As a parent of adult children, I can personally observe the effects of my parenting styles upon them through the years and how it's shaped who and what they are today!
When my husband and I first started out, we were very strict and not so very kind. My oldest son remembers the harshness and says he actually wondered if we really loved him! He also remembers watching us mellow through the years and rejoicing in the positive change it had on all of us. He admits he prayed and prayed that we would be softer and kinder. It must have worked because my middle and later children have the benefit of a very patient, kind, and considerate father and mother.
I think we as parents need to set the finest example of what we expect from our children. Children learn what they live and will be a product of either a happy home or an unhappy one! And, they in turn, will pass on what they learned to their children.
If we want secure, loving, happy children we must provide that type of environment for them. We must not dictate in a miltary, authoritarian fashion, but give them reasonable, intelligent choices, and allow them to take responsibility for and experience the results of those choices. We shouldn't hover over and around them to prevent their making mistakes, but lovingly and willingly step back and let them make mistakes, knowing they will learn valuable lessons along the way.
I strongly recommend the "Love and Logic Approach to Parenting." It's something I'm trying with my youngest son, who is about to turn twelve. In just the few short months I've been using it, I've seen very positive results. I no longer have the huge battles of will and arguments and everything is much more peaceful! I've attached a link to the website so you can check it out.
I love being a parent! It's by far the most difficult task I've ever taken on but by far the most rewarding overall!