How do I feel noticing negative traits in my children? Um, most of the time, that they come by them honestly via how their parents act.
When I have to deliver a less than positive message I wrap it in as much love and empathy as I can; so, recently my son has been acting out in school and I said something to him like, “I love you, just as you are, I love you. Your behavior, though, wasn’t ok. What I’m hearing from you is that you were very frustrated and that makes you feel angry, is that right? Yeah, I’d be angry and annoyed too if kids were doing that to me. We can’t control our emotions but we get to control how we act; so, when I’m angry I’ll try and get myself out of the situation, maybe sit somewhere else or if you need help to figure out how to do that in that situation ask a teacher. Does that sound like something you can do? Can you think of anything else you could do?”
If it was a daughter who acting flirty or promiscuous I’d have a similar conversation; but, a lot would depend on age and financial purse strings. If it was a teenager we’d talk about loving herself and not needing attention from men and work towards finding things she for which she will feel proud of herself. We’d talk a lot about what real love looks like vs. superficial “feeling good.” If it was an adult child who was living with me I’d still try and talk about those things but it would be more about her finding those things for herself.
In both of the above examples we’d also find a way to incorporate prayer.
Regarding accepting limitations: Life is a marathon, not a sprint. We are meant to enjoy the work of improvement. You will never be “done.” There will always be personal improvements that can be made, there will always be people doing better than you at any given thing.
I have found that focused intensity is the best way to improve. So, I might say, for right now my main priority is addressing my stubbornness. I’ll figure out how to know, in the moment, I’m acting stubborn. For me, I know I’m being stubborn when I start arguing instead of listening. The next step is figuring out how to stop it; so, I’ll tell myself that when I realize I’m acting stubborn instead of continuing I will either ask to postpone the conversation, “Hey, I’m not really open to this discussion right now; can we talk after dinner?” or I will decide to keep my mouth shut. I might not hear but I won’t make the situation worse. Then I’ll pick a timeline, probably weekly and then at the end of the month, to see if there is improvement or tweaks that should be made and if I’ve come far enough that I should focus on something else or if I still need practice.
The emotional reaction that causes the stubbornness might NEVER change. You may always feel annoyed, angry, burdened, or whatever it is you feel; but, it’s your actions that reflect your Christian heart.