I've come to realize that my highest priority goals in life are to have a very happy marriage (I'm 7 years in and couldn't be happier), and children that think of me as the best dad ever. I'm still learning, but I have a few tips you can implement right away that will certainly have them thanking you one day.
1. Take the time for teachable moments.
“I'm busy”, “Because I said so”, “Don't worry about it”. We will all likely issue these responses to our children, and sometimes they are appropriate, but most of the time, these are opportunities to invest in your child's understanding and communication skills – and those skills pay BIG dividends.
If your child talks constantly about the show they saw that no one else did and no one cares about, don't just tell him or her to hush, take them aside and explain that because no one else saw the show, it's harder to understand the jokes or fun of what your telling them about. Teach them to think about whether it's something the other person would like hearing about.
2. Teach them that work isn't torture
In our day of video games, internet, etc., it's getting harder and harder for kids to get out of play mode, and appreciate what productive work will do for their lives. You asking them to set the table for dinner pales in comparative excitement to their quest to slay dragons, get away from the police, or complete the assault on the foreign embassy. What's ironic about this struggle is that their epic 50 hour investment to level up their character will accomplish less than 10 minutes of setting the table for dinner.
I believe their are two keys to winning this battle. One, utilize the advice from number one. Take time to explain why they are setting the table. That family members support each other and that is a way they can show love and appreciation for the family.
Second, don't force them to do work that is not needed, and not their hobby. If you have a garden because you love fresh produce, don't force you child to weed your hobby garden because you think you are teaching them to work. They'll do a poor job, constantly look forward to the end, resent you and learn to dread the word work.
Instead, set them free to work on something that is needed, or is of interest to them. Electronics are not the enemy, but help them choose something that will have a product at the end.
3. Let them take risks
My idea is that a child that is always forced to make conservative choices will soon learn to discredit parental warnings. Further, if a child doesn't learn to assess risk, they'll be much less likely to take appropriate risks in life that they should.
Raising a child is a GREAT investment into happiness. These tips will increase your ROI.