Roommate or Child: 5 Steps When Your Kid Moves Home

Child or Roommate?

So it started when your kid friended you on Facebook.  You wondered, are they my friend or my child?  Now, the economy is bad, they lost their job or are trying to save up after college and before grad school (if they ever get there) and again, you are wondering, are they my roommate or my child?

The economy is getting worse and many young people are either getting more roommates or moving back home.  This is a very tough transition.  Most people feel bad for the kids:

“Oh, that sucks so bad! Do you have a curfew again?”
“Do they nag you like all the time? That blows!”

But, I feel worse for the parents, here is why:

-Kids usually have a choice, parents almost have to say yes to their kids moving home.  Isn’t it like obligatory to accept your jobless, wandering kid in a recession?
-Kids get laundry done, free food, hot meals, and possible snacks.  Parents get more laundry, another mouth to feed and more glasses to wash.
-It’s free for kids, parents are suffering in the down economy too, their grocery bill goes up a lot when a kid moves home.
-Parents know have to readjust their empty nester lifestyle back to having kiddies again…no more remote hogging for you!

What can parents do when their kids move home? It doesn’t have to be all bad.

Here are some sanity saving tips:

1) Set the Boundaries Early

Before the habits come up and to avoid an awkward conversation later about having significant others spend the night, have your boundary conversation right away.

2) Be Clear: It’s Not All Candyland

If your child is over the age of 18, moving home should not be a vacation.  Now, if your child is home on their summer vacation from college, they do get some leeway, but make sure they understand they should be doing something productive with their time if you need that.

3) Have Them Chip In Enough To Make Them Appreciate You

I think a lot of ungrateful twenty-somethings move home and feel like it is better than high school.  No curfew and no chores! I think that chores should change as a child gets older, but make sure that they are chipping in with laundry or car washes.  You also might want to consider having them work for their roof.  I do not recommend having them pay rent (let them save it!) but you could have them file papers, do house or yardwork for their upkeep.

4) You Do Not Have to Be a Roommate (or Butler or Chef)

So many moms love to cook for their kids.  This is wonderful, but make sure you are not being taken advantage of or under appreciated.  They need to understand that they should pick up after themselves, do some grocery shopping and perhaps take a dinner meal per week.  If you let them live like a teen you are doing them a disservice for their future real life roommates because they will be spoiled and messy!

5) Bring Back What You Like

Having your kid home can be great!  Bring back the stuff you like.  Board game night, family movies and breakfast together.  If you are kid is home, soak up every second, soon they might be far away!

If your child is home from the economy or just from college, set clear boundaries and enjoy them being there! If they are home and you want them out of your home, check out my post on helping teens with their job searches!

This Week’s Sponsor:

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FAQ Teen Pot Culture

This article has been deemed Radical by our teen team.  Check out the rest of our Radical Articles if you like this one!

Where do Kids Learn About Pot?
From their friends mostly. But there are a lot of online communities and websites that dedicate themselves to educating people about marijuana and pot culture. Some of these sites answer questions like:
How do I find a dealer in my area?
How do I get Marijuana smell out of my clothes?
How do I grow pot?

And some even have diagrams that show how to roll joints.

How Much Does pot cost?
This greatly depends on where you are and the quality of the pot, but the general rule of thumb is:
Joint = $5
Gram = $15
1/8th = $35

Feel free to comment if you think this is different.

When do kids first get exposed to pot?
Earlier than you would think. Usually kids start to hear about other kids doing pot when other students have older siblings or older friends. I always knew about ‘those’ kids that were doing it when I was in 7th and 8th grade and at the start of High School, but was not exposed to it often. By 9th and 10th grade, my friends and I began to see it more frequently at parties, kickbacks and even at after-school hangouts.

Do they know the health effects of pot?
Health classes do let kids know the health, legal and even financial consequences of pot.

Do students smoke pot more frequently in college?
I think yes. I think pot is more common in college because it is easier to get, easier to smoke without parents waiting at home and it is very common. Of course, this is not true for everyone, but many kids begin to smoke in college.

If I know my kid has been drinking alcohol, does that mean they are also smoking pot?
NO, of course not! There are no generalizations like that. Here is a post about pot and alcohol: Pot vs Alcohol: What Are Teens Using?, but in general I do not think the two are tied in any measurable way. Some people only drink, some people only smoke, some do both, some do neither, some smoke socially and never drink.

Is there a lot of peer pressure?
Ahhh, this is a controversial question. I got angry comments on my last post, one by a particular Mr Marijuana who was angry that I was against smoking and said that there was no peer pressure to smoke. I can only speak from my own experience and the experience of my friends.  I would say that I did feel peer pressure, but only once I got to college.

