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Would You Want Parenting Advice from Other Teens?

Posted by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 6:51 PM
  • 10 Replies

teen boyshruggingteen girl

Radical Business: Parenting Advice From Teens

By The Young Entrepreneur Council

The 25-year-old founder of on creating a new niche.

Name: Vanessa Van Petten, 25

Company name:, Lakewood Systems, Inc., 2007

Business: A parenting advice brand created by teens from parent-submitted questions.

Location: Los Angeles

Growing up, Vanessa Van Petten got into trouble so often that her mother and father began buying parenting advice books and guides. During one of her frequent groundings, Van Petten glanced through several of those books and spotted what she considered two major problems. First, the books provided bogus advice. More important, they were written by adults with no input from teenagers.

That’s when Van Petten decided to take matters into her own hands. At age 16, she wrote a book for parents from the teenage perspective: ”You're Grounded: How to Stop Fighting and Make the Teenage Years Easier” (iUniverse Inc., 2007). By age 21, she decided to expand the premise of the book by creating, an online community for parents and teens. With two full-time employees, Van Petten currently manages a stable of 120 contributors ages 12 to 20 who are blogging and answering parent-submitted questions.

There are three primary ways the site generates revenue. Advertisers can buy display ads on the site (for up to $3,500 per week) as well as sponsored links that appear at the bottom of a post on a related topic and direct readers back to the sponsor’s site. Or sponsors can pay between $500 and $3,000 for a sponsored review of their product or service.

Launching didn’t come without its obstacles. Here, Van Petten shares her top three startup challenges and how she overcame them.

Challenge No. 1: Getting business people to take me seriously

I was a senior at Emory University in Atlanta when I decided to use my babysitting money to incorporate. Everyone said I was too young to start a company. Without a background in business, I ended up learning how to trademark, incorporate and do my taxes from one of the “For Dummies” books.

Solution: I knew I could learn to do just about anything because there are so many resources for young entrepreneurs online. I used guide books, attended conferences and mentor programs like SCORE, an organization that offers free small-business advice. My parents are both lawyers, so they helped me with some of the forms for incorporating. For branding advice, I went to author, speaker and youth market research analyst Jane Buckingham. For help with self-publishing, blogging and speaking, I picked the brain of Stacey Kannenberg, author of the “Lets Get Started” series of children's books and founder and CEO of Cedar Valley Publishing

Challenge No. 2: Carving a niche in a saturated parenting advice market

Not only is doing something different hard to explain to new users, it is also difficult to find where you belong. The challenge was getting users to understand how our approach to parenting was different from what existing websites were doing.

Solution: We tested different versions of our “about” page and videos, and spread the word to parenting audiences that having teens offer advice to parents was a necessary new perspective in the space. We delivered keynote addresses at conferences, offered free teleseminars that were led by some of the teen writers and wrote guest contributions for other blogs. We also partnered with traditional parenting blogs to demonstrate that while we are a different kind of resource, we are also open to collaboration.

Challenge No. 3: Tapping social media to reach new audiences

Social media is a great way to reach new users, but it took a while to figure out how to use it effectively. What’s more, parents are not necessarily as tech-savvy as their children. Reaching parents virtually was difficult.

Solution: We decided to market the brand on a number of platforms, including sites for moms like CAFEMOM  and iVillage. We also did search engine optimization on our articles by tagging them with relevant keywords that were being searched for by our target user. We made videos with correct SEO tags and personally e-mailed them to big users in each community to gain exposure. The site currently averages 200,000 monthly unique visitors and roughly 600,000 page views.

Most important, we offered advice that actually works. Parents increasingly began spreading our quirky and sometimes controversial articles by word-of-mouth. We want to build a brand that is not only interesting, but also life-changing.

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an advocacy group dedicated to fighting youth unemployment and underemployment by helping young people build successful businesses and offering alternatives to traditional career paths. Its members include successful young entrepreneurs, business owners and thought leaders. It was founded in New York in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Scott Gerber, author of the forthcoming book “Never Get a 'Real' Job.”

What do you think about turning to other teens for parenting advice? Good idea or bad idea? Why?

Join us on the Moms with Teens Group!  


by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 6:51 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 7:40 PM

goodI think it is an EXCELLENT idea! I wouldn't 'automatically or blindly' take ANYONE's advice even a so called degreed expert without my own instincts, and reflection and judgement.. however I would be VERY OPEN to listening to other teens for advice on parenting my teens.

As a matter of fact we have even turned to our OWN teens for ideas. When we'd hit a dead end we'd make THEM think up their own creative and fitting appropriate consequences or life lessons and we looked for their input on things before we made decisions too. We found it very helpful! They are VERY insightful and help us see things from a different perspective.

Join us on the Moms with Teens Group!  


by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 9:37 PM

 when younger dd does something dh usually discusses it with older dd (via text lol).  He gets her input especially if it was something she did or similar.  It helps us to understand a bit...

by on Apr. 24, 2011 at 11:11 AM

It's a good idea since you can get what they're thinking and understand their logic.My teen says in your time/in old times if I'm from hundred years ago..

by on Apr. 24, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Heck yeah! Even if you don't totally agree, it's a good perspective to get and have!

by Bronze Member on Apr. 25, 2011 at 10:10 AM

It would be interesting.

by Silver Member on Apr. 25, 2011 at 10:38 AM

I would not have any interest in parenting advice from a teen.

by on Apr. 25, 2011 at 1:38 PM

 I have been a follower of Radical Parenting for years, and although I don't agree with a lot of what the teens think, I do think that hearing their perspective is important.  The writer's are exceptional kids, and their articles are well thought out and written.  I don't read all of them, but the ones I do read are interesting.

by Gold Member on Apr. 25, 2011 at 4:59 PM

I would like to hear their advice not sure I would use it.

by on Apr. 25, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Id be interested in listening, but I would add it to what I know about my particular teen, my values, and the situation...

teens and their perspective are mysterious to me, so I would welcome the insight. Still, their 'wisdom' is limited since their life experience is so limited.

by on Apr. 25, 2011 at 9:01 PM

Out of the mouth of babes can come some very deep thoughts and ways of looking at things I think we forget as we grow up and become parents our selves thinkit would offer fresh perspective on may issues

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