I was reading Garima's blog at http://mommy-in-making.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-chinese-mothers-are-superior.html and it touched a chord. That in turn points to another article where the author talks about chinese or a very strict/constraining parenting style compared to a western or more protective style. After reading all that, please come back here ;).
While the author's views sounded quite extreme, one point she made stood out to me. She said that in their methods of parenting and how they treat their child - "Chinese parents assume strength, western parents frailty". This addressed something that has been running in my mind ever since I started hearing about the suicides by young children for reasons ranging from failing an exam to being harassed at school. By being extremely protective or reassuring parents are we bringing up our children to be so frail that they are unable to face the world on their own, and any criticism or failure pushes them over the edge?
I personally am by most descriptions, a "strict" parent. I bring up my children to clean up their room after play, be polite to elders, and don't tolerate it if my daughter does an entire page of homework wrong due to inattention when she is perfectly capable of doing the same entirely correct in under 2 minutes. Although blindly pushing our children along certain paths might be wrong, it is also very wrong to let them get away with sloppiness because of being afraid to hurt their feelings! I am very vocal with my disappointment, but on the other hand I also believe in showing affection physically and in speech a lot - as this is something a lot of our generation missed out on with our parents. The "I love you"s and the hugs were more understood than said or done out loud and I don't think that's the way it should be. And I have also said "sorry" to my child when I misunderstood something she said or did :).
I have berated myself many a time wondering if I am doing things right. I definitely want to protect my children forever, but they need to be prepared for dealing with the outside world, and I want to equip them well so that they become truly confident people ready to face anything and come out strong at the other side.
Postscript: Above all else, the channel of communication between parent and child must always be open - if the child feels they can share ANYTHING with you, then they will hopefully be able to come and talk to you when something is bothering them.