It's a well-worn maxim in writing: "show, don't tell". I've come to realise over the years that it's an immensely important part of real life, too.
There are glib examples that come to mind, drawn from popular culture. For instance, the words to the song "Always On My Mind". For anyone unfamiliar with it, it's a song of regret. It tells the tale of a man who has taken his woman for granted. He lists the litany of ways he's stayed aloof, then attempts to remedy the situation by saying "but I was always thinking of you". To which I'm tempted to reply "show, don't tell."
Recently I saw a discussion on a website about the falling standards of parenting. The discussion was full of wonderful advice about how smacking was not just effective, but basically necessary these days. A lot of the old "my parents smacked me, and I'm fah-fah-fah-f-f-fine!" kind of talk. All being done by non-parents. One of them had the decency to say something like "imagine if we had kids!" To which another person asserted that if they DID have kids, those kids would be angels on earth. Perhaps that's a little bit of hyperbole on my part, but that was it in a nutshell.
I'm not sure exactly why this discussion stuck in my craw so much. But it did. It's a very touchy subject, and no parent wants to be seen or known to be a "bad" parent.
As many of you out there would know, being an aunt or an uncle is a nice warm-up for parenting...but it still doesn't prepare you.
And it all comes down to those three words: "show, don't tell". Don't insist that IF you ever became a parent, YOUR kids would be smart, polite and respectful. SHOW me how you will achieve that. SHOW me how you'll stay balanced and alert when you've had only 2 hours sleep. SHOW me how you will subjugate your child's ego until they learn to do every single thing the way you want it to be done. Because no kid is easier to raise than a hypothetical one.