Thursday, April 24, 2008

Take Your Kid to Work Day - Pro or Con?

Well, today is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, an event I've long thought a brilliant conception--especially when it used to be just for girls. But I get it, I get it, esp. when it's a case of boys seeing Mommy at Work. According to the official literature, the day is designed to be more than a career day:
For over 15 years, the program’s development of new, interactive activities and partnerships has helped us in taking girls and boys to the future they dream of.

This year's program theme, “Making Choices for a Better World,” centers on "encouraging girls and boys to consider the options they have and make choices for a better world. This means making choices to serve the community and one's family, to care for one's body and health, and to make better choices that impact our environment, as well as one's future."
Cool. And how can you argue with that. But still, I can't help but feel the language lost something in the translation from daughters to daughters and sons--and you know what an advocate I am for including boys/men in the feminist conversation.

Helaine Olen (co-author of Office Mate: The Employee Handbook for Finding and Managing Romance on the Job and a contributor to the forthcoming book The Maternal Is Political) has a different bone to pick, and I'm not sure how I feel about her critique. Helaine rails against it in a piece in Newsday, writing:
If the past is any guide, several million children nationwide will accompany their parents to work today, participating in the annual rite of spring known as Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Moms and dads across the United States will allow their kids to play in their offices, running through cube farms and "assisting" at cash registers, all in the name of breaking down the mystique that exists between work and family.

Yet in a world of home offices, moms on the playground taking business calls by cell phone, and dads answering queries on their BlackBerries at school events, it's quite likely that children are all too aware of the importance of paid employment to their parents. What they really need is a lesson in the value of taking time to kick back and relax.
She goes on to call for an official event to teach America's children about the importance of downtime, concluding: "We can call it Let Your Daughters and Sons See Mom and Dad Do Absolutely Nothing Day. Any takers?"

Now, I'm not a parent (yet) so maybe I'm off kilter here. But I still think the event is a good idea. What do y'all think - especially you parents out there? Is it a good thing, or a pain? Did it lose something in the translation when it switched to include boys? What's been the experience of folks who've done it?

If I had a kid and I took them to work today, they'd be spending the entire day in Starbucks, watching mommy type. Thrilling, no doubt.

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