In the March-April issue of No Greater Joy magazine, Mr. Pearl includes a fascinating and, for me, thought-provoking article about parenthood.
He says there are essentially two kinds of parents: door openers or door shutters. Referring to door openers as yea and amen parents, these are the parents that open doors of delight for their children. They are in constant search for ways for their children to discover, explore and learn. They view play time as a chance to learn and work as a form of play. Instead of scolding the child for pilfering through the attic and taking apart an old radio, a door opener hands them a screw driver, or the computer so they may research how that radio works and try to put it back together again.
Conversely, a door shutter is referred to as a no parent, or one who adheres to the old belief that children should be seen not heard. He recalls how one of his grandmothers was a yea and amen grandmother while the other was a door shutter. The no grandmother, he says, was pleasant enough, but she had a gift for saying no. She never taught me anything. She taught manners at me, but they didn’t stick because I did not want to please her interests when she was never pleased with what interested me, Mr. Pearl writes.
Mr. Pearl points out that while families should have rules and boundaries, we should never shut the door on opportunities for our children to learn and grow. A no parent, one who never has the time or patience to create opportunities of wonder, often reap rebellious children. Mr. Pearl suggests that if we open doors of delight for our children, we will have less need to say no to their naughtiness. To put it simply, children respect those who show them respect. Aren’t we the same, as adults?
While this all may seem like common sense, this article really challenged me to reflect on my own parenting style. As someone who likes order and is usually too tired to “redo” chores, I admit I am often a no mama. I mean, it is often easier for me to do it myself one time than have the littles help and make more work for me. This is foolish and, I think to some degree, cruel. Would it really be so hard to say yes sometime? I’m willing to bet any extra cleanup would not be as bad as I think. Plus, it would be an excellent opportunity to teach them to clean up after themselves and work together as part of the family unit. In my desire to teach them to keep a clean home, I am depriving them of valuable learning experiences. By taking the extra moments to see what may be living under that big rock, (spotted as we walk to the mailbox) I may find that we not only enjoy ourselves, but I learn something too!
So which are you? As for me, I want to be a yea and amen mama; one who opens the doors of delight for my children.
Italics represent direct quotes from Mr. Pearl’s article- “Be a Door Opener, Not a Door Shutter”, pg. 3 No Greater Joy Ministries March-April, 2012.