Does it lead to bigger drugs? Is it a gateway drug?
In my opinion, no. In fact, I know many people who smoke weed and refuse to drink or do anything else. For the most part, I think that teens will do pot and if they want to try ‘harder’ drugs they probably would have if they had smoked pot or not. The only correlation I have seen, is between pot and mushrooms. I think that many kids who do pot, also try mushrooms later on.

For those of you who have the not-my-kid-syndrome:
“My kid is an athlete, so there is no way he is smoking pot”
“She has such nice friends, they are all straight A students, they couldn’t smoke and be doing so well in school”

Some of the smartest people I know (with the highest GPAs) as well as many athletes smoke pot. Sometimes athletes smoke in the off season if they get drug tested (although some people buy ‘clean urine’ for their drug tests–Teens Dealing Clean Urine For Money ) or even during the season by using a vaporizer so it does not effect their lungs.

In the next post, I will be talking about how to talk to your kids about the facts and what to do if you think your kid is already smoking pot.

A Few Additions to my previous pot vocab list for parents:
Hotboxing- Going into an enclosed space to smoke so that even what is exhaled is breathed back in.

Fruit Bong- Some people do not use bongs, pipes or joints and very craftily carve a fruit into a smoking device so that the smoke picks up the fruit’s flavor (usually apples, but I have seen a picture of a pineapple before).

Roach- The end of a joint (marijuana cigarette, which has a strong residue of everything that has been smoked before it.


Previous Post: Warning Signs Your Teen is Doing Pot

Previous Video: Peer Pressure to Smoke Marijuana

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If you are just feeling generous…

Please vote for me on the Bloggers Choice Awards!

It takes two seconds to register and I am going for best parenting blog.


If you like this article, read our other Radical Parenting Articles.  If you are really inspired, think about taking the Radical Parenting Pledge..are you radical enough?

Contest: Best Parenting Podcast/Radio Show

So, the 50 Best Mom Blog contest went stupendously!  I got great submissions, spread around a lot of traffic and most of all I got a lot of feedback from my regular parent users that it really opened up the world of blogging for them and they now have some new sites in their bookmark folders!

I love encouraging parents to help inform each other and keep strong communities and this is the best way I can think of doing it by spreading the link love!


1) “Podcast or Radio Show”: Any website on which an individual or group of people produce audio files regularly (how is that for a loose definition).

2) “Parenting”:
A blog, or blog part of a larger website that is contributed to, created, or written by parent or parents.

3) The content of the blog must have something (anything) to do with families, parenting, kids, or teens.

4) Submit the web address, the name of the blog and why you think it should make the top ten to:

Vvanpetten (at) rrules (dot) com

You can also include a favorite article that I can link to in the review.

5) Submit your favorite Parenting Podcast/Radio Show by:

Friday: 4-18-2008

*You can submit your own show!

I am so excited, start submitting your favorite shows to me!

Babysitters, Nannys, and Housekeepers Oh My!

nannies-housekeepers-babysitter-teen.jpgOk, first of all, how good is that title? You know, its like my friend Dorothy said, “lions, tigers and bears oh my!” Get it?! I am always proud when I can be creative even in my titles! OK, onto the serious business and advice.

Do Teens Need Babysitters? (this was my alternate title)

This is a question I get asked a lot and it is important to think about the role that babysitters, nannies, housekeepers, tutors and coaches play in your kids lives. For the purpose of the article I am going to call these types of people support staff.

I think hiring a support staff for your teens is a great idea for a variety of reasons (even if you might not need extra help).

1. Pretend Your Teen Doesn’t Need Them

By 16, I was a babysitter myself and I hated when my parents hired someone when they went to the movies to ‘watch us.’ For the reasons below, I explain why support staff can be great, but first you need to make sure your kid does not hate you for bringing them over. Always tell teens and kids that the babysitter is there for some other reason. Start with:

“I totally trust you, and know you can take care of yourself, so I hired ____ because…

your little sibling needs extra help and I didn’t want you to have to watch them.”

I am doing it as a favor, this girl needs some extra money for college loans, you know how it is.”

I am expecting a few important phone calls and want he/she to be here to get them and don’t want to bother you with it.”

I need he/she to watch the house/plants/dogs/neighbors yard.”

he/she is also going to show you some really cool things online/tricks to study/ how to get your homework done quicker.”

Really, anything other than “You need to be watched.”

3. They Can Be Teachers

Notice how I said above “show you how to get homework done quicker, tricks to study.” I always say this instead of “time management, study skills and organization”–but that is basically what it is. I think support staff, whether they are babysitters, tutors, coaches or nannies always have something to offer whether it is Spanish lessons, organizational habits or how to use the Internet safely.

