It is both my inherent nature and my intentional parenting style to be hard on my kids. I harangue them, scold them, pick at their every social or academic flaw, give them extra homework, lecture them incessantly, hold them to impossibly high standards, and push them when they fall short of those standards. I am not demeaning and I am not abusive, and they live happy and easy and charmed lives. But I do bang on them a lot.
But I am also lavish with my praise. Not fake praise, but earned praise. And, yesterday I showered them with praise. Because I went to both of their parent-teacher conferences, and both of their teachers were abundant in their good words about both kids, both academically and socially.
Not that there weren't areas to work on; there were definitely many such places and I took copious notes. (For the record, Jada got all A's except for B's in writing/math/science, and Aaron got all A's except for B's in writing/science.) But by and large I heard described to me two bright, kind, thoughtful, and hard-working kids that are a delight to their teachers and their classmates. It made me feel good.
I in turn was effusive in thanking each of their teachers. Our kids are good but they have their special challenges, and both teachers were aware of those nuances, took them seriously, and worked hard to help our kids through them. I saw commitment and professionalism and concern. And I am deeply appreciative of that. And I am deeply appreciative that I could then go home and sing our kids' praises to our kids directly, so that they could know that even though I harp on them constantly I also recognize that they are doing good and being good.