Recent research by a team of psychologists led by Dr Kristin Heffernan has found that mother certainly doesn’t think she knows best. Present day mothers apparently trust “expert” medical advice more than their own instincts. They might be comforted to read what Levitt & Dubner say in Freakonomics about what makes the perfect parent (see the Freakonomics blog ). They examine a range of data and research which seems to suggest that it doesn’t much matter what parents do unless what they do is very bad. In other words averagely good parents don’t seem to accomplish much for their children so we might as well stop worrying about what the experts think. They do look at what factors have strong correlation to school test scores ie are found to be true at the same time as high or low test scores. High test scores are correlated with: the child having highly educated parents, the child’s parents having a high socio-economic status, the child’s mother being over 30 when the child was born, the child having English speaking parents, the child’s parents being involved in the PTA and the child having many books in the home. Low test scores are correlated with the child having a low birthweight and the child being adopted. Factors which seem to make no difference at all are: the child’s family being separated, the child’s parents moving to a better area, the child’s mother being at home in the early years, the child being taken to museums, the child being spanked, the child watching a lot of television and the child’s parents reading to him nearly every day. So you can stop feeling guilty that you plonk your child in front of the teletubbies for a bit of peace and quiet and that you never actually get around to taking them to the V & A because you would rather watch the Simpsons.