It's time to admit that Take Your Child to Work Day is an outdated relic of 1970s feminism, and we can put the whole thing to rest.
Do you remember that the day started as Take Our Daughters to Work? It was the 70s, and women wanted their daughters to know that they could do anything. Here's what came of that era: Latchkey kids who never saw their parents after school except on Take Our Daughters to Work Day. And, then later, those same little girls grew up to feel intense pressure to put work before kids which ushered in the biggest fertility train wreck in history, with Gen X thinking it would be fine to wait until after 30 to have kids.
So I have a bad taste in my mouth from the era of Take Our Daughters to Work. But then we had the era of boys underperforming. That's right: Boys are doing so much worse than girls in school that it's officially easier to get into college if you're a boy (scores are lower and so are GPAs) and once these kids enter the workforce, girls make more than boys do.
So some probably-drumming, angry, white male decided that it shouldn't just be daughters. It should be sons, too. So now we have Take Your Child to Work.
But here's what I want to know: Why?
This holiday now strikes me as one similar to Secretaries Day, which is a relic from the days when there were no computers and secretaries had thankless jobs and the men who were having sex with them on the side always forgot to thank her in the spotlight for the typing, so there is an official reminder day to buy her a card. That made sense. Twenty years ago.
Which is why it reminds me of Take Your Child to Work Day.
You know what else reminds me of this special day? The Week of the Young Child. Seriously. It was last week. Did you celebrate? Of course you did. Because every week is the week of the young child, because if you don't focus on young children they die. They eat bleach or get bitten by a squirrel or run over by a car.
The reason the Week of the Young Child reminds me of Take Your Child to Work Day is because, at this point, every day is taking children to work. I'm on my Blackberry all the time, and my division between work and kids is very tenuous. This is pretty common for my generation. And I think we're pretty happy with it — or we'd stop. So it's pretty clear to me that we don't need a day for kids being at work because they get exposed to their parents working all the time.
And anyway, do you know how annoying kids are for people who do not have kids? It's already totally over the top how many concessions people with kids get vs. people without kids. My cousin, for example, is a doctor, and when her colleague went on maternity leave early, my cousin was asked to cover for her because everyone in the practice has kids except for my cousin. This is routine behavior in corporate life (I know — I benefit from it all the time at my own company where I'm the only one with kids.)
So what we don't need is a day when people’s kids come into the office, disrupt everyone, eat all the good snacks and use up all the good office supplies. The disruption serves little purpose except to remind people without kids that kids are the center of the universe.
So I think this holiday is BS, and kids understand that they can be anything they want to be, so I don't see a point in dragging them to work. Which is why I didn't.
I ignored the holiday last year. And when I picked my son up at school, he said, “It's Take Children to Work Day. Are you taking me to your work?”
I say, “What? How do you know it's that day? Who told you?”
“My teachers brought their children to school because school is their work.”
What? Is this legal? My kids are in Madison, WI public schools. Surely it is not legal for teachers to bring their own kids into the classroom.
But before I can decide what to do about this, my son says, “I want to go to your work.”
How can I say no? I try to think of a way, believe me. But I don't have the heart.
The problem is that there is nothing in my office. Just some books.
So I buy a bunch of cookies from the coffee shop across the street from my office, and I borrow the white board from Photis and magic markers from Ryan Paugh. And my son draws on the board in between bites of cookies.
He says, “Take Your Child to Work Day is boring, let's go home.”
Maybe this is a victory.
en españolLos diez mejores consejos sobre los deberes escolares
Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
Here are some tips to guide the way:
- Know the teachers — and what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
- Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
- Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
- Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
- Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
- Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
- Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
- If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.