Local author aids teen-agers | SteamboatToday.com

Local author aids teen-agers

Work helps youths who have parents with addictions

Jamie Hallman

— From the time Edith Lynn Hornik-Beer could talk, she cut and sewed together pieces of cardboard to make her own books.

Becoming a writer, though, was only one of the purposes in her life, another purpose Hornik-Beer would have to discover for herself.

Starting her career as a magazine and newspaper journalist, Hornik-Beer, a mother in her early 20s, took a natural interest in trying to understand the new generation of youths growing up in the ’60s. She said she grew up in the quiet, well-behaved generation of the ’50s, and the complete wildness she observed in youths concerned her. Hornik-Beer said there were increased levels of pills, tranquillers and medicines being taken.

“People were taking tranquillers for practically anything that was wrong,” she said.

As a way to understand the youth, growing up in the same generation as her children, she proposed the idea to write a column called “The Young World.” The column would be written for the adult about issues relating to children and teen-agers.

“I was curious to finding out what the youth were thinking,” she said.

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She started writing her weekly column in 1964, which was syndicated in suburban newspapers. As Hornik-Beer wrote her column, she began to see patterns of youths whose troubles were rooted to their parents’ alcohol- or drug-related problems.

When Hornik-Beer sent one of her columns to an editor in Westchester, N.Y., she said the editor grew extremely angry. The column was written on the stress endured by children living with parents addicted to drugs or alcohol during the holidays.

Hornik-Beer said the editor’s anger and her knowledge of his drinking problem made her realize the level of denial associated with the problem. She said from that point on, the continual struggle she had with the editor served as a motivating factor for her to do something for children trapped in these situations.

Hornik-Beer went to the National Council of Alcoholism, and the council members suggested she write a book. To fully understand the problem, she started visiting a detention center in Westchester. She developed a friendship with many young adults and provided them with a means to express themselves.

“Often a lot of inmates were afraid to write or say what they really thought, because of how they would be treated for saying what they felt,” she said.

She started a newspaper for the inmates of the facility, and every person had his or her own pseudonym. She would collect the writing and type it herself, so no one would have any way of knowing who the authors were.

From Hornik-Beer’s experiences with the members of the facility, she said that some of the children didn’t need to be there. A couple of the inmates, she said, where placed in the center by their parents for exhibiting behavior common to teen-agers. The parents’ effort to control their kids, in some cases, she said, directly related to their addictions and their efforts to mask the problem through their children.

While she worked with inmates in the facility, she wrote down questions they had about what to do while living with a parent who abuses alcohol or drugs. It was these questions that Hornik-Beer used as a basis to write her book, “For Teenagers Living With A Parent Who Abuses Alcohol/Drugs.”

The book provides teen-agers with answers to questions about what to do in situations common to people living with parents who abuse drugs or alcohol.

Although the book has been widely distributed and used by various agencies throughout the United States, Hornik-Beer continues to give lectures. As a part-time resident of Steamboat Springs, she plans to work with local organizations in the valley, offering her expertise through programs and workshops.