First, remember there really isn’t a manual for good parenting. Have some confidence in yourselves that you can figure things out and make good decisions. You will be getting a lot of advice from family, friends, even strangers from the line at Safeway or at preschool. Most people mean well with unsolicited advice but you can select what works for you and ignore what doesn’t.
If one strategy doesn’t work, sit down together and come up with another plan. You have a wide margin of safety to work with here.
I believe that love flows best in a family with order, structure, and boundaries. A chaotic home is not a good environment for children. You parents need to be in charge, it is not a democracy.
Don’t worry about inhibiting your children’s freedom with strong authority--they will take more freedom every chance they can generate. Bedtime, bath time, getting in and out of a car seat--these are not negotiable activities.
Set limits for behavior, be prepared to hand out consequences for bad behavior as well as rewards for good behavior. If you run a household with firm leadership, your children will be happier. I know that all of you bring a lot of love and affection to the family process, but not all of you understand the need for strong parental leadership.
Try to create balance in your family life including time together as a couple away from the children.
Don’t obsess about danger in the world. Despite the endless media hype, this is a safe and wonderful time to raise children. Keep things in perspective. Spend less time worrying about trace minerals contaminating the environment and more time making sure you children don’t run into the street or fall into a swimming pool.
Control your temper, and if you lose it and overreact, apologize for your actions.
Above all, have fun and maintain your sense of humor--it will be your best friend in the long run. No one does it perfectly.