Vanessa Van Edwards is an accomplished author, speaker, and youthologist. What’s a youthologist you ask? As described on her site, Radical Parenting, a youthologist is “someone who studies, follows, and observes youth trends, activities and issues.”
Vanessa is passionate about empowering teens and tweens and helping parents and kids connect through open communication. That is the basis of Radical Parenting—a parenting advice website written by Vanessa and 120 other teen writers.
To learn more, we asked Vanessa 5 questions:
1. You wrote your first parenting book at the age of 16. What was the inspiration behind this?
I wrote my first book as a teenager when I realized my dad was reading parenting books that were all written by adults. I wondered why there was nothing by teenagers and then decided to write one myself. This is what got me started with my company that specializes in parenting advice written by teens and kids. I interviewed other teenagers for the book as well. I wanted to give youth a voice so that parents could hear a different perspective.
2. How did that first book shape your perspective on the importance of youth empowerment?
The advice that young people came up with was better than anyone expected. The book did really well and I realized that having multiple perspectives is essential to getting the full picture. I also felt empowered sharing my voice and having engaged discussions with adults around me. Working with parents helped my relationship with my own parents. This is why I decided to take teen interns, to help other parents but also to encourage them to talk to their own parents.
3. Radical Parenting is special because it provides a unique angle on parenting advice—it’s coming directly from the kids themselves. Given that the articles are written by teens, what topics come up that are not normally covered on other parenting websites?
We write a lot about teen trends and why teens engage in risky behavior. A lot of other websites can theoretically address this, however our teens can engage with it head on. They can talk about why they did something and what they wish their parents had done about it.
4. Conversely, are there general themes and topics that overlap? In other words, where do the interests of parents and kids align?
Both parents and teens want to talk about communication. Which is great because it is the most important part of a good parent-child relationship!
5. What is the single most important piece of advice you have for parents who have trouble communicating and connecting with their child?
The most important piece of advice I can give that I have also heard echoed by my teens is for parents to understand that we will come back to them. Even if it is a hard time or your teen is being withdrawn, it is the low of a cycle and just keep showing them you love them and are there for them so when they do come back and want a relationship there is still trust there.