I'm feeling emotional, so I apologize in advance for this incoherent rant.
Until about 9 months ago our parenting style was what I'd call willfully ignorant. We spanked Josh, not often, but it happened. We expected obedience. We punished or rewarded him to modify his behavior as we saw fit instead of helping him grow into his own person. It makes me sad to think back on it, now seeing what we put him through in a different light.
He turns 8 this month. He spends most of his waking hours outside playing with neighborhood kids, away from me, and all I can think about while he's out there is how quickly the years have flown by. He's out on his own, building relationships with people on his own, being his own little man, and I keep thinking how I didn't give him the foundation I wish I had.
Its something we work on a little everyday, but there is no substitute for the foundation you give your kids in those early years. Make it one of love, kindness, compassion, patience and understanding. I know parenting is hard, and the days are long, but hang in there and make these things your priority. You can never get those moments back.