I read manuals. Manuals are my friend. I like the step-by-step instructions and the trouble-shooting sections. I have depended on manuals for a long time.
When my children were youngsters and asked to do something I felt was inadvisable, I would say (with a straight face), "Oh, I would let you do that, but I checked carefully and on page 342 of the Mother's Manual, it says that is not permitted. I'm sorry." Page 218 informed me that boys must help with dishes, as well as girls. The Mother's Manual was a big book and it covered any eventuality that might arise. That's where I looked to find out when my daughter could wear lipstick. Sometimes the Manual did say yes...it wasn't all negatives. Telling the Kids I had to check the Manual gave me a chance to decide whether I would or would not allow whatever it is they wanted, and it gave me irrefutable backup when it didn't go their way. I mean, if it was in the Mother's Manual, how could they argue with that? I wish there truly were a Mother's Manual...it would make life so much easier.
When the Kids and I moved to Sacramento, we discovered that all lawn clippings and brush trimmings were to be put out on the street for weekly pick up. My incentive to enlist their help was the hope that we might win the Weed-of-the-Week Award, given for the biggest pile of yard trash. They did question why we never won. I told them someone two streets over had a bigger pile than ours and we'd just have to work harder the next week.
And then there was the Mean Mother of the Year Award, and I was a strong contender for this one. If my Kids had the vote, I would have gotten the Lifetime Achievement Award in this category. "No, you can't go with so-and-so to such-and-such. I'm sorry, but I need the points for the Mean Mother of the Year." I obviously made believers of the Kids, because after a particular denial, one Kid (names have been omitted to protect the gullible) stomped up the stairs, proclaiming loudly that, "You don't care. All you care about is winning that darned award!" I had drawn a blank at that moment because it hadn't been mentioned and asked, "What award?" "You know! That darned Mean Mother of the Year Award!"
It's a wonder my Kids believe anything I say...my credibility should be zip to none. The one thing that comes out of my mouth that they can trust implicitly is that I love them with all my heart. That's the truth. (And I didn't have to check in The Manual for that.)