About Us

The Science of Parenting blog shares and discusses research based information and resources to help parents in their important role of raising children.

In weekly blog posts, ISU specialists share their experiences, thoughts and observations about parenting and how they relate to current research. Join in the conversation and tell us more about how you handle your parenting responsibilities and any thoughts or experiences you have on the topic!

Get to know our bloggers from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach


Lori Hayungs, Family Life Extension Specialist |  Mother of 3

Lori HayungsMy girls tell me “Don’t use that Temperament mumbo jumbo on me!”  but I do and it WORKS! I have been involved in guidance and discipline of children for the last 18 years. Fourteen of them with my own three girls.

I have a passion for helping adults realize how cool kids are – even through the attitudes, the tantrums and the talk-back. Helping figure out ‘why’ kids do what they do and say what they say is one of life’s Great Adventures!


Janet Smith, Family Life Extension Specialist | Mother of 3

Janet SmithI’m still learning—even after 27 years in the field of human sciences and three almost adult children. I prefer to be called an aspiring “parenting expert in training”. The Science of Parenting Blog is the best reason I know to learn and share new ideas, strategies and solution for nurturing our families. I am almost a parenting survivor—with one teenage son at  home, a  20 year-old college daughter, and 21 year-old son with physical challenges who spends time at a farm store work site and oversees our Golden Retriever, Penny. We are NOT a perfect family, but my husband and I have tried to work together, have fun, pray, communicate and spend time together–all because we are committed to each other and our family.


Donna Donald, Extension Specialist |  Mother of 3, Grandmother of 7

Donna Donald
True Story – My grandson said he wasn’t going to argue with me about a request because “I was hard core; I had a tattoo.” At the time I laughed and thought whatever works (he’s a teenager)! Perhaps that attitude comes from helping raise three daughters. I also earned my grandmother badge with seven young people, ages 12-22. The personal life experiences are my reality check to 35+ years as a family life educator. I look forward to sharing ideas with you via the SoP blog.


In past podcasts, Iowa State University scientist Douglas Gentile and “parent on the street” Mike Murray deliver an entertaining discussion of tested, research-based parenting advice from experts across the country. Each episode is like an owner’s manual for raising children, covering hot topics in parenting, the latest research, and advice that are easy to understand. And Doug and Mike promise it won’t be boring.

About Dr. Gentile …

Doug Gentile I have been lucky enough to have many parenting experiences – I am the parent of a teenager and a tween, I was a single parent for five years, and I have a “blended” family.  Professionally, I am a developmental psychologist who studies children of all ages. My research is particularly focused on how mass media has both positive and negative effects on children and families. Studies show that 99% of parents don’t read the studies (yes, I just made that up), which is why it is so important to provide parents and educators with the best research-based information that they can really use.



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  1. I didn’t know exactly where to place this note, but I suppose this will do. I just had to stop by and thank you for putting on your podcast. It has been enlightening and helpful in a number of areas.

    I’d also like to request a topic for discussion that I’ve been struggling with. Religion. How does its influence affect children at different stages? Is it right to present a belief system to a child who will pretty much believe anything you tell them anyway? Should parents wait to introduce the concept until their children’s minds aren’t so pliable? Or are there benefits to invoking a “blind belief” approach? Or does that inhibit scientific learning which seems to rely on questioning everything?

    I don’t recall the topic coming up in the podcasts I’ve heard, and just by that religion seems to be a non-issue. That is, I’ve not heard God invoked as an argument for bettering our parenting skills. Is that a correct assessment? Do children progress differently under different systems, such as those which differ by literal and figurative interpretations of religious texts or those lacking a specific texts? Perhaps the authoritarian/authoritative distinction covered in one podcast has some application here. Maybe there’s some connection to how parents help children with questions that people just don’t have certain answers to.

    Of course, it’s your show, and you should discuss what you know or feel comfortable with, but I’d love to hear your take on this.

  2. Todd – thank you for the topic suggestion. We have a long list of ideas so stay with us. And please add your thoughts often. That’s what makes a blog interesting.

  3. Is there any association (or post) connecting this blog with the book called The Science of Parenting? I would love to see that addressed. Thanks!

  4. Do you have the author of the book? We are not associated with it but utilize research based sources from .edu and research organizations. Thanks for your question.

  5. I am looking for a speaker to come to an Ames elementary school during red ribbon week (Oct. 27-31) to discuss the many reasons to be drug free. A google search lead me to your blog. Would any of the three of you be in the area and interested in speaking to elementary students?