Hornell offers advice on raising children to be independent, responsible adults
Updated: February 28, 2013 2:26PM
NORTHBROOK — Parents who are looking for some advice on turning their middle school children into responsible adults may enjoy listening to author Deb Hornell discuss successful strategies in this area.
Hornell, author, business strategist and mother of three, on Thursday will present “Parenting with the Future in Mind” for those who have middle school youngsters.
The presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Field School Auditorium, 3131 Techny Road, Northbrook. It is open to the public and free, courtesy of the School District 31 Education Foundation ACT NOW campaign, although a donation is suggested.
Hornell, the author of “Good Things for a Full Life,” which was published just last month, said she was asked to address the audience as a kick-off for a speakers’ series that is to be offered on an ongoing basis.
“But we are going to examine the role of parents of middle schoolers. We’ll be talking about how they are managing the transition for themselves, as well as for their children as that transition occurs,” Hornell said. “It’s a great time as children are coming into their own. One of things I’m going to hit on is that at the age of 14, the age of identity, is when they are trying to get a sense of who they are in the world.”
The teenagers are exploring, learning and trying out new things. And some can be risky, while some aren’t, Hornell said. But that combined with hormones, the shift from adolescent to teen, and the shift from middle school to high school is a time that can be very exciting or very scary, she added.
Hornell plans to ask what “success as a parent” means to the audience, how they are preparing their children for greater independence and themselves for their children’s greater independence.
“The relationship between parents and their children is extremely close when the children are young. It’s very dependent on the child’s part. Parents tell their children when to eat, sleep, go to school,” she said.
“But when children go through their adolescent period, they have to try things out. For the parent, there can be new questions: ‘Who am I now? Do my children no longer need me? Do they no longer love me?’”
Hornell will focus on the parents’ shift to a relationship with older children and what an increase in independence means for the teenagers.
“It will be couched in this overlying theme of ‘How do I ensure my children are safe and how do I ensure that I’ve prepared them to make safe choices?’” she added. “This is ‘Parenting with the Future in Mind.’ It’s about what parents envision as success for their children and what kind of life they want them to have.”
Hornell noted that when she considered having children, she wasn’t thinking about having “babies.”
She thought about bringing humans into the world and that it was her responsibility to mold them and prepare them to be independent. And she thought about what kind of adults she wanted to raise.
So she would like parents to prepare to shift their role from being more of physical caretakers to coaches encouraging their children to lead the lives they would like their children to lead.
“In my school district in Glen Ellyn, we had a similar parenting series and it was the oxygen I needed when my kids were in high school,” Hornell said. “It taught me how I as a parent could be prepared to ask questions and look for things that might be red flags to help my children. I give School District 31 a lot of credit for starting this series.”