Givers and Takers

elderly man helping woman on walker

Givers and Takers

There are givers in the world and there are takers. People who give freely without expectations, and people whose first question is always “What’s in it for me?” Most of us aren’t totally at either end of the spectrum, but the analogy can simplify one’s word view. After a few too many personal experiences with takers, I came up with my own little fantasy: If only (how many sentences start with “if only?”)–if only the givers would hold out for other givers in their relationships, the takers would have no one left. They would have to put up with other takers, or change their ways a bit.

If you are a taker, cut that out.

If you are a giver, please pay attention: Do you ever find yourself totally exhausted by the demands of some perfectly capable adult who demands more of you than any child ever did? Do you feel powerless to do anything about it because–well, if you don’t take care of the _______ (fill in the blank) it won’t get done? You do have choices; they just aren’t always the most pleasant ones. You can sit back and let less get accomplished. Okay, you won’t leave a baby screaming in hunger. But those dishes can sit for another half hour without anyone calling the health department.

This can feel impossible, but it is a choice. I dealt with a person who wouldn’t take care of some child-related issues I felt were important. These were not things that would get him charged with neglect, but they did contribute to the children’s feeling of well-being. I angrily and resentfully stepped up to the plate. And I complained to a mental health counselor who said “You are choosing to not let those children suffer.” I do feel it was the right choice. And regarding it as a choice distinctly improved my disposition.

I am still a giver. Because I choose to be. But I now have a better recognition of my limits. My life is primarily filled with other givers these days. I don’t have the time or the inclination to pander to people who don’t contribute their fair share–whether it be effort, time, or resources. And if every giver followed the same path, those pathological takers among us would have such a shortage of victims. At least that’s my theory.

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