By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Walk into any bookstore and you’ll see plenty of self-help books on shelves. Writers offer advice on everything from how to find the perfect mate to how to lose 50 pounds. But writer Brad Manzo’s new autobiographical book can be viewed as the anti-advice book. “How Not To Parent,” a self-published book by Manzo, is a type of “do as I say, not what I do” book filled with examples of comical mistakes he has made as the harried father of two children.
Manzo, 44, who has worked as a technical writer for 17 years, recently appeared at the BookMark Shoppe in Bay Ridge to promote his parenting book. “How Not To Parent,” Manzo’s first book is based on “The Imperfect Man,” a newspaper column he wrote for newspapers in Brooklyn and in the Rockaways for several years.
“It’s a humorous book about all of the little things that can go wring even when you’re trying to do your best to make everything perfect,” Manzo told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “It’s definitely the anti-advice book. I want people to learn from my mistakes,” he said.
“I think it’s definitely relatable,” he said. Manzo, a former Bay Ridge resident, self-published the book through a company called Create Space.
Manzo and his wife Diane, a counselor, have an 11-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son, both of whom provided a wealth of material for the book. There are several pages devoted to the mishaps that took place when the kids were babies, Manzo said. “There’s nothing quite like having to change a diaper in the middle of the night,” he said.
Manzo said he looks back at those years and smiles. “There was one time, when my daughter was a baby, when we were having trouble getting her to go to sleep. I was holding her in my arms and gently rocking her. She finally fell asleep! I put her in her crib. And then, what did I do? I accidentally banged my foot into the crib leg. She woke up screaming!” Manzo said.
Another time, Manzo was looking in the mirror and discovered a gray hair. “I asked my daughter, who was about 7 at the time, to get a pair of scissors and cut the gray hair out for me. She took the scissors and started to cut. Then she said, ‘Oops!’ I knew that was trouble. I looked and saw a clump of my hair on the floor,” he said.
But it wasn’t all bad news. “It turned out that she did get the one gray hair,” Manzo said.
Manzo said that while he respects experts, he wouldn’t recommend that parents read how-to books on child rearing from doctors and other experts. “My wife and I agree on this. It’s not necessary to read books. Use your instincts. Use common sense. And talk to other parents. But ultimately, you have to figure things out for yourself,’ he said.
Manzo, who grew up on Long Island, is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego. He has written for magazines such as Writer’s Journal. He currently lives on Staten Island with his wife and two children.
How are his children reacting to being mentioned, in an often humorous way, in his book? “I think that the kids think it’s kind of cool,” Manzo said. “But I think I they were teenagers, they’d want to kill me!’ he said.
Visit’s Manzo’s website for more information on “How Not To Parent.”