SEMINOLE — Bookstore shelves overflow with parenting books by experts in fields ranging from psychology to sociology to early childhood development. But one local author based her parenting guide on a different kind of experience — firsthand.
Drawing from journal entries she wrote as her son withdrew during his teen years, Lisa Hein, 55, penned and self-published I'm Doing the Best I Can! (They won't always be cute and adorable).
She hopes her experience will help other struggling parents avoid the mistakes that she made by applying some basic principles before problems begin to manifest themselves.
Hein, a Seminole resident, will outline some of these principles when she speaks at 6 p.m. Thursday at Osceola High School.
Hein confesses that she never considered herself "mommy material" but embraced parenthood when her son was born.
"I'm going to do everything different," she said as a new mother. "I'm going to make darn sure this kid doesn't grow up like me."
But she said her desire to give her son a different kind of upbringing led her to approach parenting as a friendship, and, as a result, he never respected her.
"We are not their friends. We don't need to be their friends; we need to be adults," Hein said. "When you lose respect, they don't look at you as a parent. You lose, bottom line."
Hein said she had a wonderful relationship with her son when he was young and tried to give him everything she didn't have growing up.
"He was everything I needed in my life."
But during his high school years, everything changed.
"In ninth grade, all hell broke loose. It really caught us off guard," she said. "We kept asking ourselves, 'What did we do wrong?' and we were living with this guilt and horror."
Unable to communicate with her son, she began journaling as a way to express her frustration.
"I could only communicate with a piece of paper," she said.
As Hein talked to other parents, she realized she wasn't alone. She began to examine her role as a parent, and as she looked back over her journal, she began recognizing some of her mistakes.
The journal entries seemed to organize themselves into chapters and the next thing she knew, she had a book.
Hein's parenting philosophy emphasizes giving children what they need, not everything they want. "We don't owe our children the world," she said.
Instilling values and character in kids is most important, she said. She advocates building family time into each day and giving children chores and responsibilities.
Hein speaks with the passion of an evangelist when she addresses parenting and says she hopes her experience can help others.
"I can't save the world, but I can help one family at a time."
Michael Maharrey can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.