Down With the Instruction Manual

Thanks for all of the book suggestions on my post yesterday.  I have read many of those before and could stand to read them again.  I’m hoping to get a copy of Grace Based Parenting because I’ve heard good things about it before, and that title sounds right up my alley.  And also, Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen sounds really interesting.

You see, I’m what a good friend likes to call an "info junkie".  When I’m making a decision, whether it be parenting or purchasing or otherwise, I like to get all the information I can get my hands on.  When my kids were babies, I read everything from Ezzo to Sears.  I started out following a "one size fits all" parenting method, but I discovered as my parenting style evolved that I prefer to take more of an "eclectic" approach. 

Basically I like to compile all the data, and then I take what I like and ditch the rest.  The phrase "whatever works" used to ruffle my feathers, but now I find myself chanting it with the best of them.  I’ve learned to rely more on my instincts and less on the "manuals".  But I think there IS value to reading the "manuals" as long as you realize that every single one is written by a fallible human being and none of them have YOUR child.  We all know that no one parenting book is the end-all be-all.

I love that with over 20 comments on that post, everyone pretty much said the same thing, that there are no formulas, no easy answers, and that we have all that we need in our own God-given maternal instincts and the wisdom of Holy Scripture.

I think my favorite comment was from fancythis

I know (and so do you!) that I
have no children, and perhaps that makes me unqualified to comment,
but…..YOU are your instruction manual!

Don’t you remember the very days when you felt the same way as he
does now? To me, it’s best to keep those in your memory because more
often then not, they’re going through the same thing. And, most of us
end up realizing how valuable our parents are after getting burned a
few times by those "friends" of ours whose time and opinions we valued
more so long ago. Don’t worry, as long as he’s not demonstrating
ridiculously rebellious behavior, I say you’re good to go.

Just put
yourself in his shoes instead of thinking about your hard time. (Please
don’t take that as me telling you you’re being too selfish, he’s your
CHILD for Pete’s sake, of course this time of his life is hard for you
to feel out.) I always find that my youth group kids respond better to
me when I’ve put myself back in highschool rather then boring them with
the wisdom I’ve acquired.

Trust your own instincts, you don’t need no manual. 😉

For some reason, her comment really cracked me up.  And hit home.  Because just the other night, when we were at the gym, and my son and his friend were acting up and being obnoxious (just typical kids, nothing dramatic or horrific), that’s when it hit me that I remember SO well being his age and acting like that with my friends and probably driving my prim and proper mother absolutely bananas. 

And it was at that exact moment that yesterday’s post began to form in my head.  Because for the first time in my parenting career, I can actually remember what it was like to be the age of my child.  I remember being the sometimes silly, sometimes sullen, sometimes bratty kid.  I remember some days thinking my mom had hung the moon and other days thinking she pretty much had no clue. 

And I realize that now I’M the mother that I remember.  And I think that freaked me out a little bit. 

Okay, that freaked me out A LOT.

So thank you, ALL OF YOU, who gave great book recommendations and great practical advice and a great reminder that I am not in this alone — that I have the Wisdom of the ages at my fingertips.  (And within earshot.)  Yall are the best internets ever!

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2 Responses

  1. Oh, this is a great follow up to yesterday’s post! I completely agree. I read a lot and always take what works from these books for each of my children. I love that they have different personalities and that I can parent them differently. It certainly does keep things interesting! That is so cool how you said you can finally remember being your child’s age. What a true statement. It is only now that my daughter can ask me the question, “Mom, what was it like for you when you were my age?”, that I can actually think back and start to remember. Great stuff, girl!

  2. Okay, I’m so behind on reading posts! I totally missed that one, but Grace based parenting is an excellent book. I did a review of it last year, you can find it in my 2007 book review link in the sidebar. Also “Teenage boys!” by Bill Beausay is also excellent. I know yours is not that age yet but it will come in handy as you get closer.

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