1. Give children your full attention when they talk about activities and dreams. Mirror their enthusiasm.
2. Display your children’s projects—not just the ones that got the highest grades, but the ones the child is proudest of.
3. Never belittle or try to manipulate children’s natural interests. Appreciate your kids as unique individuals.
5. Speak respectfully to children: avoid condescension or impatience.
7. No matter how unreasonable a child seems, never tell her, “You shouldn’t feel that way.” Make your home a safe place to express any thought or emotion.
8. When a child admits to wrongdoing—especially voluntarily—accept the apology, then ask him what he thinks would make appropriate amends.
11. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries on truly important matters. However much they grumble, kids recognize well-thought-out limits as evidence of love.
13. Respect the amount of time each child wants with you, with the whole family, with friends, and alone. Remember that these preferences change as a child grows.
9. When kids accuse you of not caring, consider whether it’s simple manipulation or a legitimate complaint. If the latter, work out a remedy together.
12. Leave adequate family time around your work schedule. Children would rather have your attention than the perks of higher income.
15. Let kids help apportion household chores: everyone taking equal turns at everything may not be ideal when a family’s abilities and interests vary.
16. Schedule times to work and play together as a family: many hands make light hearts.
17. Get to know your kids’ friends—and become a friend to the friends.
18. If your kids argue over whom you “like best,” don’t just tell them not to be silly. Look for the real point of the complaint.
19. In a two-parent household, show active love to your partner! Kids feel extra-secure under the wings of a united front.
20. Don’t take your kids’ side against the other parent: that sows trouble throughout the family group. If you have issues with your partner’s parenting, discuss it with him or her in private.
21. When your children meet other adults, understand that kids have every right to dislike forced-contact greetings. Let them decide whether to “give Aunt Martha a big hug.”
22. If your child has problems with someone outside the household, don’t take either party’s side when complaints come home: stay empathetic, but encourage the child to define the problem and find a solution.
23. Take care of yourself. A fatigued, stressed-out parent radiates little love.
24. Smile and make eye contact when a child enters the room!
25. Come right out and tell your children you love them. Say it with your eyes and voice tone as well as your words.