4. They Can Be Mentors

I think all teenagers need someone in their lives (other than you) who they can go to if they need help or advice. I know I have talked about this before, but the role model figures I had in High School were my dance teacher and a babysitter. I so admired them and they taught me things I never would have listened to my parents about like how to take care of my body, how to stand my ground with boys and even how to dress. My parents told me all of these things, but I never listened because I felt they were so far from my own reality. Yet, these support staff members were closer in age (and in my mind, much, much cooler).

5. They Can Be Your Back-Up

Lets be honest, we hear from you and our teachers all the time, so we totally tune you out. When I used to babysit, and even now with my private clients, parents will ask me to gently push one of their points when I am hanging out with their kid. For example:

Mom: “Vanessa, when you are doing study skills with Erin today, would you mind also talking to her about procrastination and even though it is ok now, it doesn’t work later?”

<In Erin’s bedroom looking at her backpack and study materials, talking about bad teachers>

Vanessa: “ugh, you know once I had this horrible history teacher, she was so unfair, anyway she assigned tons of homework and it was never that hard so I waited to do it until the night before–you know that is how it stays really fresh in your mind…”

Erin: “Oh ya me too, I do that too!”

Vanessa: “Ya, well this time it got me in big trouble because….”

This way it feels more relatable and not so nerdy to stop procrastinating. Parents can use support staff to portray a lot of ideas that kids normally tune out.

6. Do Your Research

With the recent stories of nannies in the news about bad nannies getting caught on tape, parents have to be extra careful!


For nannies, my parents used and I always really liked Nannies4Hire. I think they do really good research and background checks which is really important!

For babysitters, I really like I researched a lot of sites for this article and I think these two are the best.

50 Best Mom Blogs

best-mom-bloggers.pngI constantly get asked by parents, “what websites do you read?” and “as a parent, what websites should I read?” You all know that I read a ridiculous about of parenting websites, but I have a soft-spot for mom bloggers and wanted to do a great round-up of all of my (and my reader’s) favorite mom bloggers. Below are the reader submissions, reviews and some of each blog’s most popular articles. I am so pleased we got a huge variety of mom blogs submitted.

There are many great parenting websites that include mom blogs, I did not put them on here, do not fear, they will be considered in the 50 Best Parenting Websites post. You can email me your submissions at vvanpetten (at) gmail (dot) com. Also we offer a lot of services for mom blogs to actually make money blogging.  We know many of you need to make some extra income as well as having blogging as a hobby.  We have a bunch of resources for mommy bloggers to easily build traffic and monetize like we did! (So many ebooks and webinars on this subject are for general bloggers, we focus on getting parent traffic).

(in no particular order!)

Get Your FREE Ebook: How to Communicate with Teens and Tweens 101 written by our actual teen writers and Vanessa Van Petten! Sign-up for our newsletter and get your free guide on how to communicate with teens and tweens, actually written by youth.  We have tips on catching lies, opening up difficult topics and bonding in cool ways.


“She puts it all out there! Mistakes, jokes, touching moments and you really feel like you are not the only one who has crazy mom experiences. I LOVE HER BLOG”

Busy Mom
For all of you busy mommies, this is a blog for you!

mom-blogs-online.pngMy Mommy’s Place
“If you are searching for something – an answer, an idea, encouragement, or perhaps validation that you’re making the right mothering choices. If you’re like me, you are searching for ways to grow and be a better mother.”

The Bean Blog
Great Blog that covers a big age spread, 5-15, this mom has her hands full and has some great articles.

The Weary Parent
This a great site for teens and tweens with articles that straddle both groups and beyond!

Mother Thoughts
This is a personal favorite. A Jewish, writer, feminist, researcher, mom can only write a fun and humorous blog for parents.

“She is so funny and very personal, which I think is necessary for a great blog on parenting” Check out an awesome article here.

Adventures in Parenting
Katy has written a number of guest posts with me about teens online!

Suburban Turmoil
“Definitely not your main-stream mommy blog, very spunky and fun.”

“Stacy writes about peaceful parenting in the midst of chaos… she includes kid cuteness, mama rants, and honest dealing with those less than stellar mom moments.”

Get Your FREE Ebook: How to Communicate with Teens and Tweens 101 written by our actual teen writers and Vanessa Van Petten! Sign-up for our newsletter and get your free guide on how to communicate with teens and tweens, actually written by youth.  We have tips on catching lies, opening up difficult topics and bonding in cool ways.
Family coach, Margit Crane who has written a guest post for me is awesome!

