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Teachable Moments: Teaching Kids Work Ethics

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A Teachable Moment April 2013 – Your job is more important than you think!

Dr. Susan Bartell

April 25th marks this year’s Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This annual event, began in 1993, and was originally known as Take our Daughters to Work Day. Its primary goal was to give girls the powerful message that they can and should work alongside men in all workplaces, including those requiring higher education and advanced training. Now, twenty years later, women no longer trail behind men in the workplace. In fact, some statistics show that more women than men are employed outside the home and they hold positions at all levels (although women’s salaries still lag behind the earnings of male counterparts.)

In its current form, both girls and boys are invited to learn more about a parent’s workplace in order to become educated about career choices and the value of work outside the home. However, there is far more value to it than just this!

· Kids can see first hand, how their moms and dads manage to balance home and work life. Both girls and boys must learn how to do this in order to be successful parents and homemakers as well as productive members of the work force.

· For many girls, the instinct to nurture is primary, but they need to be taught the value of work outside the home—both financially and for reasons of self-esteem. Seeing and speaking to women in the workplace can be part of their lesson. The opposite is true for most boys. They are comfortable outside the home, buy have fewer role models than girls have to teach them to participate in chores and nurture children. Meeting men who are able to do both successfully is important as a boy grows up.

· Being a stay-at-home parent is wonderful if it is what you choose, and it is right for your family. However, many members of the next generation will choose to work or will need to do so for economic reasons. In some cases, dads will be the stay-at-home parent and moms will work. It is therefore important for all kids to learn about a variety of work environments.

· Even if you aren’t able to take advantage of Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, this is a great time to talk to your child about the future. Discuss the importance of education and of having a good work ethic. Talk about the pride a person feels when a job is done well (whether at home or in the workplace). Discuss the importance of contributing to one’s family and to the world by investing time and effort in work—paid and volunteer.

· This is an opportunity to share with your child (in an age appropriate way), what you like about your job and what you don’t. Explain what you might have done differently now that you can look backwards. It is a chance to help your child not make the mistakes you made. It is also an opportunity to encourage her in areas in which you did not receive encouragement.

· On this day, and throughout the year, remind your child that his work in school as a child and teen, as well as all the experiences and part time jobs he has, are the building blocks of a successful future career. Encourage your child to take pride in all that he does and be sure to role model the same in the way you approach your own job.

Dr. Susan Bartell is America’s #1 Family Psychologist. Her latest book is The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask. You can learn more about her at

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