294. Taking Your Children to Work

As a teacher, I spent my working day among children, and as a parent, when I got home, there were children there, too – sometimes even some of the same children. I was active in my daughters’ Brownie troops. And my younger daughter spent fourth grade in the school where I taught, and made friends with some children who’d had me for second or third grade, or were having me for fourth grade. At home and at work, there were always children nearby.
But many people have jobs that don’t seem to have much to do with children. Adults may work with people who would rather not be around children. They, themselves, may rely on the daily chance to be away from children for several hours. Their jobs may be ones that can’t be done when children are around, or ones that, for one reason or another, children shouldn’t see. Some children get bored or otherwise negatively affected by seeing what some adults do for a living.
But if it can work, it’s nice, occasionally, for children to see how their parents spend their days. Whatever their parents do for a living affects children’s lives. Parents come home at the end of each work day, and the way these adults behave then is often strongly influenced by what has happened at work. There’s often conversation at home that refers to things that have happened at work. And work is where most parents get the money that determines what the family can afford.
Some parents, like me, don’t have to do much explaining. I took my older daughter to work with me once, when she was four years old, and she saw that I spent my day with children. That may have stirred up some feelings of jealousy; if I was going to spend the day with children, why did I need to leave home? But I think she understood pretty well. And I think that day was good for my daughter and for my class. It gave them some insight into the life of one adult who was important to them.
But even with a very child-oriented job, it wasn’t easy to mix my parenting with my workday roles. My mindset and behavior at work was different from what it was at home, and it was somewhat disorienting for everyone involved for Daddy to be called “Mr. Blue” and vice versa. I was very happy, at the end of the day, to take my daughter home and just be Daddy. And it was a relief, the next day, to go to work and just be Mr. Blue. I think it had been educational for all the
children, but I was glad to get things back to normal. I imagine that there are similar and different challenges for those of you who have less child-oriented jobs. Some of you may occasionally come to school to explain your work to your child’s class, but would rather not take your child to work and try to explain to your child what you’re doing, or explain your child to the people at work. But one way or another, it often does some good to establish this little bridge between two parts of your life.

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