Why every day should be “take your child to work day”

by Christina Meyer-Jax MS, RD, Tastemaker in Residence

Christina's daughter Ava and son Bennett prepping Christina's baseball treats for Mom's Fox 9 appearance. 

Christina's daughter Ava and son Bennett prepping Christina's baseball treats for Mom's Fox 9 appearance. 

April 28 is “Take your daughter and son to work day”. A well-intended idea for engaging, sharing, and hopefully inspiring the next generation. For most of history “take your child to work day” was every day. Children worked along-side their parents either hunting, farming, conducting household chores, or helping run a small business. By the time they started their own family they had the skill set to actually run their own household. 

Enter modern times where a typical parent drops off the kiddos for “their” day and we bustle off to squeeze 20 hours of work into 8. With sports and activities many parents in America skip over having their children help with dinner as there isn’t the margin for both cooking and training newbie chefs. Dinner conversations (if you have them) don’t usually involve the details of the parent’s day. I know I’ve struggled in making my day of conference calls and meetings sounds remotely interesting to my blank staring children. So how are my kids learning about what I do?

In the past I have brought my kids to work with me. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in a wide variety of settings that have shown them the broad scope of the food world. Some of my work is in media, so they have participated in helping put together segments and have even been on air themselves. Certain companies I’ve worked for put together some pretty amazing programming that engages budding scientists to blooming artists. All good things.

Christina's daughter Ava prepping on the  Fox 9  set. 

Christina's daughter Ava prepping on the Fox 9 set. 

But at the end of the day, what do I need for my kids to see and learn? How to be passionate and productive citizens. This takes more than one day out of the year and it’s certainly not from one good hearted, but contrived day in the office.  

I don’t claim to have the “secret recipe” on how to achieve the end goal of well-adjusted young adults. I do know that one day our kids will need and want to go out and have productive lives.  The training on what gets you there should not to be sacrificed for modern day “busyness”. 

Some days are better than others at the Jax house, but its crunch time on parenting with only 6 more years until the “baby” of the family is done with high school. And as a college professor I have steadily seen a decline in student’s ability to do typical “activities of daily living” over the past 10 years.

My kids won’t be going to work with me this Thursday, but I can assure you we will be celebrating throughout the year by:

  1. Cooking and menu planning. Yes kiddos you need to feed thyself and know how to do it on a budget. Ramen will only get you so far. Ha! And as a dietitian, I strongly believe that to eat healthy you need to know how to cook.
  2. Money management 102. Not just from their own savings account, but how our family budgets, saves, and invests.  We recently started having very open discussions on how we allocate our money. It’s been fascinating to watch how less “entitled” they have become and how wicked smart they are on finding scrappy deals.
  3. Negotiation. It’s an art form kids use very well, but I have recently started talking with them on how that skill is used in the business world.
  4. Service. Our work is meant not only serve our family’s needs, but to help the greater good in some capacity. These lessons come in big and small ways. Wouldn’t it be great if “Bring your child to work day” was a stewardship event?
  5. Ideate and create.  As I’ve been tackling projects at work, I’ve been asking for my kids to help me think differently on solutions. They feel valued and I’ve been getting much better ideas and project results ☺ Plus they see how they can cultivate their own passions and interests.

Really this is only the tip of the iceberg.  In the meantime I’ll be spending the rest of my Sunday “taking my kids to work” by facilitating laundry, garage sale prep, and grocery shopping for the Jax household.  Yup there is good work to be done every day. Let’s engage our kids in it!