An honest and funny look at a beautiful family dealing with Autism. A really nice blog.

“A really sweet blog about everything from cooking to life”

The Mama Bird Diaries
“The mama bird diaries is a funny, unpredictable take on the sweet and maddening experience of motherhood. It’s honest and it’s smart (not in a “I know the capital of every state” kind of way) but in a clever way.”


Lovely blog and I especially adore the great photos she includes of her family adventures.

Get Your FREE Ebook: How to Communicate with Teens and Tweens 101 written by our actual teen writers and Vanessa Van Petten! Sign-up for our newsletter and get your free guide on how to communicate with teens and tweens, actually written by youth.  We have tips on catching lies, opening up difficult topics and bonding in cool ways.

Blog Networks

5 Minutes for Moms
Twin mommy bloggers! This is a mommy blog network for shopping, blogging and connecting.

This is a community of moms and dads who blog about all issues for parenting, I like their variety of articles and the emphasis of parenting community.

The Mom Crowd
“My favorite mom blog is definitely the Mom Crowd, she is adorable, her kids are adorable and I really like her easy going attitude in her posts.”

I really like this site! It’s funny and very candid with all different kinds of blog posts!

I love MomLogic and all of the great videos and articles they have for parents. Don’t visit when you are short on time, lots of resources!


(emoms at home)”This is a fantastic resource for moms and dads, thy have great news articles and Erika does a really good survey or parenting issues right now”

Get Your FREE Ebook: How to Communicate with Teens and Tweens 101 written by our actual teen writers and Vanessa Van Petten! Sign-up for our newsletter and get your free guide on how to communicate with teens and tweens, actually written by youth.  We have tips on catching lies, opening up difficult topics and bonding in cool ways.

Amazing Moms
“I have graduated from the baby sites to Amazing Moms Blog and really enjoy their posts.”

Mom Blogs with A Specific Passion
Anne Collier writes this fantastic blog about updates for parents and families for the Internet. She is also the author of “MySpace Unraveled: A Parent’s Guide to Teen’s Social Networking”. I have been trying to interview her, but cannot get her to return an email! Still, this website is very informative.

Radical Parenting

Shameless plug! We are a parenting blog written by teens, we review and guest post from other mommy bloggers and love giving advice, insight, tips and a secret view into the lives of youth.  Check out our most popular posts too!

Good blog for all of you political minded mommies!

Healthy Living Lounge
“Inspiration for Holistic Living” Carole Fogarty has a great blog and has written a guest post for me about bringing zen into your children’s lives.

Green Mom Finds
Love this, for moms and green sustainable living. They give really cool advice and find good products.

Calm Tech Coach
I love this site because so many people are overwhelmed by technology and this momma writes about how to balance life and not let technology stress you out.

Get Your FREE Ebook: How to Communicate with Teens and Tweens 101 written by our actual teen writers and Vanessa Van Petten! Sign-up for our newsletter and get your free guide on how to communicate with teens and tweens, actually written by youth.  We have tips on catching lies, opening up difficult topics and bonding in cool ways.


Awesome parent to parent blog that “breaks down teen culture, substance abuse and parenting” very good website for parents who are worried their kids are thinking about drugs.

“Sustenance for Lesbian Moms” Dana Rudolph keeps current on many issues facing lesbian moms and write some fascinating articles for any parent.

“As a mom of girls, I like her stories and advice, a must if you have girls”

Blonde Mom Blog
“I often read the Blonde Mom Blog and think it is really cute and informative–even for non-blonde-moms!” A great article is: Delusions of A Working Mom

Mindful Momma
“Mindful Momma is a great mom blog because she pushes green living, how to be conscious about the waste you are producing and pass those values onto your kids. Really a great message and great info.” Here is an article about why Mindful Momma lives and writes green.

The Silent I
I love anything that talks about travel, Glennia Campbell has some great articles about travel and family.

Jen’s List
If you are a Los Angeles area mommy then this blog is for you. It is more her newsletter with literally the best resources–everything and anything having to do with Los Angeles Parenting/Family. It’s amazing she has enough time in the day.

Get Your FREE Ebook: How to Communicate with Teens and Tweens 101 written by our actual teen writers and Vanessa Van Petten! Sign-up for our newsletter and get your free guide on how to communicate with teens and tweens, actually written by youth.  We have tips on catching lies, opening up difficult topics and bonding in cool ways.

General Mom Blogs

Tellin It Like It Is
“This is a blog about parenting children and teens, relationships, marriage, dating, divorce, abuse of all kinds, caring for elderly parents and much more.”

