Why My Book Is NOT a “How To”

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How To Book - Why my book is NOT the best "how to" special needs parenting book.  http://brielleandme.net/book-not-how-to/

Not a “How To”

My book was never intended to be a memoir let alone a “how to” book. When I first sat down to write in 2006, it was actually a novel. I had the first draft 75% written before a friend from my writing group asked me, “Why are you trying to mask your story in a novel? You could be so much more authentic if you made it a memoir.”

That comment (plus the glaring fact that I was a bad horrible novelist) prompted me to chuck the book (aka the jump drive) into a drawer and start from scratch. Ugh.

I decided to simply pour out our story onto the pages and tried to make it clear to my readers in the Introduction that it was not a “how to” book at all.


From the Introduction of my book:

The W’s Included Here

Let me be perfectly clear about what is not here. This is not a “how to” book. There are no step-by-step instructions on how to raise a special needs child, build a well-adjusted family, or heal emotionally.

However, between the lines, you may discover how I was able to unearth simple joys from dark shadows, celebrate tiny triumphs in huge shortcomings, and slow down to enjoy life’s smallest moments. My goal is for you to reflect on the lessons I learned and find your own path in life.

Every family is unique and must deal with life’s hurdles in their own way.
I am a single voice, speaking only from my experiences. I certainly do not speak for all families with special needs children. They each have their own story. This is ours, specifically from my perspective.

Who, what, where, when, why, and how. They are all here.


You can actually read the entire Introduction on Amazon if you click on the book image and use the “Look Inside” feature.



Why It’s Not a “How To” Book

Quite simply, I didn’t feel like I was an authority in all things about special needs parenting. Despite my 18 years of experience, I knew I wasn’t knowledgeable enough about some really important topics.

  • navigating government benefits (despite receiving state benefits for a few years while Brielle was very young)
  • connecting with other parents (despite our short-lived participation in support groups and my now active involvement in a Facebook group)
  • preparing for the annual assault known as “the school IEP” (despite going through it each year)
  • managing medical crisis and medical professionals (despite the array of specialists she once had)
  • balancing the duties of parenting siblings (despite having another child)

I also just wanted to share our story as a positive representation of what a the full journey of special needs parenting a child (from birth to late teen years) might be like for some, at least for us.

I’ve read many books that are compilations from different authors with each chapter sharing a small slice of the family’s story. And while those are valuable in offering a wide perspective, they don’t get into the details of one family’s complete journey.

I’ve also read several books from single authors who present the minutia of every medical crisis, the pain of every social interaction, and/or the scars from every battle with school personnel. While those authors may feel that their shared stories represent the most important part of their family’s journey, I wanted to present something more complete, plus we simply didn’t have strings of “bad incidents” that tainted our journey in quite the same way.


BrielleAndMe Header 2

Blogging as a Different Medium

Here on my blog, I’ve shared may “how to” posts, like:

  • this one about how to encourage special needs children to grow their faith
  • this one about how to help your special needs child with zippers
  • this one about nightlight alternatives for children as they get older
  • this one about how to balance it all (which is more of a “do what I say, not what I do”)
  • this one about talking to your special needs child about the tough things

I recently added a new tool on the sidebar of this blog to help direct readers to posts that might be of specific interest to them based on their child’s age.

Sneeze Page Complete


By clicking on those images, you’ll be able to see posts that reflect parenting:

Check it out!


Is There a “How To” Book in Me?

Maybe. A good friend of mine recently suggested I could rework posts from this blog and write some sort of guide book. I’d still be facing the same issues about it not being complete. But, after giving it some thought, what “how to” book on parenting is complete anyway?

For now, I’ll just keep blogging. But, my friend got my wheels turning!


* This is an edition of Memoir Mondays where I give you a peek into my memoir and a little something extra I didn’t share in my book.

* Want to read more from my book? You can read more on Amazon’s “Look Inside” option and visit here on Mondays for more editions of “Memoir Mondays.”

What are YOUR favorite “how to” books in the special needs parenting niche?


Kerith Signature



  1. My favorite how to book for parents of kids with special needs is the one I wrote–Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide for Raising a Child with Special Needs. But, Kerith, parents need more books to help them. You definitely have a how to parenting book in you…as your blog posts show!

    Visiting from the DifferentDream.com link share.
    Jolene Philo recently posted…12 Fun Summer Activities for Kids with Special NeedsMy Profile

  2. Not a how-to book but the book My Baby Rides the Short Bus (great book, horrid title) made me feel less alone. That the feelings I had in the beginning were warranted. I still go back, now and again, to re-read the vignettes to laugh and to be uplifted.
    Kerri recently posted…Throw Back Thursday–ComparingMy Profile

    • I’ve read that one, Kerri. Good one! It really made me think about non-traditional approaches. And yes, pretty bad title, but it sure makes you pay attention and remember it!

  3. I think we could all use as many How -To books as we can get our hands on…and personal stories too! You go girl!
    Sylvia recently posted…Friendship Friday: The New and Improved Version!My Profile

    • I think it’s good to have a variety of books out there. You never know which approach will touch someone. Thanks for the encouragement, Sylvia!

  4. Personally, I’m a little turned off by the “how to” books, mostly because like you said, every family with a special needs member in it is different and I much prefer to read stories like yours that simply share personal experiences and get my own how to from them. With that said though, I adore your “How to” posts so maybe I just don’t like the “how to” books on parenting typical kids. I stopped reading those long ago because well, they made me sad rather than glad. I’m so glad you shared your story via your book and know you are helping many people with it and this awesome blog – including me!
    Kristi Campbell recently posted…Our Land: Do All Kids Have Special Needs?My Profile

    • Maybe what I need to consider is a “Here’s How It Worked for Us” kind of book. Yes, provide more details of “how to” but with a fresher approach that implies a huge caveat. Maybe…. I donno. More thinking required here. Thanks for the cheerleading, Kristi!

  5. How to books are for recipes, crafts, and math problems. This is a book that recounts an experience.

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