Kids Don’t Come With Instructions

I'm the kind of guy who can handle just about any kind of project if I have a book that explains how to do it. I've taken on many a chore, with no previous experience, and successfully completed it, using only the information in a book. I have saved the manuals that come with everything I have in the house including the furniture.

In my filing cabinet I have manuals for the TVs, home theater system, computer, all the appliances and most of my grandsons' toys, which require more than just coloring or stacking stuff. If it requires tools to perform maintenance or periodic specialized cleaning, I have the manual.
The garage, naturally, has a place for the books which deal with the lawn mowers, power tools, swimming pool and a variety of job specific items such as the multi-meter, torque wrenches, etc.

Being a DIY (Do-it-yourself) type guy, I also have a collection of books which I use when I need to fix the truck, lay hardwood or tile, repair, modify or add electrical devices and a variety of others guides. Although almost all of them have been replaced or updated at one time or another, I have one that was purchased in 1992 and I still use today. It is "All Thumbs Guide to Repairing Major Appliances" by Robert W. Wood. This is like the original "Idiots" book.

The Internet is another source of information I use on a regular basis to gather information for a project. Sometimes I will use it in addition to or as a backup for the instructions in one of my books. Using books I have rebuilt a car engine (and it worked), dismantled and put together a computer, wired a shed which is 90 feet from the house and fixed, modified and updated a wide range of items.

However, what I needed and could never find were instructions for my kids. I don't mean Dr. Spock books and general guidance. I'm talking about MY boys, their lives and problems. I mean the situations my wife and I found ourselves dealing with because of their specific personalities, friends and environments.

Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of sources of advice during the 80's and 90's. There were millions of books by "experts", many of who didn't have any children of their own. The ones that did have children, could only relate to what they went through, not what I was going through. The neighbors and friends always had a lot of advice to give as well, but I didn't like some of their kids so why would I want mine to be like them? Since I was in the military, my own parents were usually thousands of miles away so I really didn't depend on them for advice on raising my boys. Besides, I knew how they had raised me and wanted some things to be different for my sons.

So that meant that I had to figure it out for myself. Never having been a Dad I could only relate to the way my father had raised me. So I decided to let my wife handle most of it and I stepped in when they needed "man" guidance. I taught them not to let people push them around and to be nice to the girls. When they played soccer, baseball and football, I was there for every game and volunteered to support the teams. I spent time at fundraisers, team meetings and school events. I went to the teachers meetings, took them fishing and defended them when some kids parent complained about how my son had hit their son. Boys will be boys and my sons were winning.

All in all I guess it all worked out pretty well. My precious wife took the bulk of it, since initially I worked and later deployed often with the Air force. She dried their tears and taught them the things that took patience (I never had much of that). She put them to bed and got them ready for school. I disciplined them, tried to teach them stuff about the car and fixing their own toys. My wife taught them manners while I taught them problem solving.
We went through the usual sicknesses, broken bones and various cuts. Because of my Air Force career they had the chance to experience things that a lot of children (and adults) never will. They saw snow drifted to the second story of the house and watched tornado funnels come from the clouds in Minot, ND. They witnessed the actual operation of and fished in the Panama Canal and learned Spanish in, where else, Panama. They've been chased by bulls, pecked by mother birds and loved by family on two continents.

Like I said, it all worked out. Now they are grow and I have one grandson and another due in a couple of days. Grandchildren are great. I don't have to worry about raising them, all I have to do is spoil them and give then back to their parents. If they get to be too much for me I can always send them home. It's great being a grandparent.

So if you are a new parent or an old one, take it from me, do what you think is best. Follow your instincts, parents have been doing it for millions of years. If you'd like a little advice along the way check out my "Parenting" information site at Then check out for information on a variety of subjects. Don't forget to subscribe to get all the latest info. Good luck raising your kids. Maybe you'll be the one to write a book on the subject.

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