Magazine article Work & Family Life

Talking to Kids about the Work You Do

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Talking to Kids about the Work You Do

Article excerpt

Do your children have a good understanding of what you do at work? You might be surprised by what they actually think.

In her Ask the Children study, Ellen Galinsky found that most moms and dads said they enjoyed their work-but more than half of the kids she interviewed were under the impression that their parents did not like their jobs.

We need to tell our children more about the kind of work we do, and we need to share with them the good things that happen on our jobs-not just the stresses.

Talk to kids directly

Moms talk a bit more about their work than dads do, says Galinsky. But both mothers and fathers tend to do this talking around children, not to them. The result is that kids get their ideas about the work world from observing their parents and overhearing bits and pieces of conversations.

So, whether we like it or not, they learn a lot from us. But if we do not talk to kids directly about our work, we run the risk of their forming impressions based on misunderstanding or misinformation.

Be explicit about the choices you make as you navigate your own daily work/family balancing act. For example, parenting expert and author Helen Cordes suggests saying to your kids something like, "Your play is important, so I'll be there-but then I'll need to work some this weekend."

Here are some more ideas:

Let kids visit your workplace, if possible. It will give them a mental picture of where you are during the work day. They will know who you're talking about when you mention your coworkers. If a visit is not possible, take photos of the inside and outside of your workplace, and point out where you do your job.

Give young kids props so they can play out work scenarios. Children love to dress up and act out different roles. Listen to what they're saying when they're "riding on the train" or "being the boss," and you can pick up on clues and clarify any misunderstandings.

Offer details. Talk to older kids about training programs you are attending, new software you are learning and work-related subjects you're eager to learn more about.

When guests visit your home, ask about their work. This is a great way to casually give kids information about different occupations.

"Point out various parents your kids know who have different work/family situations," says Cordes. …

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