As a parent, I say plenty of ridiculous things. Tongue–tied, I call my children by the wrong name. Dazed and confused, I forget why I sent junior to bed from the lunch table. I cover my mistake by asking him to restate what he did wrong to deserve the time alone in the first place (!). And occasionally, I have hashed out some decree as a consequence that was way too severe and over the top– mostly because I was tired and some other child was the main reason for my short fuse…
The best example I have ever heard of this “over the top stupidity” was given to me by a dear friend. As a freshman in high school, she came home way past curfew. I suppose my friend had been pushing buttons in other areas too, because when her mom came to her hopping mad, she declared that her dear daughter would be grounded for the rest of high school.
Isn’t that silly? I mean grounded for a week, maybe a month…ok. Losing privileges or some sort of consequence was definitely necessary…but for all of high school??? Obviously this mom was doling out a punishment way harsher than she really intended and said something stupid in a moment of anger.
But you know what? Even though the mom recognized (even by the end of that day, years later she would admit) that she had said something ridiculous, she felt bound to it. She eventually apologized to her daughter (a year later) but said that she had to stick to what she said…so yes…her daughter stayed grounded throughout all her high school years because she was late for curfew once as a freshman.
This reminds me of a story in the Bible. This dude Jepthah was super pumped about a battle. He promised God that if he won the battle, he would sacrifice a burnt offering of whatever came out to greet him first upon his return home. God gave Jepthah victory, and when he got home, the first thing to walk out his front door was his only child, a daughter. Even though he is grieved greatly because of his rash vow, he goes on to kill her. Read it for yourself in Judges chapter 11. There is some crazy stuff in the Word. Here’s a guy willing to kill his own flesh and blood over some rash vow he made.
But how many times do we as parents kill ourselves over the dumb rash vows and fast tempered threats we make in front of our own children? “If you…one more time…then I’m gonna…” And whatever follows afterwards is generally no good.
Folks, just let it go.
If you find yourself the victim of your own stupidity…just admit you were wrong to say it to your kid. Ask their forgiveness for your short temper. Go ahead and give them a rational and just consequence. But don’t slay yourself and those around you that you love dearly over some silly vow you made! Just drop it and move on. You have thousands of opportunities to prove you are a parent of your word every week. One dumb threat that you have to go back on does not make all that crumple.
And as for Jepthah, I think he was a victim of some serious misunderstanding. God would have given him the victory– with or without that vow. If Jepthah had known God to be the Father and full of lovingkindness like He is, Jephthah would have asked God to forgive his rash vow and made some other sort of sacrifice instead.