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Professor, researcher, and author John Sommers-Flanagan, Ph.D., teams up with parenting, child, and intimate relationship expert Sara Polanchek, Ed.D., to bring you the Practically Perfect Parenting Podcast. Children do not come with instruction manuals, and this bi-weekly podcast tackles some of the biggest issues parents face, with humor and wit. Brought to you by The Charles Engelhard Foundation, and the National Parenting Education Network, this podcast pairs cutting edge research  and proven technique, to help make you a practically perfect parent.


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Mar 20, 2017
When Teens Talk Back
In this episode, Dr. Sara decides to consult with Dr. John about her hypothetical “friend’s” teenage and pre-teen boys, who coincidently, happen to be the same ages as Sara’s own children. Other than being a disastrously bad consultant, John ends up complaining about how disrespectful our culture is toward teens. This leads Sara and John to affirm that, instead of lowering the expectation bar for teens, we should re-focus on what’s great about teenage brains. Overall, this turns out to be a celebration of all the great things about teenagers . . . along with a set of guidelines to help parents be positive and firm. Specific techniques discussed include limit-setting, do-overs, methods for helping teenagers calm down, role modeling, and natural, but small consequences. This podcast is brought to you by the Charles Engelhard Foundation, and the National Parenting Education Network
Resources mentioned in the Podcast:
Positive Discipline for Teenagers
By Jane Nelsen & Lynn Lott
Mar 6, 2017

Let's Do The Sex Talk Again

Would you rather have your child learn about sex from Fergus, the unsupervised kid down the street . . . or from internet pornography . . . or from YOU? We hope you can see that the answer to that question is obvious. In this episode, Dr. Sara encourages you to become an “askable parent” and to get comfortable shouting out the words “vagina” and “penis,” instead of avoiding the topic. She also shares the clever line: If you’ve got a protective cover on your phone, you should have a condom on your penis. Although it’s important for parents to get comfortable talking about sex, comfort doesn’t happen automatically; at the very least, it takes courage, self-reflection, and practice. In the end, we share resources that might be of interest to parents who are more traditional or more progressive . . . and we wish you luck with this big parenting challenge.

This podcast is brought to you by the Charles Engelhard Foundation, and the National Parenting Education Network


Resources featured in this Episode:


  • What’s Happening to Me: A Guide to Puberty

          By: Peter Mayle

  • How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It's Best to Start Early, but It's Never Too Late

          By: Linda & Richard Eyre

  • It's Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends

          By: Robie H. Harris

Feb 20, 2017

The American expectation is that pregnant women and new moms will be happy and fulfilled. But the reality is that approximately 20% of pregnant women are diagnosed with depression during pregnancy. So what happens when pregnancy and childbirth bring along the storm clouds of depression?  In this Practically Perfect Parenting Podcast episode you’ll learn more about post-partum depression and hear writer and founder of Postpartum Support International, Jane Honikman share a universal message to families. You’ll also understand why now is always a good time to support pregnant women and mothers. This podcast is brought to you by The Charles Engelhard Foundation, and The National Parenting Education Network.

Resources mentioned in this podcast can be found at:

John Sommers-Flanagan's Blog

Postpartum Support International


Feb 6, 2017

Getting a divorce isn’t part of the fairy tale family story. No one who gets romantically connected and has children plans on getting divorced. In this PPPP episode, Dr. John and Dr. Sara discuss the divorced children’s bill of rights. In the process, they provide information to help parents make positive family adjustments to a divorce and shared parenting situation. If you want to hear John’s “Stupid-Ass Parenting Class” story, Sara’s rules on post-divorce dating, and the polarized parenting syndrome, you should listen to this episode. This podcast is brought to you by the National Parenting Education Network, and the Charles Engelhard Foundation. 

Jan 23, 2017

In this Practically Perfect Parenting Podcast, Dr. Sara starts off by spoiling the romantic hopes and dreams of everyone—including Dr. John. Instead of embracing fairy tale relationship patterns that include love, sex, babies, and happiness, Sara offers a rather depressing list of reasons why having children tends to decrease relationship satisfaction. Fortunately, later in the show she also provides a list of excellent ideas and solutions that should give us all hope for the happily ever after ending. John’s role in this episode mostly involves him scratching his head and asking Sara what the heck she means by “cyber-flirting,” “soft start-ups,” and “magic ratios,” while, at the same time, expressing relief, because on a podcast, no one can see him blush. This podcast is brought to you by the Charles Engelhard Foundation, and the National Parenting Education Network

Jan 9, 2017

Step-parenting is like walking a tightrope. You don’t want to be in the biological parent’s shadow, but, at the same time, you know if you try taking over as mother or father, you’re rocking a family boat that’s already unstable. Also, you want to be loved and respected, but you know love and respect don’t happen instantly. In this podcast, Dr. Sara and Dr. John talk about four big step-parenting challenges and offer tips and resources to help make it so step-parents don’t fall off their parenting tightrope.   

This podcast is brought to you by the National Parenting Education Network, and the Charles Engelhard Foundation.