I've come to the conclusion that there is one main rule of good parenting. In fact, I think we can extend it to life in general. I'm not saying it's an easy one to follow. I'm not saying I'm any good at getting it right all the time. I'm just saying that there is one real important key that hangs out like a giant umbrella over everything:
Sometimes it's managing theirs. It's preparing the three-year old for the fact that he really can't have his 5 Millionth Hot Wheel car just because you're about to set foot in a Supermarket that happens to sell them.
Sometimes it's managing your own. It's remembering that even though you've already told the three-year old he can't have the toy car, he's still going to ask because he is, in fact, just three. You still say no, but you don't have to leap to blow-up response when he asks.
Sometimes it's managing both. It's reminding each other that a) it's ok to be upset that he asked for the damn car four more times before you left and b) it's ok that he's sad he's not getting the car even though he asked 5 times in the store and four more on the ride there and another 2 on the way home.
Sometimes it's not accepting the lowest common denominator. It's remembering that even though it's ok he's upset, he's old enough now and he's been through this often enough, that he really should not be tossing a monster fit the entire five minute ride home because he's short one brand-new car. And when he does avoid the tantrum, substituting a simple pouty, "I'm not happy!" you know its fair and it's ok for him to say so.
I find that when we don't expect too much of ourselves and of our children it's easier to accept the disappoints. When we don't expect too little of ourselves, our chidlren, our associates, we push each other to strive for our best.