LAKE FOREST/LAKE BLUFF — Michael Simeck likes the book How To Raise An Adult so much that he will lead a discussion of it on November 7 to help parents prepare for a book talk by the author in Lake Forest December 4.
The book focuses on how to prepare children for success in life by learning to let them make their own decisions — even if they have to stumble before getting it right.
“It’s hard sometimes not to question what (my children are) doing, but I know I have to let them figure it out,” said Simeck, superintendent of Lake Forest Community High School District 115 and Lake Forest School District 67.
Simeck will lead a discussion of the book at 7 p.m. November 7 in the boardroom of Lake Forest High School West Campus to help people get ready for an opportunity to meet Lythcott-Haims next month. Lythcott-Haims will talk about her book at 7 p.m. December 4 in the East Campus auditorium and answer questions from the audience in an event sponsored by District 67, District 115 and LEAD.
Before devoting more time to writing, Lythcott-Haims was the dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford University. The full title of the book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, gives a more precise description of its message.
“She urges kids to have the ability to make their own mistakes,” Simeck said. “They will develop the resiliency and ingenuity they need to have the determination to lead their own lives.”
Simeck wants to share the book’s message with the community, particularly with those who are what the book describes as “bulldozing parents” who push their children toward success without providing room for growth. The result can often lead to children remaining in their parents’ homes or getting parental support until they are well into their 20s.
“The average age of emancipation is 26,” said Simeck. “That’s means they’re off the payroll,” he added explaining emancipation does not necessarily mean when a person reaches the legal age of adulthood.
Simeck said he has encountered the tension between letting his children make decisions on their own and making choices for them, diminishing their growth in the process. He has learned the good that comes from letting them decide for themselves.
“In this book you will read about what to do to ensure long term mental health for children,” Simeck said.
Lythcott-Haims considers over-parenting a trap from which parents should escape, according to a 2015 New York Times review of the book. She thinks it shows a lack of common sense, wisdom and healthy boundaries. She thinks helping with homework or heavily editing papers does more harm than good, and that it makes children dependent on their parents for too long.
Though the author urges parents to get out of the rut of parenting too much, her message is still one of raising a thriving adult.
“It’s our responsibility to know where to stop,” Simeck said.