We hate it when anybody is accused unjustly and there are those who
say God is cruel and vindictive.
They say it because God said that anybody who chose another god above him would be punished "to the third and fourth generation" (Ex 20:5). As a result, yes, God is charged with being severe and unjust because he punishes children for something they did not do. I hear it frequently and there seems to be a case against God.
Before you blame God so easily, look at the facts. Think of the law of cause and effect and let us understand better what happens out here in the real world. Parents who want to be free of restraint, ignore the effects of their choices on others and may well cause suffering to their children "to the third and fourth generation" (Ex 20:5).
Their children may be unnecessarily impoverished because of bad parental management, lessons of self-restraint may not have been taught, wrong associations and friendships have not been curbed, poor time management means wasted opportunities. And so on. You can think of many impediments.
Like Adam and Eve, who chose another god above God, the parents gave the false god a mandate to govern what they, themselves, should have governed. That false god has every right to claim what they gave him.
So what happens if a child of a misled family ‘turns over a new leaf’ and takes the other option? Does he or she suffer because of what the parents did? Often the legacy of bad parenting persists through several generations but these children have broken the law of bondage and the trend is towards God.
Paul put it this way: "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price ..." (1st Corinthians 6:19,20).
We have maligned God without cause when actually it was our God who paid for us to come back to him through his Son and Jesus paved the road, "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God," (1st John 4:15). Please, please do not malign the very pavement on which you walk to God.