Monday, August 29, 2011

Virtual Book Tour Stop (with a guest post from Vanessa Van Petten)

Have you heard our latest story?
Mojo's Outdoor Adventure (17:01)
Mojo the ferret takes an unexpected trip outside but 
will he be able to find a way back in?
Free audio download: Mojo's Outdoor Adventure
Blog with activities: Mojo's Outdoor Adventure

Night Light Stories was invited to be a stop on a "virtual book tour" by Vanessa Van Petten. Vanessa Van Petten is one of the nation's youngest experts, or 'youthologists' on parenting and adolescents. She now runs her popular parenting website,, which she writes with 120 other teenage writers to answer questions from parents and adults. 

You can learn more about her and her upcoming book on the website:

The following post was written by Vanessa about her upcoming book.
 It is full of ideas and insights she has received from teenagers. 
 Feel free to leave her a message for Vanessa in the 
comment section of the blog or on her Facebook Page. 

The Three Fights Every Parent Has With Their Kid and How to Stop Them

By Vanessa Van Petten, creator of and author of the parenting book, “Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?”

When I was 16 I thought it was my Dad’s goal in life to make me miserable. I was convinced that he had a running list of all the ways he could embarrass me in front of my friends, trick me into doing more chores or make my curfew earlier. In fact we had three of the most common parent-kid fights:

1. The “It’s Not Fair” Fight

-Older brother gets to stay out late with his friends. Teen finds this grossly unfair.
-Parent gets to have soda, child does not. Teen finds this grossly unfair.
-Teenager cannot buy new outfit for dance because it is too expensive. Teen finds this grossly unfair.

2. The “Treat Me Like A Grown-Up” Fight

-Teen wants to be able to stay out late with friends. Parents say no. Teen thinks they are being treated like a child.
-Teen wants to go away for Spring Break, parents say no. Teen thinks they are being treated like a child.

3. The “We Are a Different Person” Fight

-Parent wants their teen to join band, teen doesn’t want to.
-Parent expects higher grades and when teen doesn’t do well, a huge fight ensues.
-Teen does not keep room tidy, parent gets upset when guests come over.

We would have these kinds of fights over and over again until one day I saw my Dad reading a parenting book. I flipped through it while my Dad was in the bathroom and realized a lot of the things he did that drove me crazy he was getting right out of this book! I looked at the other parenting books on our shelves and realized that they were all written by adults. I wondered—has anyone ever asked teens to write to their parents?

I decided to build a website where teens could answer questions and write to parents called I couldn’t believe how quickly it grew and how happy both teens were to get their voices out and parents were to have a new outlet for connecting with their kids! We now have over 120 teen writers who give advice. Here is what they had to say about solving each of the common parent fights:

1. The “It’s Not Fair” Fight

Emotional Intent: When you hear a teen talk about how unfair something is, what they are often feeling is, “I am not important or special enough.” If you feel like your teenager is constantly arguing about justice or fairness, they are most likely feeling like they are not being heard or cared about enough to get
what they want. Of course, this is usually not the case. In the examples above parents would be worried about safety, health and money, while teens feel like they are not as important as their sibling, that their parents do not understand how important the dance is, and so on.

Solutions: The best way to stop the “it’s Not Fair” fight is to address the emotional intent. The best way to do this is for parents to push into the “it’s not fair” feeling from their children instead of pushing against it. For instance in the new outfit example a parent might say to their teen, “I hear you think this is unfair, will you tell me why?” A teen will most likely respond, “You buy stuff for yourself all the time,” or “But I deserve this dress.” These answers are important because it will show the parent the emotional intent behind the upset and feelings of injustice. If a parent addresses these by saying something like, “I could see how you feel like us not buying this for you is about you not feeling worthy. But the truth is we are trying to save for the big vacation we are taking this summer—which is for all of us. I know how
important this dance is for you. Maybe we can get you a new pair of shoes or…” then the fight is stopped.

2. The “Treat Me Like A Grown-Up” Fight

Emotional Intent: Most fights during the teen years are actually based in this ‘treat me like a grown-up’ motivation. The earlier you can catch and address it the better it will be. It derives from the fundamental pulling away that comes with a teen trying to assert their independence.

Solutions: It is very important for parents to discuss reasons for decisions that are making a teenager angry. This way teens are sure to understand the real reasons for a parent’s choice. Another great way to help teenagers get less upset in fights surrounding their maturity is for parents to help teens feel mature in other ways. For example, perhaps parents do not want their teen to go away for the whole Spring Break because they want to have family time. A great way to address this with teens is to say clearly, “We really want to have family time with you, but we know you are getting older, so how about you do a weekend camping trip with your friends for one of the weekends.” This teaches teens you trust them, but it is all about balancing needs.

