Love 'Em Right
Parenting is a bit like an oar. Study the oar, it is a plank of wood that has been sanded and softened, yet is durable, resilient and strong. The sanding is all over, but the edges are where it is best shown the curves and soft edges of its grooming. This is so when the oar is pulled through the water it cuts right in smoothly instead of choppy or hard. It makes the experience more enjoyable and comfortable for all who transport in the boat or canoe.
As a parent the first five years are for structure and foundation. Without a solid foundation trouble will be inevitable. Have firm and strong rules in place. Be consistent with their application. Be hands on and involved as much as possible. The middle childhood years it's important to still do as the first five but boundaries are instilled by now and in place so less time is devoted to discipline though it is still present. Teen years we become coaches. Kids know what is expected and are given more freedom to explore who they are and what makes them happy. Direct them toward the discovery of purpose, dreams and aspirations.
When we need to be authority in their lives we need to be clear. But the soft edges, like the oar, come with delivery of truth and how we administer it. Is it coming from a place of love or is it our own need to be in charge? One of the best things my own Mother taught me was to say yes as much as I can so when I had to say no they knew I meant it.
Finally, as parents we can't play favorites. Favoritism will bread jealousy and competition in family. It will tear unity apart. You may have a personality that jells best with one kid more than another-but every child needs to be your favorite. Hope this helps someone. I'm not an expert, but I've definitely had lots of practice getting it right. Your kids love you! ~Nicole
"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." Prov. 22:6