Intuitive Parenting
I love, love, love the message of Tara Paterson’s blog. She discusses how parents can really understand their children on a deeper level and has some great articles. Also check out her JustforMom site, which is also fabulous.

Please Stop the Roller Coaster
Sue Blaney does an excellent job of combining realistic attitudes and loving advice on her parenting blog. I am always bookmarking her articles!

Just Tell Me What To Say
“Sensible blog posts for perplexed parents” says it all. Betsy Brown keeps a very realistic and interesting blog for parents!

The Parenting Coach
“I am always astounded at the depth and helpful ways Barb tackles serious issues and makes them handle-able” Check out: How to Gain Respect From Your Teen.

Mom 101
“Quick, witty and one of my favorite blogs to read!” Check out her most popular article: The Sanctimommy.

Although I am not a mom, I will put my own in here because I think it is a great resource for moms!

I know this is a really long post, bookmark and save it for later. You never know when you will need a great travel blog for parents or a political blog for moms etc. Thank you so much for all of the email and comment submissions I got!

Get Your FREE Ebook: How to Communicate with Teens and Tweens 101 written by our actual teen writers and Vanessa Van Petten! Sign-up for our newsletter and get your free guide on how to communicate with teens and tweens, actually written by youth.  We have tips on catching lies, opening up difficult topics and bonding in cool ways.

I truly believe the more information and resources you have, the better. People often ask me “Aren’t you afraid of the competition?” This is not about competing, any mom, dad, teen, teacher, person who has a positive message for teens and parents, I want to help/hear from you. Please feel free to continue to post your own submissions in the comments! And forward to any other mom bloggers to post about their sites.

Also we offer a lot of services for mom blogs to actually make money blogging.  We know many of you need to make some extra income as well as having blogging as a hobby.  We have a bunch of resources for mommy bloggers to easily build traffic and monetize like we did! (So many ebooks and webinars on this subject are for general bloggers, we focus on getting parent traffic).

Dream big, work hard and you will get there,

Vanessa Van Petten

PS- I am starting to take submissions for best dad blogs, best teen blogs, best websites for parents, best mom social networking sites and best Podcasts for Parents.

vanessavp (@) radicalparenting (dot) com

Want to show your product or service on one of my posts or a week of posts? Please visit Advertise With Me.

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10 Things Kids Wish Their Parents Do

1) Please talk to us about things that aren’t school related.

I am defined by more than my GPA, how I did on my math test and whether or not the recess aid likes me. parents-need-to-know-this.jpg Obviously, you know that, but sometimes out of habit you only talk to your kids about school stuff.

2) Find out about colleges besides the top twenty and jobs besides doctor, lawyer, accountant.

I have an idea, lets not constantly ask Juniors and Seniors in High School whether or not they are considering Brown or Harvard. There is so much pressure to get into these schools and parents seem to pick the careers and schools that are literally the hardest to get into. We like to think we are different. If you know our unique interests help us think of other careers and schools that are not so typical.

*I title this picture: “Please don’t ever tell my friends you go to the Renaissance Fair”

3) Ask us what we think is fun (this actually changes over the years)

I love you mom and dad! My parents still get me I Love Lucy things. I loved loved loved I Love Lucy when I was 11. My tastes have changed (thank goodness) I have moved on from Hanson and Backstreet Boys (THANK GOODNESS). Our tastes change quickly and I know that my parents get my I Love Lucy calendars because they remember the sweet (annoying) little girl who tried to dye her hair red and actually asked for vitameetavegimin in the pharmacy, but come on, now I am seriously into Project Runway…do they have a calendar for that?

4) Don’t say ‘we want you to do your best’ and then ask why we got a B on our test.

If you really just want us to do our best, act really excited with anything higher than a C+, or anything we seem really excited about.

5) Please just listen, problem solve later

We never think we need help, so when we vent, even though you are the guru of all parenting and can solve all of our high school problems because you have been there, done that–don’t try to help us until we ask.

6) If you think we are a good kid with a good head on our shoulders, then give us a chance to show it, back off a little and watch what happens!

How can we a puppy show you he won’t run away if you never let him off the leash! Ok, horrible example, but you get it.

7) Give us time to unwind before asking us about our day

Some kids like to get a snack to unwind, some watch TV, some brood silently, some fight with siblings, whatever your kid’s habit is to unwind from a day at school, let them do it and then try talking about things that are non-school related.

8) Please have interests and hobbies other than US

Self-explanatory…ok not really I have to add a comment. You are cool too! Go out there, make us prepare dinner on our own a few times a month and join a bowling club or book group, anything really, it makes you calm and gives us a chance to have friends over without your permission (just kidding…but really go get some hobbies).

