Originally Posted by Animal Mother
I disagree, I don't think it rises to the level of sexual or physical abuse, but it certainly does qualify as abusive behavior. "I really, really believe its true" can't be a defense here any more than it could be a defense in a "spiritual" marriage of a 12 year old to a 65 year old.
Teaching children that the world is only 6,000 years old, and all the attendant indictments of critical thinking and evaluation necessary to maintain that belief can't help but have a long lasting detrimental affect on the child.
I'm not arguing it's not detrimental. I'm saying that that it doesn't rise to the level of physical or sexual abuse.
I'm also arguing that you can't really have freedom of thought without allowing people to be wrong - and if they are wrong, and tell their children what they think, and we treat that as abuse - we're basically saying 'you can't tell your kids what you think', which could have a huge chilling effect (were it actually law, say). This is not to say there's no situation in which telling children false things (even if the person doing the telling truly believes those things) would be abusive, as there certainly are - but a threshold of 'Tell your kid something untrue, even if you believe it' is a bit too low for me. It's more context dependent than that.
Like I said before - plenty of people think Nero fiddled while Rome burned. If they tell their children that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, are they committing child abuse simply because they did that? I don't think so.
I think they may certainly be teaching their children a framework that includes believing things just because someone said so - and as you noted, that will certainly be to their detriment in situations that require critical thinking, unless the child is able to learn critical thinking on their own. There has to be more than the mere fact of telling a child something that is incorrect before I would consider it abuse, though.
Edit: For instance, if they tell their kid that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and if they don't clean their room Nero's going to come back, set their room on fire, and fiddle while their room burns with them in it - that's a different story.