On one hand, I very much support Rav Shalom Arush’s Chazal-based recommendation to use your issues with your children as your mirror. For example, if your child is rebelling, then examine your heart and deeds to see whether you are rebelling against Hashem in some small way.
This requires self-introspection and a willingness to look at the less-than-wonderful parts of yourself. (Knowing all the while that regardless of what you find, Hashem still loves you very much.)
On the other hand, I criticize many current chinuch methods precisely because they are so nitpicky against parents (particularly mothers). They apply invasive scrutiny to the parents in an effort to dig out what the parents are “doing wrong” so as to correct the parents’ behavior and thus, correct the child’s behavior.
On the surface, both seem to require a great deal of scrutiny and are critical of the parent, blaming the parent for the child’s behavior.
So what’s the difference?
The Truth—without Natural Human Bias
These biases can be based on your cultural or ethnic background, on their instinctive impressions regarding your personality (do they have preconceived notions of quiet bookish people or of fun-loving extroverted people?), on your behaviors (which might be innocent or even good, but press the “trigger” of whomever you are consulting), and so on.
This is true across the board. And I’m no exception either.
But when you ask Hashem to help you figure out what you need to work on in yourself, as reflected by your child’s behavior, you are more likely to get the correct answer.
Unlike human beings, Hashem has no prejudices against different backgrounds and ethnicities, He doesn’t get “triggered” due to previous bad experiences, and does not prefer one personality type over another—He made them all Himself.
Best of all, Hashem is All-Seeing and All-Knowing, which your chinuch adviser is not.
You Get the Message Delivered in the Right Tone and Nusach
And I’ve seen others have this, too.
Even if the messenger delivered the message compassionately, something inside you just couldn’t let it through.
You weren’t ready, it wasn’t explained in the way you needed at that time, their delivery was all wrong for you, the splicing pain of the message overwhelmed the message itself—or whatever.
Sometimes, the messenger is mostly right, but the truth of the message is wrapped in that person's misconceptions about you and your situation, making it hard to dissect what you need to keep and what you need to discard.
But when you ask God for the message, you tend to get it in the “tone” and “nusach” that you need. You also get the right amount, not so little that you dismiss it and not so much that you feel overwhelmed by it.
Also, Hashem is Truly Loving. He loves you more than you love yourself, more than anyone else could ever love you. So you are getting the message without any ulterior motives or misconceptions on the part of the other person.
Your flaws and faults and bad character traits are all FROM HASHEM.
They aren’t “you.”
No matter how many time you were called to task based on a particular flaw, no matter whether you were nicknamed “The Terminator,” no matter your high school class voted you “Most Obnoxious” in your graduation yearbook, and no matter how obvious this flaw is…it isn’t you.
It isn’t your fault.
Hashem put it there.
Either He designated you to be born with it OR He designed you to respond to certain life events (as chosen by Him) by developing those particular flaws (again, flaws chosen by Him).
These flaws and the process of rectifying these particular flaws are The Reason you exist in this lifetime.
This is critically important.
(I need to constantly remind myself of this, too.)
When a chinuch adviser starts picking you or your spouse apart to figure out what you’re “doing wrong” that is causing your child to behave however he or she is behaving, it is ends up being this critical, shame-inducing, nitpicky negative spiral that never seems to end.
When you do it with Hashem, it becomes objective. It’s no longer about you and whatever the chinuch adviser or “experts” or pet psychological theory thinks is wrong, but what needs to be polished up according to The One Who Created You and Your Problem in the First Place.
You are now looking at a beautiful and pristine diamond (you!) that merely has a piece of gunk (your flaw) wedged between its sparkling edges, whose gunk simply needs to be carefully carved out so that the beautiful and pristine diamond can regain its original exquisiteness.
In this sense, your child’s problems are not your fault.
Your child’s problems are not your child’s fault either.
Even if your child’s problems are your fault—maybe you were indeed abusive, which drove your child into self-destructive or criminal behavior—it’s all set up by Hashem for you to fix as best you can.
And you can.
Good-Bye Shame and Mortification!
It depends what that flaw is, but when dealing with deep-seated flaws being reflected at you by your children’s behavior, it can be pretty cringe-inducing.
Yet Hashem already knows all about you. He SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED you with those flaws, whether you were born with them or whether you developed them in reaction to life events. Either way, that was His Plan. So He knows. It’s you who is in denial of certain negative aspects within yourself, not Him.
So no need to hide it all from Him...just bare your soul!
Just Admitting Your Flaw Starts the Process in Motion
(Or sometimes, it’s only the first baby step in an endless number of baby steps.)
At that point, you and the adviser often feel the need to sketch out a plan of action (which often needs to be re-evaluated and amended—repeatedly). This plan may or may not be effective. It can even be harmful.
But with Hashem, it depends.
Sometimes, just acknowledging your flaw (especially if it was gruelingly cringingly excruciating to acknowledge) sparks an immediate change in your child’s behavior.
Sometimes Hashem does most of the work, sometimes you do, sometimes it’s equally hand-in-Hand—whatever.
He’ll let you know how much you need to do beyond the Confession part of things.
But regardless of what path you’re supposed to journey on now, the mere act of acknowledging your flaw to Hashem sparks a powerful process that can’t happen any other way.
Hope that clarifies things.
For a concrete step-by-step example of how this process works, please see Chinuch and Cheshbon Hanefesh: How It Works.
May we all succeed in raising our children and ourselves to polish our diamonds to perfection.