Not too long ago I read a couple of really good articles (here and here) that led me to have an epiphany on child-rearing. This is something that has been growing in my mind, but I wasn't quite sure what it was or how to define it. Now I know. My husband and I have decided that we don't want to teach our children to obey without question. We want to teach them respect, and how to think for themselves. When I order my kids to do something, I put myself in a bad place. If they rebel will I force them to follow my orders, or do I just let them have their way and ignore the outcome? It works so much better when I politely ask them to do (or not to do) something. More often than not they respond the way I want them to, all the while feeling that they are respected and not just ordered around like mindless minions. Sometimes they still refuse, or want to know why, so I explain it to them. Yes it's tiring. Yes they are unreasonable at times, but I think this will lead to keeping a close relationship even through their teens.
I think parents too often are judged on how their small children behave. Now, I don't mean that it's appropriate to let them run wild to the point of destroying stuff and making messes in other peoples' homes. Oftentimes we do need to physically restrain our toddlers. At the same time though, we need to explain to our children what we're doing, and why they aren't allowed to behave that way. Not just "because I said so."
This won't be an easy path, but no one ever said parenting was easy. It doesn't mean I'm not going to ever tell my children what to do, but I will make a huge effort to stop ordering them around. No one likes to be treated that way. Children are just as important as adults, and should be given the same amount of respect.
Well, I still have many more thoughts on the subject, but for now, motherhood calls. Maybe more will come later, maybe not ;)