Today's Post is from my good college friend (and former coworker) BJ Krug. He is a Stay-at-home dad and freelance writer. You can find more of his writings on his blog: Mommy Is At Work
The Giving Tree
I can't remember the last time I read The Giving Tree. It's been well over a decade. We didn't have a copy when I was growing up, and I don't have lasting impressions from it.
I open the book. Published just shy of 50 years ago. I had forgotten it was a Shel Silverstein book.
I read. I'm shocked at points. I'm moved at others. Its value as a mataphor for parenthood leaves me in turmoil.
Have I done this to my parents? Did I, and do I still, take and take, hurt and destroy, with nothing to offer in return? Will the 7 month old boy sitting on the floor next to me, currently playing with his socks and talking to himself do that to me in turn? What does it mean if that's true? Is it truly "better to give than to receive"? Probably. Almost Definitely.
But does that mean I should just accept what I'm offered even though I have the ability to ask for more?
What are we telling our children when we read them this story? What behavior are we implicitly modeling for them?
Maybe I'm on the wrong path altogether. Maybe the book is simply a model of unconditional love, not necessarily parental relationships. Does this book still have value? Does it enable unloving behavior, and encourage people to hang on to a bad relationship when they would be better served by finding someone who will show them sacrificial love in return?
I try to remember how it was used as a teaching tool in my childhood. "Don't forget to show gratitude."
And, "It's never too late to show someone you love them."
Can't we do better than that? Can't our children's books, and our own lives model a better, healthier view of love and relationships?
I think I'm glad I didn't have this book as a child. I'm glad I don't have lasting impressions. I hope not to read it again for a decade or more.
I don't think I will buy this book. I don't think I want it in my son's life while he is growing up.