It blows my mind that people use eternal punishment as a way to make their children behave. I read on facebook this morning the sentence “I love that no one can punish better than our Lord!” talking about threatening her children with the idea that “Jesus watches you all the time” and that he’ll punish you if you misbehave.
I don’t have children so I might be out of my element here.
But the way I look at it is based out of how I felt being told as a child that Jesus was “always with me”.
My grandma told me that “Jesus lived in my heart”. and I screamed, and cried and begged her to get him out, because I was terrified of having a little tiny man living in my body. Of course the idea of that is ridiculous, but how scared I felt was very real. I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old when that happened, because my grandma was still living in Nashville, she moved away from the city when I was 5 years old. My family loves to tell that story as a joke whenever I am around.
Now, that was the nice sweet version of “Jesus is always with you”, and I was terrified. I cannot imagine how scary it must be for children to be threatened with eternal punishment. Not to mention the extreme amount of guilt that comes along with being told you are ~always being watched~ there are so many rules against everything. What if you do something wrong on accident? Which, as humans we tend to make mistakes. If Jesus is the ultimate punisher, won’t he be very strict?
Won’t that guilt and fear carry over into adulthood? (yes) Why should you be a good person because god is always watching? Why not be a good person because it’s the proper thing to do?
I’m no expert on parenting… but isn’t that just wrong? To scare your child like that?
I like to think that the way Lyzz and Chris parent Annabelle is a good starting point for “If you misbehave you will be punished.” Instead of teaching Belle that she is going to upset Jesus, they teach Belle that Mom and Dad will be very upset. That she has hurt Mom and Dad’s feelings. Belle will be legitimately upset if you tell her that she has hurt your feelings. She will cry and cry and cry like you spanked her (which they don’t have to do because she is sensitive enough to be upset at the idea of upsetting you.) She’ll even say “I’m sorry.” sometimes hug you. The point is that she is genuinely sorry. Not because she’ll burn for eternity but because she has hurt someone that she knows. Now of course sometimes the 3yr old “I don’t care attitude” comes along and that’s where harsher punishments are needed like taking something away, not doing something for her etc etc.
I’m just trying to process the idea that god is the ultimate punisher. Which I mean isn’t a new idea.. but the idea of applying that to your parenting… Blows my mind.
For “all the good” that religion does (which can be disputed. Another post for another time.) it sure does have to be very scary to be effective.