Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting

Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting

Raising kids can be a bumpy, stressful, and uncertain process – which is why Dr. Lisa Damour is here to help. The author of bestsellers Untangled, Under Pressure, and The Emotional Lives of Teenagers brings her sane, informed, and practical perspective to your timely and timeless parenting questions. Co-host and journalist Reena Ninan, a former White House and foreign correspondent, gets the answers parents need. In each episode, Dr. Lisa and Reena blend expert knowledge with their experience and struggles as parents themselves to tackle real-life questions sent in by listeners.

Episodes

April 16, 2024 32 mins
How do you respond when your child is being bullied? A concerned parent writes in about her 12-year-old daughter who is being taunted by three older boys on the school bus. Dr. Lisa unpacks the dynamics of bullying and answers several key questions: What’s the difference between conflict and bullying? Why do kids bully? What is the impact of being bullied? How and when should adults step in? The conversation addresses the step-by-s...
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A parent writes in about her 17-year-old son who is reeling from a tough breakup with his long-time girlfriend. As the teen faces the transition to college and grapples with intense sadness his parents have several questions: Should they be concerned about his reaction? How can they support him, especially when he shuts them out? And must high school sweethearts part ways before college? Dr. Lisa describes the many ways that adults...
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Dr. Lisa and Reena respond to a letter from a parent who feels uneasy about her ten-year-old’s sudden interest in expensive skin care products. The parent finds herself stuck between two bad options: buying her daughter products that are costly and unnecessary, or being at odds with her daughter because she refuses to do so. Dr. Lisa and Reena unpack the many forces that come together - some new, some age-old - to drive the current...
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It’s not always comfortable to talk with our kids about pornography - but it’s something all parents need to do. Indeed, research shows that 12 is the average age at which kids first encounter pornography, and that by age 18, 79% of teens have been exposed to violent porn. Dr. Lisa and Reena address how it is that so many kids end up seeing pornography and the harms associated with viewing it. They also provide clear, actionable gu...
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Illicit fentanyl has contaminated the drug landscape and is causing record deaths among young people. How should parents talk with their teens about this fast-moving crisis? What can we say to help keep our kids safe? In this critically important episode, Dr. Lisa and Reena are joined by Ed Ternan and Marcia Lee Taylor of Song for Charlie, a national non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of fentanyl. Ed, who t...
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A concerned parent seeks Dr. Lisa's guidance on building and maintaining a connection with her teenage son. Despite efforts to spend quality time together, most family activities are met with resistance. The parent wonders if it’s normal for her 15-year-old son and, more recently, her 11-year-old daughter, to hold their parents at a distance. Dr. Lisa and Reena explore the challenges of enforcing family time and suggest alternativ...
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A devoted parent seeks advice on whether her 15-year-old daughter should be on birth control. Despite having open discussions about many topics, the daughter - who is in a long-term and intense heterosexual relationship - refuses to discuss contraception. Dr. Lisa weighs in on how to talk with teens about readiness for physical intimacy, and how to get teens to be open to awkward, (but necessary) conversations about their developin...
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When should parents be concerned about a teen who resists making social plans and chooses to hang out at home instead? A parent writes asking if she should be worried about her introverted son. He excels academically, has a job, and exercises regularly, But he chooses to spend weekends at home playing on his phone or working on his computer. While he has friends, he rarely initiates plans with them and makes up excuses for not join...
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February 20, 2024 36 mins
Can we boost our sense of happiness and overall well-being? Why do some individuals not only survive - but thrive - in the face of life's challenges? Dr. Sue Varma, a psychiatrist and cognitive behavioral therapist joins us on the publication day of her new book, Practical Optimism: The Art, Science, and Practice of Exceptional Well-Being to answer these questions and more. The conversation explores Dr. Varma's 4 Ms of mental healt...
