Inside The Minds of Teens

September 18, 2011 · Print This Article

By Vanessa Van Petten, creator of a parenting website written from the teen perspective to help parents understand them. She is plus the author of the parenting book, Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?


When I was 16 I thought it was my Dad’s goal in life to assemble me miserable. I was convinced that he had a running list of all the ways he could embarrass me in front of my friends, trick me into doing more chores or build my curfew earlier.


Our relationship would have continued to devolve until one day I saw my Dad reading a parenting book. I flipped through it while my Dad was in the bathroom and realized a lot of the things he did that drove me crazy he was getting right out of that book! I looked at the other parenting books on our shelves and realized that they were all written by adults. I wondered—has anyone ever asked teens to write to their parents?




I decided to build a website where teens could reply questions and write to parents called I couldn’t believe how quickly it grew and how happy both teens were to get their voices out and parents were to have a new outlet for connecting with their kids! We now have by 120 teen writers who give advice.


Teenagers, when given a neutral space LOVE talking to parents and often offer some of the best insight considering they are going through it themselves. We have additionally be so excited to help parents who feel like they cannot reach their kids and teens.


I think teens and parents can work together to overcome their differences and learn to work best together. We have just come out with our book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded and it is a radical approach to parenting considering it is written from the kid’s perspective! We would love for you to check it out—if you are courageous suitable to see what kids have to say!


What is that book about?

So, you have to forget the old parenting book approach – that book gives parents a totally new way to

reach their teenagers considering it’s the only book that tweens and teens helped write – so we are hearing first-hand advice that actually works! It gets right to the heart of the problems and offers straightforward prescriptive – and effective advice. that is a very different approach to parenting that tackles these contemporary problems.

What makes that book different?

Before now there has only been resources written from one side of the family equation….the adults. that is the first book that gets both sides talking. What’s more, the book goes a step further by using techniques that human lie-dectectors use: What does a teenager’s face look like when they are lying? What questions do parents need to ask to get the truth?


You are not a parent, what experience helps you write that book?

Actually me not being a parent is what makes teenagers feel comfortable opening up to me about what they really need from their parents. It allows me to be a translator for what parents need, what teens need and next bringing the two together so they can be on the same side.


You are not a doctor, what experience helps you write that book?

There are already amazing resources out there from doctors and psychologists, we take a very different approach to parenting. We believe that for most families there are really simple miscommunications happening that we just need to decode. With that book, I teach parents what kids really mean when they say, “I don’t care” or “Can I have a later curfew.” that is advice from teens in the trenches of family life.


Vanessa Van Petten is one of the nation’s youngest experts, or ‘youthologists’ on parenting and adolescents. She now runs her popular parenting website,, which she writes with 120 other teenage writers to reply questions from parents and adults. Her approach has been featured by CNN, Fox News, and Wall Street Journal. She was plus on the Real Housewives of Orange County helping the housewives with troubled teens. Her next book, “Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?” is being released in September 2011 with Plume Books of Penguin USA.



[Source] Jenn


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