There is a better way.
We can do better than metaphorically beating our children into submission. We can be joyful in our parenting and instill joy in our children while still providing them with appropriate discipline. We can ensure that our children have a solid work ethic and will strive to achieve without denying them them childhood fun. We can teach them to maneuver in the world by providing just the right guidance at just the right time as they grow and learn. I call this technique Pathfinder Parenting. I first learned about pathfinders during the Vietnam war when my cousin Bud was in the military. He was a pathfinder and explained to me that it was his job to go ahead of the troops and keep them safe. He would assess the situation and determine how everyone could get to the right place, with the least risk of injury or death. This fascinated me. What an important job. I have thought about it ever since and once I became a parent, I realized this was my job. Growing up has its risks and I understood from the time my children were born they would get hurt along the way. I knew that I had to allow them to take some risks, but sometimes the risks were just too great, so I would need to alter their path. The important part is that a parent knows just when to intervene, when to offer gentle guidance, and when to allow the child to learn on her own. This can be accomplished by thinking of a simple traffic light. If the consequences of your child's actions will just be minor inconvenience or discomfort, think of it as a "green light issue" and stay out of the way. If the consequences will be more severe, resulting in greater loss or future problems, think of it as a "yellow light issue" and offer guidance. But then allow your child to suffer the consequences and learn. If the consequences could be death, a significant health issue, or life-altering results, think of it as a "red light issue" and intervene quickly and assertively.
Extremes are almost never the right way to go.
We should view parenting the way we view all things. Extremes are usually not the best way to proceed. Think about dieting, sports, religion, politics. The answers are always somewhere in the middle. We need a balanced approach to parenting that considers the future, yet allows us to savor the moments of the present. We need to help our children to grow and learn to navigate through life's challenges in a way that will ensure a positive future, with the least amount of psychological harm.
To learn more about Pathfinder Parenting, read Drive: 9 Ways to Motivate Your Kids to Achieve.