Dad’s parenting manual

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Dad’s parenting manual

Dad's parenting manual
Kids making a mess
Dad’s parenting manual
Kids making a mess

There is no manual. You are on your own. Best of luck.

Just kidding. Sort of…

Parenting is hard. Parenting is frustrating. And there are so many different things that can happen in our life that make each and every situation different.

Maybe your kids are on the straight and narrow. They get straight A’s and never have to be told to do something twice.

Maybe your kid has a learning disability. And everyday homework is a challenge and a battle.

Maybe your kid was struck with a condition that hampers your life and theirs.

But there are some common ground parenting tips that can help almost everyone and provide to be useful at some point in their kid’s life. Here are a few of my tips to help you start your own parenting manual. Just remember, throw any of these away if they don’t apply or don’t work.

When disciplining get at the same level

This doesn’t mean lowering your emotional level to theirs. This means if you have young kids you get on your knees and look them in the eye and try your best to explain why what they did was wrong.

I will be the first to say I am really bad about doing this. But it works. You are not bowing down to them, you are not going to let them get away with it. You are simply looking them in the eye and rationally explaining why their behavior is not accepted.

By doing this it helps them understand that you are in this together. If you posture from a higher place this can make kids feel small and make you feel like you are out of touch with their feelings. And it also gives them the opportunity to look down and almost ignore you.

Be their parent and not their friend

For those that are single parents, this might be hard. You may feel you are all alone without your kids. You may want to have a friend because your significant other left you. But you still have to be the parent first and foremost.

Your kids will make lots of friends in their life. You can even be their friend at times when they need that and there are no other friends around. But in difficult times you have to be the parent and the leader and establish that you are in charge.

Don’t let your kids run over you. Don’t spoil them because “I didn’t have these things when I was a kid”.  Make wise decisions that will lead your kids to victory and then after they have those victories you can be a friend and celebrate those victories.

Don’t waste time

Dad's parenting manual
Fishing off the dock at Mike Miller Park
Dad’s parenting manual
Fishing off the dock at Mike Miller Park

When I was younger the first few years I was a dad I would go out and party and run around with my friends. I was young and hadn’t grown up yet. The realization that was responsible for a tiny human being had not set in.

As I got older I realized how much time I wasted. Those parties gained me nothing. I didn’t keep friendships with most of those people, and all they accomplished was wasting money and alienating both my wife and my kid. Instead of doing that I should have been at home taking care of my son.  He still turned out fine but it took me a few years to figure this out.

Even now I will catch myself watching a tv show and wondering why I am wasting my time with this. Or I will catch myself staring at Facebook for hours and wonder where did the time go. Make sure that what you are spending your time on is productive and either time with your kids or time that will help you spend more time with your kids in the future.

Follow through on what you say

Don’t use empty threats when a child does something wrong. If you say “The next time you do that you are going to timeout” but you let them do it 3 more times and do not punish them, they will pick up on this real quick.

The same goes for making promises. If you promise to do something then follow through. The only exception may be if something drastic came up that prevented you from fulfilling the promise. And even then you need to make it up in a big way if possible.

Let them make a mess

Kids will always make messes. This is part of the learning experience when they are young. This rule also applies to failing. Just let them fail for a little bit.

Help them learn from their messes. Help them learn how to clean up their messes. And above all do not be the one to always clean up their messes.

Let them be themselves

Your kids are not you. They may someday be mini versions of you. But they are not you.

One of the things that always frustrated me was my kid’s lack of interest in sports. I always loved sports growing up. I played several and enjoyed watching them on TV. But my kids never really had an interest.

And by my third son, I figured it out. If they are happy doing what they want to do then let them do that. They don’t have to be into the same things as me. They just have to be themselves and be happy.

Now I will guide them away from things that I think they will not enjoy. But I never fully discourage them before I let them try it out.

Every child is different

Pinnacle Overlook Boys - Parenting Manual
Every kid is different

I have 3 boys. When I look at pictures of them growing up through the years sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the 3 of them. But their personalities are all very much different. And as they have grown their personalities have changed over the years.

My middle son is not big on doing things outdoors and camping. But my youngest son would live in a tent and stay outside all day if I let him. All 3 of my boys have tendencies that mimic mine. But they also have their own individual habits.

If you have multiple kids you will have to treat each one as an individual. You cannot compare one child to another because every one of them will develop at different speeds and will have their own quirks and personalities. So don’t treat your kids as one size fits all.

Count to five slowly when you get injured

It never fails, your kid will do something that will injure you. They will head butt you, step on your toes, smack you with a stick. It is rarely intentional. So just count slowly to five before you react. Think about what just happened and try not to yell or be mad about the incident.

The same may apply to your kid’s actions. If they do something they shouldn’t just take a few seconds to assess the situation and make sure you understand what just happened. Maybe you only caught the last part of the action and their behavior was a reaction to something else. Just slow down and then respond.

Be involved when they are babies

After your child is born dads may feel like they are being left out. And for some dads that might be ok because they have to worry about other things like “How am I going to pay for all this baby stuff?”.

But you will also have a sense of wanting to be involved. And when they are little moms typically take care of most of the work. They get extended leave, they nurse the baby, and most times they have to get up with the baby at night because of the nursing.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. Give mom a rest once in a while. She will be tired, she will be exhausted, and she will want a break. Here are some tips on how to be involved with your little ones.

  • Cook (or learn to cook if you don’t know how)
  • Do the laundry
  • Hold the baby so mom can get some rest
  • If the baby is on formula feed the baby
  • Change diapers

Kids are expensive

Dad's parenting manual
Kids are expensive
Dad’s parenting manual
Kids are expensive

If you haven’t figured this out yet, it’s true. My son asked me the other day if I had made a million dollars. And my response was that yes if I counted all the money I made since I started working I have made over a million dollars.

Then his response was “Then why aren’t we millionaires?” and I replied with “Because I have kids”.  He didn’t appreciate that answer, but the reality is kids cost money. You have daycare, health bills, camps, food, diapers, formula, braces, toys, birthdays, and about a million other things that want your money to keep them going.

Parenting manual – throw it out

Look, every family is different. Every situation, every child, every parent is unique and requires special care. Any time you hear someone say they have a parenting manual then ask them if it was written with a pencil. Because with each of my boys I rewrite my own parenting manual.

And not only are our situations different but time changes. My boys are all spread out over their ages and the world has evolved with each child. When my oldest was 9 years old cell phones were not really a concern. But now that my youngest is 9 I have to worry about technology and what he is exposed to when he uses a device.

Dad's parenting manual infographic
Dad’s parenting manual

Do you have some sort of parenting manual? Do you have rules you live by and remember with each child? If so let us know in the comments or let us know on our Facebook page.


  1. I think we all wish sometimes there was a rule book so that parenting would be so much easier. But the challenges we go through all have the same goal, to raise strong amazing children. Your post is right on, no kid is the same no personality is the same, the only thing that is the same is how much we love them and want the best for them. Boy….it is a lot of work😉

  2. I would add to this to make time for you. I did the opposite of you. My entire existence became my son, so much so that I still alienated everyone including my husband, family and friends. I think balance in parenting is key.

  3. A child takes at least 50% of your life – money, time, energy and can also impact your mental health. I salute parents who juggle work and taking care of the home. I don’t know how our parents and grandparents did it. It’s draining just thinking about it. Parenting is a skill that develops over time; we were not born with an inate ability to get the job done.

  4. This is so great! I’ve got 3 boys too (the oldest is 4) and I’m already seeing myself in a lot of the same situations as you have. I’m gonna be keeping a lot of these in mind in the coming years.

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