As parents, we want to do the best job we can in raising our kids. We want our kids to be smart, resourceful, competent, have and be good friends, etc. We want them to succeed in school, extracurricular activities and in life.

So what does it take to be successful? We know that mothers and fathers view their successfulness differently, but what else is involved? Parenting styles also have something to do with it, right? One approach more geared for the work environment is: doing what you love + doing what it takes = success. In regards to parenting, succeeding in that way can still involve massive amounts of frustration. The often cited ingredients of success are hard work, talent, and luck. Again, while those may apply in the business world, how could they apply to parenting?

Adam Grant (here and here), organizational psychologist and Wharton School of Business professor, wrote the book Give & Take. Within its pages he defines the relational tendencies of what makes for successful people at work. He explores givers, takers and matchers, their traits, and how they interact with others.

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 please and help others, or to 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

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. Not so when one uses boundaries. Professor Grant notes the importance of limits (boundaries) in his book such as the 5 minute rule.

So which one are you, a giver or a taker? Would your children agree? Would your spouse agree? If we can all agree that our kids tend to emulate us, are you raising your kids to be givers or takers?


Todd has been a therapist for over 20 years in a variety of settings. An unconventional therapist who tells the truth, Todd has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, and authored his first book, Simply Relate.

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