My husband and I agree: ideally, one child. Maximum, two. I started thinking more along the lines of two before I got pregnant — right now, I’m happy with having one (baby has a cousin who will be almost exactly a year older, and another cousin long-distance who will be 2 years older).
My parenting style would probably be classed as more authoritative, i.e.: rules are always enforced and are clear to the child. When a mistake is made, punishment tends to be more supportive than punitive. It’s a more democratic process — I will listen to my child’s concerns and complaints, but ultimately, I’m in charge. I am a warm, comforting person. Discipline is consistent and administered after one warning (“If you continue to do (blank), I will do (blank)”).
I grew up with authoritarian parents. We were given no reason for rules (“That’s just how it is.”). Punishment was inconsistent and often severe. Punishment was focused on being punitive and discouraging — they mostly seemed intent on watching us suffer and be humiliated, rather than focusing on us becoming better people (in all of these years, they have not changed). We had no privacy and our parents freely went through our things, computers, journals, etc., then blabbed about it to the entire family. My parents had no business having kids and they were emotionally abusive.
As an adult, I’m very averse to authoritarian parenting styles (not just my parents’ mode of it, but the general principles that the idea encompasses). I think it involves treating children like prisoners, rather than giving them the security and encouragement to slowly become more independent. I wouldn’t want them treating others poorly (nor would I want anyone else to treat my kids that way), and I want them to have positive self-esteem.
There is balance, of course. I don’t like the “my baby is an angel, no one can ever say anything bad about my princess,” or the “My child is the BEST” entitlement attitudes. I expect to raise my kids with an awareness of their weaknesses, but also with emphasis on their positive characteristics.
For what it’s worth, I have been involved in raising my young cousin since his birth (he’s now 8). I treat him the same way that I expect to treat my own children…and he’s better-behaved for me than he is for anyone else in the family. He knows my boundaries and knows that candy goes back on the shelf if he continues acting out/he will wind up in the corner again and again each time he tries to escape. I have also cared for several other children. While demeanor and personality can vary, and certainly you have to adjust accordingly…this is generally a parenting style that works well with most kids. <br /><br />Even the power-hungry ones.