Sue Scheff: Radical Parenting, Parenting From a New Perspective

Vanessa Van Petten has been such an inspiration to so many people and many parents! As a young adult she has given us the inside scoop on our teens and the way they are wired today! Her first fantastic book, You’re Grounded, How to Stop Fighting and Make the Teenage Years Easier, was written when she was 17 years old - helping parents see life through a teens eyes. Vanessa Van Petten is one of the nation’s youngest experts on parenting and youth. Her new website - Radical Parenting is becoming very busy!

Here is one of her most recent articles and I am confident many parents will enjoy reading it.


Last week I went over to a client’s house and was working with her on the time management lesson of my program. We were looking at her school planner and slotting in her homework and project schedule. I noticed that for Tuesday night she had highlighted, added stickers and highlighter smiley faces.

“Is it your birthday?” I asked.
“No, it’s the night of the 8th grade parent meeting at school!” She replied.
“Um, you get that excited for a parent meeting?” I questioned.
“Silly, we love parents night because the entire 8th grade can get online and watch videos and hang-out together, we have to make sure I get my homework done on Monday night!”

I am sure, that High School’s parents have no idea that the whole grade not only looks forward to parent meetings like birthday celebrations, but also that they class is bonding and throwing an online party in their respective homes across the city. (She let me blog about this, as long as I keep my promise not to share the school’s name.)

I think, this is a good thing actually:

-It makes them get homework done early

-It helps them bond with each other

-They are all at home, their really rebellious move is to video chat with, gasp, more than two people at once while mom and dad are out.

-The online environment has allowed for an outside of school recess. (I have many posts about how technology has blurred the lines between home, school and social life and this can be a very negative thing, so I want to have at least one article where it is good!)

-They encourage their parents to be involved. Because everyone wants to be able to go to the online party, kids are now encouraging their parents more than ever to join those committees, and attend meetings to stay informed…hey the schools need all of the help they can get!

I asked my teen advisory council and interns what they do when their parents are out, here are some of the answers, listed in order of popularity (there was a very long tail on this one of some very random activities–some of which I chose to include, some of which I left out).

1) YouTube Videos

2) Talk on the phone

3) Text

4) Raid the kitchen

5) Go on AIM/Skype/iChat

6) iTunes and/or listen to music

7) Watch TV/Movies

Invite friends/boyfriend/girlfriend over

9) Play video games

10) Masturbate

11) Prank phone calls

12) Go out

13) Look through parents room/desk/siblings room

14) The same thing I do when they are home

15) Homework

As you can see, it varies. A lot of the time, you can just ask them and they will tell you. Or show them this post and see if they find any of the answers surprising.

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