Have you read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein? I always thought, as a child, that it was a lovely lesson in giving and being selfless. We read it to kids at summer camp as councilors to teach about sharing and as a parable of Christ's sacrifice for humanity.
I pulled out my old ratty copy the other night to read to the Sproglette. As I turned the pages I grew more and more horrified. That poor tree. Just kept giving and giving while the boy kept taking and taking. Eventually the tree is only a stump and yet is so proud to be able to give the old man (that stole her apples, her leaves, branches, limbs and trunk for his own selfish gains) a place to sit his tired, selfish ass down.
Funny, now I don't see this as a parable of god's love for his children anymore. It really rings as misogynistic - how a man can take and take from his wife or mother and never have to give anything back. The ideal woman would be happy just to have sacrificed everything for her man/child.
Not this woman. Not this tree. I'm going to teach my kids that we don't use people for our own personal gain. That we take care of ourselves. That the best friendships and relationships are full of giving and taking. That we don't expect something for nothing. That even when we are given gifts we are gracious and say thank you and are appreciative. That we never take the wonderful people we have present in our lives for granted. We say "I love you" to each other everyday, many times a day.
And The Giving Tree? Not so sure what to do with it now. I don't want to give it away in case it might infect someone...