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Parenting As A Giver or Taker

September 12, 2023

Parents want to do the best job they can in raising their kids. They want their kids to be smart, resourceful, confident, competent, have and be good friends, etc. Parents want their kids to succeed in school, extracurricular activities and in life.

So what does it take to be successful? We know that mothers and fathers judge their successfulness differently, but what else is involved? Parenting styles contribute a lot to the relationship between parent and child, as well as the child’s future relationships. One formula for success in a business setting is: doing what you love + doing what it takes = success. The often cited ingredients of success in a lot of arenas are hard work, talent, and luck. While those may apply in the business world, how do they apply to parenting?

“There are takers, who are always trying to serve themselves; matchers, who are always trying to get equal benefit for themselves and others; and givers, who are always trying to help people.”

Adam Grant

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist and Wharton School of Business professor. He wrote the book Give & Take. Within its pages he defines the relational tendencies of what makes for successful people through reciprocity. He explores givers, takers and matchers, their traits, and how they interact with others. The video below is his TED talk based on the book.

So what do your interactions with others teach your children? Your children watch how you engage in relationships with your spouse, relatives, friends, as well as strangers. Are you teaching them to be a giver and please and help others, or to be a taker and get all they can from others?


  • Please others, sometimes to a fault
  • Can have difficulty receiving or saying “No”
  • Helps with no strings attached
  • Flexible
  • Want others to be happy
  • Well liked by others
  • Encourage others and say, “Thank You”
  • Take responsibility for their own personal growth without blaming others
  • Listen with acceptance, not judgment

“Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.”

Irma Kurtz


  • Always receive, rarely give
  • Create paranoia in those around them
  • Over the top criticism about details
  • Manipulate or intimidate givers so as to gain the most possible
  • Selfish and want things their way
  • Want to be happy, regardless of how others feel
  • Joy-killers and dream-killers
  • Create drama that needs attention thereby draining energy from others
  • Drain energy from others by always complaining
  • Insecure, so they seek approval thereby draining energy from others

“Givers advance the world. Takers advance themselves and hold the world back.”

Simon Sinek

Results of Givers

Givers create an environment of acceptance and empowerment. Their desire to help others makes others feel welcome, supported and like part of a team. Givers enhance relationships around them. They generate good will and create a desire in others to keep coming back for more.

Results of Takers

Takers create an environment of every one for themselves and disempowerment. Their desire to get whatever they can from others creates paranoia. Takers degrade relationships around them. They generate negative will and create a desire in others to stay away.

This is not about codependence. Some would say that givers are codependent because their actions are solely about pleasing others. That is not the case when boundaries are used well. Professor Grant notes the importance of limits (boundaries) in his book, such as the 5 minute rule.

Which one are you? A giver, matcher or taker? Would your children agree? Would your spouse agree? Would your friends or coworkers agree?

If we can all agree that our kids tend to emulate their parents, are you raising your children to be givers or takers?

Todd Call
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