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There’s a growing concern shared by many adults: How do we help teenagers make sense of mental health misinformation on social media? Dr. Lisa and Reena respond to a letter from a parent worried that content on TikTok has led her teenage daughter to diagnose herself with OCD and ADHD. This episode explores the potential benefits and risks of learning about mental health through social media, how self-diagnosing can - at times - be ...
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An incredibly thoughtful question from a 14-year-old in the United Kingdom helps us look at the complexities of teen friendships. The letter writer asks about the challenge of wanting to distance from a friend without being unkind. Should teenagers be encouraged to have candid conversations with friends about their feelings, or is there a more nuanced approach that minimizes hurt feelings? How do we teach kids to be compassionate w...
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A mom writes in concerned about the fact that her 13-year-old son has developed an interest in bulking up. Though he's an active kid, he sees himself as "scrawny" and has decided to hit the weight room hard. When does a healthy interest in getting fit and building strength verge into unhealthy territory? Dr. Lisa and Reena answer this question and more as they dive into the research on boys and body obsession, consider differences ...
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Special guest Dr. Aliza Pressman, developmental psychologist and podcast host, discusses her new book, "The Five Principles of Parenting," with Dr. Lisa and Reena. Dr. Pressman introduces five key components of helping children thrive: Relationship, Reflection, Regulation, Rules, and Repair. While there is no such thing as a perfect approach to parenting, Dr. Pressman explains why giving thought to one’s personal values can help yo...
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It’s never easy to decide to end a marriage. Parents want to protect their kids as the divorce process unfolds and want to help them navigate changing family dynamics. Dr. Lisa discusses how kids process divorce at different ages and the importance of helping your children feel secure and loved while shielding them from conflict. Dr. Lisa and Reena also address how to help kids understand that the break up was not their fault.  Fo...
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January 9, 2024 29 mins
Parents often find themselves caught between frightening headlines about the dangers of social media and kids who want access to it. Dr. Lisa and Reena address a letter from a parent of three - ages 9, 12, and 14 - asking for guidance. Drawing on research findings and clinical experience, this episode covers when to consider allowing social media, sensible rules for responsible use, the role of gender, and how to minimize social me...
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January 2, 2024 31 mins
Happy New Year! As we turn to making New Year’s resolutions, Dr. Lisa would like us to approach 2024 in a fresh way: instead of trying to “optimize” ourselves by making the most of every minute, she suggests that we focus on restoration. Why? Because the inevitable stress of daily life can actually help us grow if we get serious about how we recover. Dr. Lisa and Reena dive into why we need to prioritize restoration, how restoratio...
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Why are tweens and teens sometimes so cruel to their younger siblings? This is a common dynamic in family life, and one that can get worse over the holidays when siblings spend a lot of time together. Dr. Lisa takes us inside the adolescent brain and explains how the onset of puberty can make it hard for kids to control their emotions. She and Reena also address the place of gendered dynamics in sibling interactions, how not to sha...
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December 19, 2023 29 mins
What can parents try when we can’t get our kids to do what we ask? Dr. Lisa and Reena unpack how to motivate kids without nagging or yelling and discuss when bribery might be an effective strategy to consider. Their conversation also answers several key questions: How do you respond to a kid who reflexively says “no” to everything you suggest? Is it okay to bribe kids to improve their grades? What other incentives really work and w...
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When a teen tells us about a peer’s risky behavior, what’s the right thing to do? Should we keep our teen’s confidence, or should we alert the parents of the kid we are worried about? Dr. Lisa and Reena tackle a letter from a parent who has built a strong sense of trust with her teens and often hears about dangerous behavior - including substance use and worrisome sexual activity - happening in their peer group. Dr. Lisa offers her...
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Getting a lot of attention from girls might not seem like a problem. But a mother writes in asking Dr. Lisa for advice on how to deal with the fact that girls are fawning over her son who wants no part of it. He feels embarrassed by the attention and finds that ignoring it only seems to be making the situation worse. The boy’s father worries that his son might develop a reputation for being the “mean kid” for not acknowledging or r...
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