Where we live we have a good view of the playground. I was on our deck a few days ago watching some of the kids playing when I observed something.
Two of the kids were about 6 or 7 years old, a boy and a girl. The mother went out and called them to come home. The little girl jumped off of the slide and ran over to the mother. The boy yelled back, "I'm not ready!" The mother called back, "It's time for dinner and daddy will be home soon." The boy yelled back, "No, I want to play!" Again, the mother called for the boy to come home. The boy yells, "No! I don't want to!" The mother snaps and yells to the boy, "If you don't get your butt home, I'm going to tell God to send you to Hell!" The boy looks at his mother and yells back, "And you're going to go too, for using God's name in vain!"
I'm sure the boy's mother didn't appreciate me laughing (and I laughed pretty hard over that), but I couldn't help it. However, once I went back inside, I got to thinking about what I had overheard.
Many of us (especially the "old-timers") probably remember hearing the term, "Putting the fear of God into your kids". I've heard it more than I care to remember — especially in reference to how I raise my kids. According to some, I'm a bad mother for not making my kids go to church. Now, when we lived in California, I did try to go to church. I've tried being Christian, Catholic, Mormon, etc., but nothing seemed right for me. None of those religions made any sense to me. Now, I'm not trying to be offensive to anyone, I'm just being honest. But I'll write about that another time.
What I'm getting at is this: Is it right to use religion as an aid when threatening your kids? To me, that seems wrong. I don't get mad and tell my kids that I'll have Lilith send them to the nether regions if they don't behave. If I'm going to threaten my kids with something, it will be getting grounded or losing computer use. That seems to work better than anything else, at least, it's a threat that I can guarantee will happen. I would love to know how this woman plans to follow through on her threat.
It was quite obvious the boy knew that his mother's threat carried no weight, otherwise he most likely wouldn't have responded the way he did. I'm even willing to bet that the mother has used that threat quite a few times and it became obvious to the boy that his mother's threat wasn't going to happen. See where this is going? Every threat my husband and I have given our kids has been one that we can make happen.
The other concern I have about that mother's threat is whether or not it could distort her kid's (both of them) view on their religion. If the boy pointed out that his mother took God's name in vain, does that mean she just taught her kids that it's okay to break one of the 10 Commandments? The third) commandment states, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."
From what I understood (correct me if I'm wrong), the mother did just that and inadvertently taught her kids that it's OK to do the same. I can visualize that kid going to his church and telling his Sunday school teacher that his mommy says she can have God send him to Hell if he misbehaves. Yeah, I'm sure that would go over really good (I'm being sarcastic, here). If I was running a church, I wouldn't be too happy to hear a little kid tell me that. I'd find it a bit disturbing, wouldn't you?
Now, I'm not telling y'all how to raise your kids, they're not my kids, so it's not my place to do so. However, many of us parents can say that it's a good idea to be careful what you say to your kids (or around them — my 5-year-old son repeats everything). Your words might come back to haunt you, or be a total backfire.