Strict or Lenient – what is better parenting?

An article in the Wall Street Journal is evoking sharp responses – Why Chinese Mothers are Superior. The question is really one of the diametrically opposed views on parenting. Western parents will not criticize or condemn. They expect that their children will learn on their own at a pace they are comfortable with. Chinese mothers don’t care about their children’s self-esteem. It’s about inculcating the value of diligence.

So which is the right approach? Are you going to turn your children off something just because they don’t enjoy it as soon as they take it up? Learning mathematics is tremendously taxing in the early phases. Persistence is the only way to succeed. I’ve heard about the Kathakali dance classes at Kalamandalam. Children wake up at 4 in the morning and go through a rigorous regimen of exercise where they learn to control every single facial expression. It takes decades to master. And the teachers are stern and unforgiving.

But it is also true that you excel at what you enjoy. The bestsellers are full of quick fixes – for everything from losing weight to succeeding in business. There is a formula for success. Doggedness is underrated because it does not glamorise effort. And you can’t do it in 12 one hour episodes of a TV-saturated world like the reality shows would have you believe.