles, sexualizing girls and stunting spatial abilities. Are toys marketed towards girls really so harmful?