A Review of Vanessa Van Petten’s New Book, Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?

By Susan Frasca

It’s not very often that parents welcome advice from someone who isn’t a parent, but this extraordinary 25-year-old woman is young enough to recall and relate to the mentality of teens and old enough to respect the parents that raise them.

Sensitive and savvy to the issues between teens and parents since she was sixteen, Van Petten is billed as a “youthologist” and is the founder of a website/blog dedicated to helping parents better understand and relate to their teens. Radicalparenting.com consists of stories, advice and information written solely by teenagers. Talk about going directly to the source for the inside scoop on how to relate to your teen! Parents flocked to this site, which won the Mom’s Choice Award in 2009, and since then, Van Petten has appeared on major network shows, including ABC News, and CBS News, CNN and the Today Show, as well as in columns in numerous publications.

In Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded? Van Petten uses real-life stories of teens and their families to address a variety of issues. She encourages and explains how parents can develop real communication as opposed to entering into combat during conversations with their kids.

She gives great insight into the relationships and the issues that are so important to teens today, taking on topics such as bullying, friends with benefits and risky behaviors. She takes no sides either, at one point, detailing the value of giving teens a later curfew and at another point, sharing her knowledge for how to detect when a teen is lying.

Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice Van Petten gives is suggesting that parents give the most attention to the advice she gives that makes them uncomfortable. “What brings us out of our comfort zone is what ignites the most change.”  When parents are willing to change their approach to a problem, it shows a strong commitment to resolving the problem.  We all know that doing the same thing, the same way, over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Being the parent of a teen doesn’t have to make you insane.

The bottom line is to stop fighting, start talking and get to know your teen — which is also the subtitle of this book.


While raising her two children, Susan Frasca worked as a writer and editorial assistant for an award-winning parenting magazine, and quickly discovered that researching and writing about parenting issues is far easier than actually doing the parenting!  Married once and still to the best man she’s ever known, and with those children now grown adults, she writes on a variety of topics and has scores of bylines in multiple publications, as well as many other articles, blogs and books for which she can’t take credit – the downside of ghostwriting!



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