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Moms and Dads Still Learning at LT’s ‘Parent University’

Over a decade and a half old, the 16th annual event on Saturday again featured an abundance of parenting experts dispensing valuable advice.

What mom or dad hasn’t, at some point, wished for some better answers to the perennial enigma of parenting? Like, say, a diploma in the art of raising kids?

There’s no diploma, but there were 20 expert panels and an award-winning keynote speaker at the 16th annual Parent University, held by the Parent/Community Network at Lyons Township High School South Campus in Western Springs on Saturday 

Classes were offered with names like “The Wired Child: Parenting Kids in Today’s Techie World,” “Family Matters: Handling Allowance, Designing Chores and Delegating Responsibilities,” and the perhaps indispensible “Straight Talk—How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex.” 

“We’re hoping that parents walk away with 2-5 ideas from each one of the seminars that they go to, that they can go back and implement at home,” said Parent/Community Network volunteer Ed Zebus. “Some of them are reinforcing things they already know, [and] some are new ideas.”

Parent University isn’t as large as it used to be—only about 125 people showed up this year, half of what the program drew at its zenith; Zebus said some were drawn away by a coinciding speaker at St. John of the Cross—but it is still attended by a tremendous number of parenting experts, and offers something for both first-timers and veterans of the program.

“It’s good to reinforce parenting concepts. You tend to forget what you should be talking to your kids about,” Zebus said. “Our mission statement talks about promoting healthy, responsible adults, and that’s the focus of what we’re trying to [achieve] by bringing speakers to help parents understand how to get those values instilled in their kids.”

The keynote speaker at the event was author and speaker Char Wenc, who offered an energetic sermon entitled “Parenting is NOT for Wimps,” at one point recruiting the audience of moms and dads to dispense a pack of index cards for an exercise by flinging them into the air. (They obliged.)

Why? “Parenting is filled with unexpecteds!” Wenc proclaimed. “It doesn’t always go as orderly as we’d like it do, does it? You have to kind of go with the flow—that’s what I just asked you to do.” 

Parent/Community Network is a LT-area volunteer organization supporting “enhance[d] communication, sharing of information and support among parents, schools and other community groups.” The organization is seeking additional volunteers. More information is available on their website.

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