The attic is where we store our boxes, papers and other items for irregular use. While cleaning the attic I find myself wading thru boxes of keepsakes, unfinished projects, army supplies, and papers. Mounds of papers. Some papers may be destined to stay in the files for eternity, others I easily toss into the recycling bin. The thickest papers, which are currently kept in a box, are manuals. These instruction books printed in sometimes six languages are hoarders of my space but I don’t dare get rid of them for fear of something going wrong with an appliance and I need the manual. Admittedly there have been only  few times I have used some of these manuals. Most items are simple to use and self explanatory.

What I can’t seem to find, regardless of how many times I search thru the boxes, is my parenting manual. No instruction book, troubleshooting tips or general guidelines papers for parenting can be found at all in any of my papers. Trust me I’ve looked. Why are there manuals for a toaster (no didn’t keep that one) in 5 different languages but not one single manual for how to raise kids? Scratch that, not a generalized manual for all kids but a model specific manual, or even a guideline, Cliff’s Notes version of parenting and raising my littles.

Even the three we have are completely unique and independently different. Take a child, factor in extended family dynamics, siblings, education, responsibilities, fun, entertainment… and the list goes on.

Sure I can look up different ideas, tips and tricks online from other parents or the “professionals” but in the end they are generalized suggestions and not the detailed child specific manual I need some days. Even if I were to write my experiences down with the eldest child, D, when I come to those circumstances with S, she may not respond in the same way. Truly, what works for one will not work for all, or even two.

On second thought if kids did come with manuals I imagine they wouldn’t be too terribly helpful anyway. Have you read warning labels or instruction manuals lately? Do not use your hair dryer in the bath tub. Caution, this coffee is hot. Do not put your head in the oven while operating. What kind of nonsense would come in a child parenting manual anyway?  I imagine this blog shows pretty much what would be listed.

Even though our kids didn’t come with a manual there are plenty of tips and books written by various people available out there. Why are there so many advice books out there on raising children? If it is as easy as a book would suggest there would be a need for only one right?

Turns out there is not a universal answer to raising children. The best answer I could find for all of my kids is this: book725

Each situation, circumstance, blow up, melt down, and essential roller coaster ride is unique. Our kids are each different and special in their own ways. As such so are their struggles, problems and fights with mom and dad. Take a blank book and write down your experiences with each child so if you come upon the leaky valve or stuck button you’ll know better how to repair it in the future. Because each model is a one of a kind and to be treasured always.