Shelf-Awareness Book Review: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?: Stop Fighting, Start Talking, and Get to Know Your Teen

[Note: I write short book reviews for Shelf Awareness, a great website and newsletter book review service. I’ll be posting the reviews that don’t run in their newsletter, with their permission. The reviews I write are for the “Readers” edition of the newsletter.]

Book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?: Stop Fighting, Start Talking, and Get to Know Your Teen by Vanessa Van Petten (Penguin Group, $15.00 Paperback, 9780452297418, August 30,

Vanessa Van Petten has written two other self-published books and is the founder of She’s made a name for herself as a sort of translator between teens/tweens and their parents, helping both sides learn valuable coping skills, communication tools, and how to navigate the modern teenage world.

The current book focuses on two major sections that offer strategies for parents to work with their children: Build The Relationship and Learn About Their Life. Written to parents about teen life, struggles, and perspectives, Do I Get My Allowance uses many specific case studies from Van Petten’s personal work with families, talking about facial cues, social communication techniques and technology with a confident and relaxed style. Her own voice is strong in this book, talking to parents directly and caringly about how to both provide the limits teens and tweens still need and crave while learning to let them be themselves and find their own way in an often confusing and fast- paced world.

At times, Van Petten’s analysis seems more armchair psychologist than it should be, though there are many references to specific research studies peppered throughout. The chapters on Online Bullying and High Risk Activities are particularly good, giving parents a new way to look at the specific phenomena and how they might best support children who are dealing with them. Overall, the book offers a positive middle of the road approach for parents who may not quite have a handle on the latest technology or challenges in their teenager’s life, offering sound experiential advice and insightful commentary drawn from the author’s own professional work.

–Rob LeFebvre, Freelance Writer & Editor

Discover: A confident primer on supporting your teen through this modern world by getting to know them, with examples and a caring perspective throughout.

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