EP125: Lessons from the Giving Tree (+ 2 questions to change your relationships)

I hope you like my fuzzy cat ears today.

It’s nice to drop some of the “serious” adult attire and invite the little kid inside of me to come out. 

Feeling like your younger, more enthusiastic self is a simple and easy what to Make What You’re Doing Fun.

Give this a try. Pick your own version of a “mini costume”, whatever you like. 

Here are some easy ideas:

-a funny mustache
-a bee outfit
-sparkly wings,
-or perhaps just a badass dramatic cape.

What’s your favorite mini costume?  Feel free to drop me a note on my contact page or on social media if you’d like to share.

Maybe it’s because I’ve encouraged the kid to come out in me; I’ve been thinking a lot about the children’s book, The Giving Tree.

You might be like me, and you love to give and give.  To me, giving feels great! I love giving backrubs, supporting people, cooking for others, and being there in a time of need.

But do we need to draw the line (yes) and where?

You guys all know the story of The Giving Tree, right?  Well, if you don’t, I summarize it in my podcast, so go listen.

For others that know the story, I ask how you interpret the story.

I believe that The Giving Tree is a story about US.

  • Unconditional love.
  • Sacrificial love for the boy.

Wow, that’s pretty deep as I write it. Did Shel Silverstein mean to rock the world of psychology when he wrote the book? 

I’m actually thinking that US could play a role in solving a lot of relationship issues. Could we, together, as a couple, answer these questions?

Question 1: Will the boy step into the tree’s shoes* (know and feel the giving of unconditional love)
Question 2: Will the tree step into the boy’s shoes** (know and feel the receiving of unconditional love)


**head and heart 

Can we integrate our head with our heart and anchor these centers into our roots?

This seems quite obvious to me now- there is a symbiotic relationship between the boy and the tree, right?

So why do so many adults choke up when they read the story, The Giving Tree?

The title of this NY Times article, ‘‘The Giving Tree: Tender Story of Unconditional Love or Disturbing Tale of Selfishness?’ tells it all.

We perhaps identify with the tree or the boy, and we GET TRIGGERED.

A children’s book pushing our buttons and triggering us. Aha! We know that this means it (the book) is a Spiritual Teacher. Don’t believe me, listen to episode 124.

How do I know that this book is pushing people’s buttons?  Here is a short excerpt from the NY Times article:

Sites like Amazon and Goodreads seem to find the story an affront not just to literature but to humanity itself. “Most disgusting book ever,” said one. “One star or five, there is no middle ground,” declared another. “The Nazis would have loved it,” one man raged, proving that everything up to and including beloved children’s picture books will eventually fall prey to Godwin’s Law.

AYE CARUMBA – there are triggers found in children’s books!? Where are we, mere souls, safe?

We are only safe when we create safety for ourselves.  How? Through boundaries, self-love, and self-care.

I’ll talk about those safety measures in the podcast. I also have an observation on The Observer article below. 

At the end of the podcast, I talk about my pineal gland, “Pew Pew,” but you can’t hear the rocket-ship sound through my computer mic.  So I invite you to listen to A Forest by The Cure. The “Pew Pews” happen throughout, but I played the one around minute 2:11.

Here are the mantras:

  1. What does the story The Giving Tree mean to you?  Please share your thoughts.
  2. Don’t be a stump (or a Martyr)
  3. Help your friends and family avoid actions that will turn them into a stump (unless they want to be a stump)
  4. If you’re a stump (and you rather be a productive tree), re-grow through intensive self-care.
  5. Create boundaries around yourself (and/or your stump!) to protect yourself from depletion.

Watch the full episode here:


The Giving Tree book

NY Times Article 

Observer: Why ‘The Giving Tree’ Makes You Cry (It’s Not Why You Think)

The above article takes a very different view from mine on the book.  The final paragraph of the article “Why ‘The Giving Tree’ Makes You Cry (It’s Not Why You Think)” is as follows:

Here’s what’s fascinating: the book deeply moves adults regardless of whether they view it as extolling the tree’s unconditional love or lamenting the tree’s self-destructive love.

The Observer seems to take a negative view of the tree as if it had acted in a self-destructive way. 

But if the answers to the two questions above are YES, neither one is wrong. 

Neither is right. 

We ARE meeting each other’s needs, we just want to see, hear, understand and judge each other more clearly.

Share this Post!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Sign up to receive Kathryn's monthly newsletter
and get the latest news and exclusive resources.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.