To threaten your kids with Hell is child abuse. It’s imperative to understand the difference between ‘education’ and a ‘threat.’

Psychological abuse is, admittedly, an often overused term in our society. Although there is a range in the degree of severity of so-called psychological abuse claims, this one, whilst controversial, is an authentic case.

Religious leaders claim that hell does exist and that they are merely cautioning children of the ramifications they will face if they disobey. They insist it is no different than a parent threatening their children with chores or other punishments; and that it is permissible.

There’s a difference, however, between teaching and threatening. You weaponize your faith when you use Hell, which is violence, as a threat to obtain simple results from your children. Results that could very well be obtained without threatening the use of violence.

Some child psychologists argue that once violence is introduced as a promised punishment for not following an order, whether it’s a belt whooping, a fist to the face, or eternal damnation, that you’re entering into the landscape of abuse.

If you’ve ever been in a Walmart you’ve likely at some point heard a parent exclaim to their child that “If you don’t stop, I’m gonna bust your ass”.

You probably felt disgust when you heard it. You probably made the determination that the parent is unfit.

Now what if they said “If you don’t stop, your bones will be crushed by the fallen Angel Lucifer and your flesh will burn in Hell for all eternity”?

It’s actually, arguably, worse to threaten your child with Hell. But why?

A direct threat of violence is a personal attack. Simplified, it is merely an interaction between two people. No one else is involved. It’s between the individual being threatened and the individual who is making the threat.

When the promise of hell is introduced, you’re looking a something much deeper. You’re bringing an outside force into your threat. The outside force is ‘Satan’, his demons and the whole of Christianity. (Or any other religion that uses threats of violence or hell as a punishment for disobeying.)

These reinforcements you’ve summoned into your threat are codified by an entire religion.  It’s not just you making the threat anymore.

If you threaten a child with swift violence, it’s him or her against you.  If you use Hell as your threat, it’s now your child against an entire system.

The effects of this can be somewhat detrimental and long-lasting.  You’re scaring your children with any threat of violence, but you’re absolutely terrifying them with the threat of Hell and making them feel utterly hopeless.

An Alternative

Nobody is perfect. We’re all human and we’re always looking for answers of how to solve problems. Some people don’t realize the damage they may be doing to their children with threats of violence and hell.

You want your child to behave and to grow into a responsible adult. There is a solution to achieving this without using any kind of threat of violence or hell.

You want to caution your children of potential risks they face from the actions they choose. A child must know that if they wield a fork and put it into an electrical outlet that it has the potential to hurt them. This is called education.

Stick to the facts. I understand that people have different spiritual and religious beliefs and that’s fine, but concentrate on educating your children on the dangers they will face in THIS world rather than a world we don’t know exists or not.

Be cool and collected when educating your children on the dangers and possible ramifications they will face because of their actions. There’s no need to threaten them.

Education and facts are key.

Keep a balance. There’s definitely a need to educate your children on consequences they may face because of their actions. It is also beneficial, however, to speak of the positive things they may receive for their good behavior. Remind them of life’s rewards as well as its punishments. Don’t threaten and don’t bribe; just make them aware.



American Psychological Association

American Humane Association

Mayo Clinic