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Be a Door Opener, Not a Door Shutter

February 15, 2012
Be a Door Opener, Not a Door Shutter

Sometimes the grandkids come over when I am engaged in study or writing. My office is removed from the living room where the kids will be visiting. When they discover I am in my office, they come and open the door. After I greet them and explain that I must be busy for a little while, they will walk away and be happy as long as I leave the door open. But if I shut the door, they are uncomfortable until they get it open and look in on me. At about two years of age they have the ability to open a door but cannot understand my need to shut it, particularly if they are left on the other side. I have come to see that kids do not like a shut door, especially if it is directed at them.

Think for a moment. How do your children view you—as a door shutter or a door opener? Do they know you as the one who gives them pleasure through opening interesting and exciting doors of opportunity and learning, or do they know you as the one always saying no and shutting them out? You will “Train up a child in the way he should go” so that “when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6) if you are a door opener and not a door shutter.

Don’t be a no person. Be a yes person to your children. The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus is God’s “yea” and “Amen.”

“For all the promises of God in him are yea [yes], and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Jesus is the Yes of God. In him is life and liberty. At his right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). People embroiled in religion, be it heathen or Christian, view God as the No in their lives. They know him through the negative commandments—“Thou shalt not…” To them the Christian life is a series of shut doors—things one cannot do lest he be damned. Their God is distant and out of reach, critical and displeased. He must be placated with contrition and religious works. Such people cannot love God. Their guilt and humility cause God to be paramount in their lives but always out of reach, though their lives are dedicated to appeasing him. Their desperate fervency causes them to appear to be the most devout among us, but no one who knows them well is drawn to their God, for even they are not sure of his love or forgiveness.

Children raised by “religious”-tempered parents are the most miserable of all. So many doors are locked to them. I am not suggesting permissiveness or worldliness; I am talking about the many little things of life.

I knew both of my grandmothers well. One I remember with the utmost fondness, and the other I could have done without. I never did like her. I cannot remember one pleasurable feeling in her presence. She was never mean or angry. She was always proper and pleasant. But she had a gift for saying no. I knew that when I went to her house I would be in the way—as in “children should be seen and not heard.” She never said such, but that is the way she made me feel.

“Don’t put your feet there.”

“Take off your shoes.”

“Stop making that noise in the house.”

“Don’t you ever comb your hair?”

She did have a beautiful garden that fascinated me, but she slammed the door shut when I tried to walk in it. I remember her as a door shutter. She never taught me anything. She taught manners at me, but they didn’t stick because I did not want to please her in her interests when she was never pleased with what interested me. I know that is immature, but I was immature at four … and seven … and nine … and twelve.

When I got old enough to know better, I spent time with the other grandma who was ready with a laugh and a “Have you ever heard of …?” or “Come over here and look at what I have been working on.” Many a time my yes grandmother said, “Can you help me with this?” I can think of no sweeter words, nor have I known a more interesting person, for she was interested in me. I always wanted to please my yes grandmother. I didn’t care one way or the other about my no grandmother. I think I went to her funeral, but I can’t remember. I do remember quite well my yes grandmother’s funeral, the one who opened so many doors for me.

My daddy was a door opener—a yes daddy. When I asked if I could use the scrap lumber he brought home from the job, he said yes and offered me hammer, saw, and nails as well. When I asked if I could have the red paint that was left over, he found some old brushes and blue paint to go with it. When I went to the job with him and met someone for the first time, the stranger would say something like, “So you are the boy Ed is always bragging about. Heard you can throw a knife like Tarzan.”

When I was fourteen, I suggested I needed a horizontal bar in the backyard. My daddy hired someone to make it and he and I dug the holes and concreted it in place. It became the center of my after-high-school activity. When I remember my father, I remember a yes daddy—a yea and Amen daddy.

How do your children view you? On this one point hangs all of your parenting. I can say with certainty, if you have a good relationship with your children and they want to please you, it is because they think of you as a yes daddy or yes mama—a door opener. If there is tension and they are stubborn and rebellious, it is because they know you as a no daddy or no mama—a door shutter. In our next digital magazine (April issue) I will discuss how you can become a door opener, not a door shutter. (See the article Yes Daddies and Amen Mamas) In the meantime, think of ways to open doors of delight, and you will not have as many occasions to say no to their naughtiness.

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8 comments on “Be a Door Opener, Not a Door Shutter”

  1. Thank you so much for this reminder! I find myself saying no to my children so often. I catch a look at their dissapointed faces, and my heart feels heavy. You are so right about the feelings we have toward door closers. I will pray and ask the Lord to show me ways I can be a door opener! Can’t wait for next month’s article….

  2. Excellent article! 100% true , I lived it.
    I grew up in a good home, my folks took us to church and raised us morally and for that I am thankful. They never had a close personal relationship with the Lord, I learned to walk by faith alone through my believing Uncle and Aunt next door. Praise the Lord for that too.
    My Dad especially was a door opener. He always allowed us kids to try anything he was doing. Even as a girl he taught me to run heavy equipment and chainsaws along with him. He always enjoyed our presence and we knew it. Teaching us life as we went along with him. To this day my three brothers and I (were all married with kiddos) all have a great respect for our dad, even though he made mistakes along the way. He built in us a confidence that has taken us through some tough times. His doors were always open to us and to anyone who came knocking. To this day if there is ever a place I like to be, it is still in the presence of my “door opening dad”.

    Happy and Thankful Daughter,
    Sonja 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been really beating myself up lately that I’m failing at so much. But this is me – always the door is open, day or night, if my children, especially the teens, want to talk to me. My 17 y/o recently thanked me for being available at 1 am when everything congealed in his head and he wanted to talk – he knew I would be awake, and if not, I’d wake up for him, whatever it was he wanted to talk about. You have encouraged me that this is basic to my parenting – not just one of the options available. I may fail in other areas, but if I have their hearts, they are not far behind.

  4. Thank you so much for this article and the entire issue of this magazine. I have been struggling lately with a lot of emotions and turmoil in my life, there have been several deaths close to me within a two week period. I have been very discouraged and beaten down, this article and the entire issue has brought me back to reality. I needed a good kick in the pants! It is great that God uses such willing people to minister to those they have never met and speak to us, just what we need at just the right time. Thank you again so much, I am going to be a more responsive, awake, caring, listening and loving parent!

  5. When I read this article, I wondered which I have been for my 5 children and I feared that I had been a door shutter. As this article opened my eyes I began to pay attention to what my normal inclination in a situation would be and I think I’m more of a door opener than I thought. I always tried to make sure I kept the “no’s” balanced with “yes’s” so that my kids didn’t feel like it was pointless to ask for things or ask to help. I am very happy to say that today was definitely a yes day and I am happy to have the knowledge that what I did today encourages and teaches my children as much as any school lesson we could have done because today I showed them how important they are to me and to the order of our lives here together. This article has reassured me that even though I had no role model for the right way to be a good, Godly mama, I am still doing good and right things in my children’s lives. I will be looking for more ways to open doors.

  6. I love this post! I have a second chance to be a yes gramma!! I was to much of a \’no mommy\’, my husband was a \’yes daddy\’. It caused conflict! Wish I had read this when I was younger! Thank God for second chances!! Love being a gramma!!

  7. Great article ,so many of these truths I can see as I relate to my own children if we look at things in the light of eternity it brings it into sharp perspective as to how we should be relating to them I pray to God that I will always be remembered as a door opener and not a door shutter