Being an assistant instructor in martial arts and working in a public environment I am afforded more opportunity than I would like to see different parenting styles, attempts, and outcomes. Beyond that, my experience in a teaching/leadership role as an assistant instructor has given me opportunity to even try different teaching styles and methods of gaining obedience without using corporal punishment (though I wholly support parents giving their kids a smack upside the head or a spanking if it is well earned). The end result is that I have more parenting experience than I would like, especially given the fact that I loathe the idea of having my own offspring.
I had previously drafted a long-winded explanation on my views of raising children, but I found that through all of it, the greatest message was the importance of communication.
When punishing or rewarding your child communicate the reason. I wholeheartedly support corporal punishment, but only where other methods of punishment either fail or where the severity of infraction is great. Rewards as well need be measured out such as to breed
a sense of work ethic rather than entitlement.
As a parent, your rules need be logical and reasonable, and the reason needs to be told to the child. They will learn more from it, be a little more likely to obey. "Because I said so" is not a good reason. Lead by example, and when your children are observing and learning from you, tell them why you make the decisions you do.
Don't hide reality from your children because you think they are too young to understand or too fragile to handle it. As a parent your job is too help them understand and grow so as to not be too fragile. If a pet or relative dies, explain what it means. If your child makes a mistake or fails in some task or goal, don't gloss over it or deny it. Let them understand what it means to fail, but encourage them to always try to succeed.
As a parent, know your child's strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Encourage them to pursue tirelessly what they love, and encourage them to give up on harmful or fruitless pursuits.
If your child asks a question, answer truthfully and to the best of your ability. Encourage curiosity and use it as an opportunity to learn yourself and expand your horizons. Teach critical thinking above all. If you are religious, your children will be exposed to it, but don't try to force it upon them.
Allow them to have fun. Childhood is about learning and exploring. They don't need to start down the path to becoming a doctor or lawyer at the age of 5. Let them explore their interest, expose them (along with yourself) to new things. Be a teacher and leader
in their lives, don't push off the job and hope others do it for you.
Be there with and for your child, and know when to give them space. I have seen parents ignore their kids far too often, especially during the early years. They learn language and how to interact with people first from their parents, so teach them well. Angry Birds can wait. That text message can wait. On that note, the type of language you use around them is the type they learn. There are enough mumbling idiots without an iota of linguistic proficiency, don't make more. Just as children need to be interacted with, they also need room to grow. Don't smother them.
Allow them to grow their own circles, have their own adventures, and amass a few scrapes and bruises, so long you are there for them at the
end of the day when they need you.
Parenting isn't easy, I won't pretend for a second it is. As stated before, the take away from all this is communicating with your child. Just as they are growing, it is an opportunity for the parents to grow as well. I have a certain life philosophy that applies also to parenting, as difficult as it may be to adhere to: Relax; there is no gain from panic. If you feel too stressed or overwhelmed or tired, just pause a moment, catch your breath and focus on how to get things done one step at a time. Remember, your children may just be growing and learning, but they are still people.