I think a lot about how I should raise little R so that she has the best chance of success in life. I want her to be smart, so I expose her to many new experiences. I want her to enjoy reading (since poor reading skills are correlated with huge problems, like being suicidal, dropping out of high school, and going to jail), so I buy her lots of books and read them with her often. I want her to be well-adjusted, so I try to be be calm, consistent, affectionate and positive whenever possible.
Probably the most important quality for a happy, successful life is a personality characteristic referred to by psychologists as "conscientiousness". People who have a lot of this succeed in school, at work, and in personal relationships; they also live longer, healthier lives. People who are low in this quality are more likely to commit crimes; develop drug addictions; have difficulty sustaining friendships or marriages. They are even fatter.
What does "conscientiousness" mean exactly? It's defined as "the quality of acting according to the dictates of one's conscience": in other words, the ability to be self-disciplined. Aspects of self-discipline include an ability to postpone gratification (passing up that cookie; not having sex with that handsome stranger; going to work even though you want to sleep in); being careful and painstaking in the tasks you attempt; and thinking carefully before acting. Traits associated with conscientiousness include orderliness, self-control, industriousness and responsibility, and honesty.
So obviously one of my main goals as a parent ought to be helping little R build and develop her self-discipline. It seems like this is perhaps the most important gift I could give her (at least after being loving and affectionate, so that she doesn't become a psychopath). The only question is, how to do this? I am still thinking about it.