9) We semi-like sitting down to dinner and hearing about your day

Even though it looks like we are not listening, we usually are and secretly like family dinners.

10) Be willing to be our scapegoat

Anything uncool/lame/weird I do I usually blame on my parents. Please just be ok with this. If someone makes fun of an outfit I bought, then I tell them my mom bought it (sorry mom). When I didn’t want to do pot, I told people my parents were crazy and drug tested me (they didn’t really but it got people off my back). This works for both of our benefit and usually can keep us out of trouble, so just be willing to take the blame with our friends.

Do You Have A Parenting Community? [Advice Column]

Hi Vanessa

You often talk about speaking to parent groups.   I do not have one of these groups, do you think I should? How do you recommend starting a solid parenting community?

-Maryellen of Austin TX! 

Even though, I recommend lots of activities to do with your teen, more family time and staying informed about issues with drugs, sex and the Internet.  Knowing what is going on in your individual communities is even more important, because this is what your kids are experiencing.

Here are a few ideas to making your own group!

Step 1: Find Other Groups

Many schools, temples, churches and neighborhoods have parenting groups, book clubs and monthly, weekly or annual meetings. Before you start your own group, join the larger organizations and see if you connect with other parents.

Step 2: Stay In Your Community

Some parents make the mistake of forming groups with parents who are not in their immediate community. Begin compiling a list of parents who not only go to your child’s school, but are in their grade and class so you can talk about homework problems, teacher issues and class parties.

Step 3: Your Kid’s Friend’s Parents

That’s a mouthful. It is so important to know your kids friends and their parents. When I talk about getting together with other parents to plan safe weekend activities, this will be useless if your kids are not friends! Also, being friends with these parents will help you get to know your own kid. Often times, teens will open up or let loose in front of friend’s parents but not you.

Step 4: Approach and Form

Start to make calls, send out emails, talk in the carpool line about forming an ‘official’ group. I say official because I mean that you form a group of 3-10 (any more or less than this and it gets out of hand or is useless) and find a regular meeting time or discussion session about parenting issues in the community.

Step 5: Inform and Share

Once you have formed your group, split up who gets to host (or do it at coffee shops) and assign everyone a meeting to lead with issue and news that week. The host will do some research and send out relevant reading through email the few days before the meeting.

Parent Group Meeting Schedule: This is a printable PDF sign-up sheet I already made for your first meeting!

Step 6: Find Resources

I humbly ask you, my readers, for a small favor. I hope that you can use my posts as a jumping point/spring board for your group’s week’s topics. I can start to mention springboard questions in my posts to encourage you to meet with other parents and hep your meetings flow.
Please, please, please, if you already have a parenting group or some parent friends, if you could take a moment, and maybe look through your email address book and send them an email about my site and the articles I offer. I want parents to be able to work with each other and stay informed about current issues and I thank you for spreading the word about my website.

Find your parent community…or create it!
Dream big, work hard and you will get there,

Parent-Kid Contracts: Tips and Samples

Ok, I am a big fan of family contracts. They usually worked pretty well in my house and I have already encouraged cell phone contracts. Recently I stumbled upon a number of online contractual services. I decided to do some research for you to see if any of them are up to snuff.


This website offers behavioral contracts:

“You receive a Family Values Worksheet, and 9 individual contracts including: Teen Driving Contract, Drugs and Alcohol Contract, Teen Dating Contract, General Behavior Contract, and Consequences.”

I decided to break down and pay the $20 for this contract package and charged it to my business credit card as research for my blog. I really do not like spending money. For $20 I expected these PDF’s to be able to make fireworks explode out of my computer, follow the parent-contracts-with-kids.pngkids around to enforce curfews and maybe even have a customizable ‘sign-in-blood’ section. Alas, no, they were just PDF’s with a few fill-ins and fancy words to scare kids.

I would not recommend paying for these, they are soooo general and it would be better to make your own (see tip 3 below for some samples).


Again, in the name of research I signed up for this new online contract service. Stickk:

Promotes healthier and happier living by helping people achieve their personal goals through the signing of Commitment Contracts. Happier people = happier world!

Cute, right? How can I not sign up for something that promotes a happier world. They have contracts for everything, even “learn how to eat with chopsticks!” To test out if this would actually work for parents and teens, I decided to sign-up for a good old weight-loss contract. I figure, if Operation Oprah succeeds…when Operation Oprah succeeds, and my nightly affirmations work in the next 26 days (like the book said) I will have to look uber svelt and toned (the camera adds 10 pounds!).

