These five simple tips for parents might keep you from becoming alienated from your kids.
1. Communication should be two way.
Often you will find yourself walking around with a lot of information on a subject. You may know how a radio works, what the origin of the word "obfuscate" is, the function of a majority whip in the senate, or any other topics on which you could provide an in-depth explanation. DO NOT SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH ANYONE WHO DOESN'T ASK FOR IT, ESPECIALLY YOUR CHILDREN! Even if it seems relevant, you're just wrong. Just because someone uses the word "decimate" does not mean that they want to hear it's origins and a story about your freshman algebra teacher who explained it to you a million years ago.
Here's why: It's not relevant. Not to them and really, when you stop to think about it, not to you either. Do you *really care* about the origin of some word? Do you *really* passionately care about who invented the cathode ray tube? How are you going to tell someone who cries when they listen to a twentysomething opine about lost love how a barometer works?
Don't just talk to let people know what you know. It's pretentious in general and it's poison for a relationship with your offspring.
2. Babies know everything about life.
You may know how to drive a car, what fdisk is, and what the quadratic formula is for, but a baby hasn't been corrupted by political ideologies, guilt, fear of inadequacy, and religion. We forget how things are really supposed to be as we grow up and become a part of how things are, but babies still know how things should be.
Remember this as your offspring grow up. Consider the things you say and whether or not you are trading some of their infant-like view of the world for some frame of a pragmatic horrorshow. Try to learn from your kids as well. Don't just act like you are the teacher and they are the student. It's pretentious in general and it's poison for a relationship with your offspring.
3. Never, ever, ever act as though you are infallible.
You're not. Your kids know it. You know it. it wouldn't kill you to explain your logic most of the time.
4. Know that you are bringing them into a harsh world.
I think that a lot of times, when children are sexually abused by family friends, catholic priests, or anyone else, the distance felt between that child and the rest of the family gets chalked up to some loss of innocence. That may be true, but I think an often larger element is that it's just another thing for a parent and a child to not be able to relate to each other about (assuming the parent was not also abused). It's hard to talk to someone who has been through something you haven't.
If you're going to have a kid, be prepared for them to move about in a world where they will surpass some of your world experiences very early. Here's an example: Take the age you were when you lost your virginity and subtract 3-5 years. Assume this is the age they'll start having sex.
Be prepared for them to encounter hard drugs much earlier. Be prepared for them to deal with addictions and violence and heartbreak and thoughts of suicide much earlier.
These things might distance you from them, but in order to give you any chance to relate to them, you'll have to prepare for these things, unless you want your kid living in a bubble.
How to Prepare: If you think it's inherently wrong to be gay, to use drugs, to believe something other than what you personally believe, then you are in trouble. The best preparation you can have is to accept that your children *will* grow up to be different from you. If you wanted anything else, you're not only kind of an asshole, you're going to get a sad surprise.
Be ready to empathize with them when they go through those harsh situations. That's the best you can do to prepare.
5. Special bonus tip:
At a certain age your kids will have a revelation about you. If you're a fuck up, they will see it. If you married the wrong person they will take note of this. If you have a drug addiction or if you abuse alcohol, they'll know it. No matter how pathetic or angsty they seem when they scream their accusations at you, listen. They might be right.