Take Your Kids To Work Day is approaching on Thursday 4/23. Doyin Richards thinks it’s a very important day for kids and families, and hopes you feel the same way.
I had the pleasure of watching my parents at work when I was a child and I was completely fascinated by it. When my brothers and I were young, my mom stayed at home with us and then went back to work as an X-Ray Technician at a local medical facility when I reached Kindergarten. I was probably 7 or 8 when I went to her office for the first time – and I was amazed by how she could use all of that high-tech equipment (it was high-tech at the time, anyway) with such ease and precision. She would tell me what each button would do and what each procedure meant. Granted, I wasn’t allowed in the room while she was working with patients – but I remember thinking, “Wow, she is SO cool.” To put it differently, even though she wasn’t a doctor, she was my version of Doc McStuffins.
To see my mom – a black woman – excel in a field where there weren’t many other blacks or women proved to me that I could do anything. My mom hates excuses. “The economy is bad…the man is keeping us down…It’s hard out there…etc.” It’s all nonsense. My mom taught me that if you want something, you go for it, and don’t let anything get in your way. When I saw how good my mom was at her job, I admired her even more – and I wanted to find that same level of excellence in my future career.
Then there was my dad – a professor at a local university in Massachusetts, and I’ll never forget when he invited me to attend one of his lectures (I was 13 at the time). He was so meticulously prepared and had unwavering confidence. Since he was born and raised in Sierra Leone (a west African country), he spoke with a heavy accent that, quite honestly, can be difficult to understand if you haven’t heard it a million times before like I have. I worried that a room full of college kids would ridicule him.
That didn’t happen.
As soon as he stepped to the podium, all sidebar conversations stopped and all eyes were focused on him and his words. I remember thinking that my old man put the entire class into a hypnotic trance or something. Afterwards, students shook his hand and wanted to meet me. They said, “Your dad is amazing. I hope you grow up to be like him someday.” That moment in time further solidified my belief that I chose wisely in terms of a role model and hero. He’s hard-working, ridiculously intelligent, funny, kind, and he wants to make the world a better place. Even today I think that if I could be even “sorta like” my dad, I’d be very happy.
I’m sharing these stories because spending time at work with my parents had a profound impact on me. I strive to bust through obstacles and excel like my mom did. I strive to have the grace, intelligence, and coolness like my dad has. Seeing them in action at home is one thing, but seeing them at work – places where they spent a significant amount of time – was priceless. I wanted to be just like them.
If your employers participate in this awesome day, I hope you’ll take them up on it. It builds confidence, helps foster creativity, and shows kids that even mom and dad have bosses. The best part is you can demonstrate that you practice what you preach at home. Do you interact with your co-workers with kindness and respect? Do you shake hands firmly? Do you look people in the eye while speaking? Do you offer opinions in meetings? Do you have a clean workspace? Do you microwave cod in the break room? (Don’t ever do that, by the way)
Our kids admire and look up to us – and if they think we’re great, they’ll probably think that what we’ve chosen to pursue for a career is great as well. Show them everything, answer all of their questions, and let them know that everything we do, they can do, too.
I left corporate America in August 2014 to work at home for myself (which means everyday is “Take Your Kids To Work Day”), and my 4-year old daughter asked me, “Daddy, what are you doing?” I told her that I was writing an article and that I really enjoy sharing my thoughts on fatherhood. I sat her on my lap and read her a paragraph of what I composed – none of which I figured would be remotely interesting to a kid her age. Afterwards she smiled and said, “I want to write like you, Daddy.” I smiled back and told her that she can do whatever she wants to do, but I’ll happily be her writing mentor if she wants to go down that often-frustrating, writing-block filled road (I’m kidding, it’s actually quite enjoyable).
It’s nice to focus on what men are doing to help families instead of what we aren’t doing – and Take Your Kids To Work Day is one great example. It’s a way for dads (and moms) to bring families closer together by showing that work isn’t some mysterious place for grown ups to go for a large portion of the day.
We’re all Doin’ Work, so let’s show our kids how it’s done.
Photo courtesy of bigstockphoto.