At first, it was fun and I was excited by the prospect of losing 10 pounds, but then the contract got kinda serious…as in, it asked me to put up money–if you do not make your goal you can donate to charity. Real money, no monopoly dollars here people, my hard earned cash…have you checked my Google Adsense stats recently, I have made $30.35…for all time (feel free to click around on any of the ads on my site if you are feeling generous).

Anyway, we already learned above with the bogus $20 PDF’s that I do not like to spend money. I wussed out and chose the ‘no money’ option. I think this is a really good way to get teens to keep their word though, the ‘goodbye allowance’ aspect and the third party enforcer makes it easier for you and more motivating for kids.

teen-parent-contract-family.pngHere is where it got even harder, it makes me check in with my measurements, and makes me list an enforcer and support contacts. I put my mom, my boyfriend and my second email address on there…(hey, I can be a really good support for myself.) They get an email to remind me of my goal and they have to check in with me at ‘weigh-ins’ too!

OMG! Now, I not only have to face myself at the end of 12 weeks, but also my friends and family. Plus you join a whole network of other weight-loss contractees! Great, thats all I need, some rando perv emailing me to remind me that I still need to lose five pounds.

Well, I just started last night. I included the contract for you to see, I debated whether or not to put my real weight on there for the world, but hey, why not, I would rather have you remind me in 12 weeks about my goal over the strangers on Stickk. (Yes, I know I made the goal 12 pounds instead of 10 like I said above…2 for good measure). I will let you know how it goes, but I think this could be a really good service for your family.

3) Make Your Own!

We love DIY projects (do-it-yourself) here in my house. So here are a few guidelines for you to make your own:

Ideas on Parent Contract Topics:

-Driving Contract- driving with friends, hours at home, driving siblings.

-Cell Phone Contract- Hours, who to call, minutes, texts, games, calling during family time

-Drinking and Smoking Contract- substances, partying,

-Dating Contract- Age limits, dating times, locations,

-List of Family Traditions, morals and values

-Chores Contract- A fridge board is always good for this.

-Electronics Contract- when to use TV, videogames, computer, hours etc.

-Family Time Contract- no cell phones, amount of time together, activities.

-School Contracts- Academics, Homework time, studying, grades,

-Curfew Contracts- after dances, parties, sleep-overs, what happens at friend’s houses

-Money Contracts: Allowance, summer jobs, spending money.

Tips to Set Contracts Up with Your Family:

– Explain to your kids why you are setting up the agreement: You do not want to have to nag anyone about rules and consequences and this is a way to just write it all out.

-Make sure you can live with the consequences in the agreement you make (can you really stand having to entertain them if they cannot watch tv /talk on the phone/ or play videogames for a month?)

-Have a clause for ‘updating’ and how often you can make changes to the contract.

-Have everyone sign it and put it up somewhere…it makes it feel more official.

[Advice Column] Is Your Child Dealing Urine?

Submit your question to my weekly Saturday Advice Column at vvanpetten (at) rrules (dot) com.

teens-dealing-urine-for-pot.jpg“I have heard that some teens are making money by selling urine, is this true!?”

I know, you freaked out when you saw this title.  Its true, urine dealing is a pretty profitable teen business right now.  A bit more underground than the pot dealing business, but I felt obligated to post about this on my blog because I want to keep my readers informed on everything and anything going on with us.

Imagine if you are in High School, imagine you are a top player on the basketball team, imagine you smoked some pot at a after-dance house party, imagine you know you are about to be drug tested and if you fail, you get kicked off the team.  What would you do?

What many teens are doing is going to urine dealers–usually other students who have access to clean urine.  The teen urine dealer who alerted me to this ‘profession’, lets call him Tom, has two younger brothers who pee into cups whenever the urge calls.  He keeps a cooler under his bed and whenever athletes call him and ask for ‘yellow gold’ he delivers it to them and athletes/teen job applicants/students with pushy parents pretend it is theirs for the drug testing.

So yes, it happens.  I would not say it is hugely prevelant because, luckily, many kids who ‘need’ this service do not know a urine dealer.  Yet, it is important for parents to know about this aspect of the pot and drug culture ad that drug testing might not always work.

Stay informed,


7 Steps for Parents: Should Your Child Have a Cell Phone?

0423webstory_text10.jpgMorgan Pozgar sends over 4,000 texts a month.
This is her ‘training’ for the LG National Texting Championship.
She competed against thousands of people on April 21, 2007.
She texted the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in 42 seconds.
She won $25,000.
She is 13.

Imagine the day when the Olympics and Physical Education classes are replaced by texting and videogame championships and training, when you might walk into a pre-school class and overhear the teacher asking the kids to make sure their cell phones are turned off. Ok, I am exaggerating just a bit, but you get the idea. Cell phones are a major concern for many parents.

