Teaching Work-Life Synthesis To Our Children
by Allison O'Kelly
CEO and Founder, Mom Corps
Did you know Thursday, April 26th is National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day? Originally called Take Our Daughters to Work Day, this educational program was founded in 1993 by Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation for Women to help promote self-esteem among young women. The idea, of course, was (and still is) an excellent one: If we teach our children about their career potential early on, they have a better chance of living fulfilled, balanced lives. As the mother of three sons, I am grateful that the program has now been expanded to include boys. What a great way for children to see how their parents put their talents to work!
I truly hope many of you have the opportunity to take your kids to the office next Thursday. It is important, however, to acknowledge reality—very few companies, no matter how progressive, have the resources to put on a formal career day event. Furthermore, it’s challenging for most working parents to pull their kids out of school for a non-essential activity. That said, I hope you will recognize the day by talking about your career and lifestyle choices to your children. Here are some ways to start the conversation:
- Include your own workplace experiences in your family discussions. My friend Amy starts her family’s dinner conversation by asking everyone to talk about the best part of their day. Her four-year-old talks about getting the coolest swing on the playground while her husband brags on his region’s sales numbers for the quarter. This is a great avenue for children to learn about the rewards, and challenges, of being a working parent.
- Help your child explore careers that match their talents and interests. Kids love to talk about what they want to be when they grow up…help them visualize the path to their dreams. Expose your children to different occupations and career paths through friends, family or neighbors. Use online tools like the Dream Calculator, which lets kids plug in choices like their favorite activities, where they want to live, how many kids they hope to have, etc. The application gives the child a fun report on what they might like to do, career options, and even addresses the challenges of being a working parent!
- Relate schoolwork to job skills. Encourage improved grades in math and science by talking about cool careers in those fields. Your animal lover wants to be a vet? He needs to know that studying hard will help him get that career he wants. Reward improvement with a special “behind-the scenes” field trip to your local zoo or conservatory. Relate hard work to achieving goals!
By creating conversation around career choices and balance you are preparing your children for success as adults. Make it fun, make it relevant, but most of all make it happen!