By Scott Hackman, Family Business Advisor, DVFBC

The holidays are full of events around giving and sharing whether you are giving presents from under the Christmas tree or sharing stories about family members. This is a season when people give gifts.

This Christmas my wife and I started a practice with our three-year-old daughter. With the obvious outcome of this holiday being the acquisition of more stuff for my daughter, we found an opportunity to help her learn the value of getting rid of the excess and experience the joy of giving. I invited my daughter to pick toys she no longer wanted, in order to share them with someone else.

I explained, “This is the time of year when we give away stuff, because we are getting the chance to open presents.” At first she was not to keen on this idea. It became apparent by her attitude and tone of voice, “I don’t want to give any of my toys away,” she said to my wife and I with a sense of frustration.

Thankfully, my wife and I began laying out the options of toys that our daughter could give away this holiday. After less than five minutes her attitude had changed and she began to enjoy the selection process for choosing toys to give away.

The fun outcome has been more space in our home and more enjoyable time spent with my daughter playing, “you’re the mommy and I’m the daddy.” This is when she proceeds to tell me what to do… I’m not sure what that means about how she is observing our marriage, but that is for another blog, I am sure.

According to a recent article, Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children, toddlers show a greater emotional reward from giving than from receiving. This suggests that we might all be better off with more giving in our lives. Furthermore, the research found that children were happiest after “costly giving,” where they had to sacrifice something of their own in order to give a gift.

Giving as Leaders

As leaders in family and business, we have been given a tremendous opportunity to influence a culture and sometimes create a new culture based on shared values. This opportunity is only possible by catalytic events that teach all participants about new possibilities in “building family muscle.” This is a practice for us to discover more guiding principles as we climb the exciting but also treacherous terrain of leadership in both family and business.

What can we get rid of to create more room for:


What is one gift we can give to someone else? Of equal importance, I think: what is a gift you can give to yourself?



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