3. The “We Are a Different Person” Fight

Emotional Intent: Often times teenagers tell me that they will purposefully keep their room dirty or choose unapproved hobbies just so they can be different from their parents. Parents frequently misinterpret room cleaning or bad grades for laziness, when something deeper might be going on.
Teenagers often will ‘misbehave’ or fight with parents simply to show them that they are their own person—even if it gets them into trouble.

Solutions: First, it’s important to make sure that you do want your child to be their own person. Be careful not to push expectations or your own goals onto your kids. Second, make sure teenagers know that some of the requirements you have for them (good grades a tidy room for guests) are not to make
them feel less like an individual, but for them to have more choices in their future and to present a nice home to guests. I recommend parents being very direct with teenagers about their need to be ‘their own person’ you might be surprised what common fights are actually based in this emotional intent.

I think teens and parents can work together to overcome their differences and learn to work best together. We have just come out with our book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded and it is a radical approach to parenting because it is written from the kid’s perspective! We would love for
you to check it out—if you are brave enough to see what kids have to say!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Episode 37: Mojo's Outdoor Adventure

Click here to listen to: Mojo's Outdoor Adventure

Hi All,

We would like to send out a special thanks to Laurie Berkner of the Laurie Berkner Band for recording a bumper for us. You can find details about her new DVD, “Party Day”on her website or Facebook Page . What an exciting adventure for her! Speaking of adventures, our favorite little ferret is back with an adventure of his own! Mojo’s Outdoor Adventure was written by Chris and Melissa Bugaj. As you listen to the story, consider the following: What adventures have you been on lately?

What did you say? A word of the day! In our story 
there are many juicy words that are fun to use and say.

aroma: an odor arising from spices, plants, cooking, etc., especially an agreeable odor.
impulsive: swayed by involuntary impulses.
reconsider: to consider again.
shiver: to shake or tremble with cold, fear, or excitement.
vivid: strikingly intense.


Try these activities to keep your imagination glowing 
after hearing the story.

1.  Have you ever heard the phrase, "Look before you leap"?  This type of saying is called an idiom. Idioms are words, phrases, or expressions that are used in everyday language and have meaning other than the basic one you would find in the dictionary. You can find a list of idioms at Idiom Site. How many idioms can you think of?

2. In the story, Mojo was stuck outside. Brainstorm a list of other ways Mojo could have tried to get back in the house.

3. Sequence the following events in the order they occurred:
               * Mojo traced the perimeter of the house, searching for a way in.
               * Thousands of aromas assaulted his nose.
               * A gust of wind swept down the hall and blew across his fur.
               * Mojo's mother found him outside on the deck.
               * Mojo dug in the dirt, chased his tail, and rolled down hills.

After listening to the story, can you recall the 
details to answer these questions?

1. Why did Mojo's curiosity prickle in the beginning of the story? 
2. What was the problem Mojo had when he tried to get back into the house?
3. Where did Mojo play once he jumped out the window?
4. Who did Mojo hear and see on the deck?
5. When did Mojo think it was time to go back in the house?

We want to send out bright birthday wishes to:

Seth F of Texas
Damien L of Massachusetts
Mariella of Louisianna
Zadie of West Virginia
Ryan of Texas
Kelly of West Virginia
Beth P of Maryland
We hope your day SPARKLED!

Image by
If you are interested in learning more about earthquakes, what causes them, 
or reading about the recent one we had in the Virginia/DC area, 

*Select fonts used in this post were found at

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Have you heard our latest story?
The Farm Girl and the Feather (22:59)
A fairy tale that proves warriors and their weapons 
come in different shapes and sizes.
Free audio download: The Farm Girl and the Feather
Blog with activities: The Farm Girl and the Feather

Feel free to post your visual definition of languid on our 
As always, we look forward to watching the glow grow brighter 
with the many words we can share together.

*A special thanks to Kelly M of New York for suggesting this word! *

Friday, August 5, 2011


Have you heard our latest story?
The Farm Girl and the Feather (22:59)
A fairy tale that proves warriors and their weapons 
come in different shapes and sizes.
Free audio download: The Farm Girl and the Feather
Blog with activities: The Farm Girl and the Feather

Who do you share a kinship with? 
Feel free to post your visual definition of kinship on our 
As always, we look forward to watching the glow grow brighter 
with the many words we can share together.