I feel that families can be well prepared to approach the cell phone dilemma with confidence and allow kids to have a modified cell phone starting at a young age (I personally think you can start at 7). As a young person, who might have abused my cell phone privelages a few times, I want to provide some steps for parents to protect their child from the dangers (and abuses) of a cell phone as much as possible:
(If your child already has a phone, see if you can switch plans or make some new ground rules starting at Step 6.)

Step 1: Weigh the Pros and Cons


-Potential health risks: brain damage, hearing loss, radiation or tumors
-Protecting children’s privacy from unknown callers, advertisements or hackers.
-Controlling children’s communications with friends, social engagements and who they are in contact with, when they are too young to understand all of the risks.
-The gift that keeps giving, high phone bill costs.


-Allows you and them to keep in contact at all times, no matter where they are.
-Easier to make plans, pick-up times and locations so the child does not have to wait in an unsafe place, borrow a strangers phone etc.
-In the case of an emergency, it can be a lifeline, where children always have a method of reaching you if phone lines are down or there is no other phone.
-GPS features can allow you to keep tabs on your child at all times.

Step 2: Talk to Them
-Find out if they want a phone and why. You want them to be on the same page as you, so there are no surprises (and they do not get their hopes up for a blackberry and really get a Disney Phone). This will also help you have an idea of how they plan on using it to get the most cost-effective plan.

-Tell them your concerns about having a cell phone and that you plan on having a number of ground rules and a service that will also have guidelines. (again prepare them)


Step 3: Research a Service and a Phone

Sprint Service and Phone
*Allows parents to set wireless ‘boundaries’ for the phone to work.
* Controls which contacts can be entered into the phone book.
* Restricts incoming calls to those that are programmed by the parent.
Cost: $79.99; the parental control feature is part of the phone and can be added to your family plan.

Verizon Service and Phone

*”Chaperone Service” parents can restrict numbers and calling times
* “Child Zone Service” allows parents to locate your child’s phone from your phone or computer. You set up the locations such as home or school and receive text messages when the phone leaves those areas. (thank goodness this was not around when I was in High School)
Cost: The Chaperone service must be activated by a Family Share account, which is $9.99 per month. Chaperone with Child Zone feature costs $19.99 a month.

AT&T (Coming soon a service called: “Smart Limits”.)
* Limits for number of texts and instant messages
* Limits dollar amount of downloadable purchases (ringtones, games, etc)
*Limits times of day the phone can be used
*Limits who the phone can call or text (incoming and outgoing)
*Limits Internet content access

firefly-image_0422.jpgFireFly Phone $39.99
* Has 5 buttons to store up to 20 numbers, has designated buttons for ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ and ‘emergency’.
* PIN protection allows parents to limit incoming and outgoing calls to numbers stored in the phone book.
*Also has upgrades: GlowPhone $49.99, FlyPhone, $99.99

TicTalk $99, $9.99 a month (AT&T only) also pre-paid cards.
*Kids ages 6 and up and comes with five educational games
*Parents can put the child’s spelling list in to be used in Hangman.
* Parents control incoming/outgoing calls, the times of day to call

Whereifone $80, $20 per month plans
*For ages 6 to 10 built in GPS, fed to you via web or phone access
*Parents can see where the phone has been- get periodic updates.
* A 20-number phone book where parents can restrict calls
* An “SOS” panic button for emergencies.

Step 4: Check Out What Other People are Doing

I hate recommending this, but talking to other parents or your school is a good idea o gauge what other people are doing with their kids in your area.

Step 5: Make a Purchase
I think it is great to buy it with them, so they can get excited and understand that it is a big deal and a big responsibility. You might consider having them pay for part of it or do chores to earn it. (again glad this post was not around when got my first phone)


Step 6: Set-up the Rules and the Phone

Program in all relevant numbers, put the GPS reminders or limits on the phone and your computer. Make sure YOU know how to work it before handing it over to your kid, one of the major loopholes the teens I know abuse, is that they know their parents couldn’t figure out who they have been calling even if they wanted to, because their parents cannot work the phone. After you have figured it out, hand it over with a very specific set of guidelines and rules, with the consequences laid out clearly (I like written contracts for things like this).

Step 7: Trust Them…closely
Tell them you trust them with this big responsibility and let them try it while keeping tabs.

I hope that this helps you make your decision about getting your child or teen a phone. Whether your child has one already or not, I really think phones can actually help you keep your kid safer with all of the new features that are out there.

Also see my post: Sample Teen Parent Contract on Cell Phone Rules

Dream big, work hard and you will get there,