Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

Musings by Donna #56 What’s a Mother … or Father to Do? No Manual Provided

There are manuals for cars, air conditioners, computers, cameras. There are directions for how to plant a seed, assemble a bookcase, install a toilet.toilet1

The instructions for how to make coffee are essential, but they never work for me. You do not want to partake of my coffee. It’s the worst! There are textbooks to teach about the sun, moon, and stars, to add and subtract, and to lend insight into how our government works. (Forget that! It’s broken. Won’t go there.) There are “How To” books to guide you through the rigors of grammar. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. is a great one. Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith thMartin will set you on the straight and narrow. Irma S. Rombauer offers beautifully presented recipes in her book called, The Joy of Cooking. I have the book, but I have yet to find the joy. How about How to Sew a Button: And Other Things Your Grandmother Knew by Erin Bried? I mean – Come ON!

With so many manuals, direction sheets, instruction booklets, and how-to books why is there no comprehensive set of instructions on how to raise a child? One of the most important jobs we do in our lives as parents comes manual-free. Fly by the seat of your pants! That’s what most of us do. It Takes a Village thFor those of you lucky enough to live near extended family, you have someone to lean on. An old proverb states “It takes a village to raise a child,” and I truly believe that. Unfortunately, our society no longer has the village in place. Children move away from home, many times states away or countries away. (I did.) Grandparents and aunts and uncles are not able to offer their advice on how to handle junior or “juniorella” except by cell phone or email. Not very satisfying! Often children are being raised by a single parent. Imagine the stress of that! It’s difficult enough to raise a child with two parents and the intact village.

Most parents strive to provide love and the best care for their children. They want them to excel, to get a good education, to succeed, and to be happy in their lives. But that’s no easy task, especially with no manual or how-to book to guide them. Many parents rely on memories from their childhoods – remembering how their parents raised them, grasping the good features while scrapping the less desirable. Many parents also reinvent the wheel, as each aspires to be the best parent ever – surpassing their own parents, who the offspring sometimes feels, didn’t quite meet the mark. I think we are all somewhat guilty of that. I know I am. I set out to be the best parent. My children were the sun and the moon and everything in between. Discuss! Talk! Spare the rod – but we didn’t spoil the child. Communication – that was our goal. And, it worked most of the time. But, it didn’t work sometimes too. That’s natural. That’s the way of the child. That’s the way of new struggling parents.

The teen years seem to be the roughest. All those hormones flying! “But, Mom, it’s different now. It’s not like when you were my age.” “Dad, things have changed. Join the 21st century.” “Emma gets to stay out until 12:00. Why can’t I?” “You just don’t understand!” “When I’m a parent, I won’t make my child eat peas.” “She can do whatever she wants.” The protestations are endless and ever creative. Those are the woes of the teenager and the parent alike. Fortunately, teen hormones eventually settle down. Most teens become  reasonable adults. That is our quest, our goal as parents – to once again live in harmony with the child we love so much; that sweet little bundle of joy that Orange Polka-dotted Dress thwe dressed in the cutest orange polka-dotted dress with matching bloomers or the OshKosh B’Gosh® jean outfit; the toddler we scrimped to buy the coveted dollhouse, fishing rod, picture book, dump truck, or doll baby. We remember the scraped knees, the last minute homework assignments, the dashes to Emergency Rooms, and the soccer goals. We smile as we recall the prom gowns and tuxes, the car keys, and the mortarboards flying in the air at graduations. But, mostly for me … I remember the three hand squeezes – the secret that means “I love you.”instruction-manual

No, there’s no manual, no direction sheets or instruction booklets or how-to books … and so we do our best as all parents do, hoping that we have done a good job and that perhaps our children will someday understand that we raised them with our deepest love.

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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)


April 22, 2013 - Posted by | Musings by Donna | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. That is why I am the grandmother to a 17 yr. old teenage girl. Paybacks are a—–. Now my daughter gets to go through the teenage girl routine. Times are changed- I don’t have to listen to the door slam any more- My dotter has that joy. I so enjoy your blogs. Thank you

    Comment by Colleen Gallagher | April 25, 2013 | Reply

  2. Colleen, you’d think after so many generations of the same problems we, as humankind, could figure out an easier way to transition from childhood – through the teen years – to adulthood in one piece. Every generation strives to improve on the last, but alas many of the same mistakes recur.

    So glad you enjoy my blog.

    Hugs, Donna

    Comment by Donna O'Donnell Figurski | April 26, 2013 | Reply

  3. I don’t think I am doing it right!

    Comment by Val | May 9, 2015 | Reply

    • Of course, you did it right, Val, and I was part of your village.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | May 9, 2015 | Reply

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