A Community Newspaper for the way we live

Paula Olson, The Northwest Connection

Have any of you thought that “Take Your Child to Work Day” ought to be “Take Your Child to Work for a Few Hours Day” instead? Especially for the younger ones? More than a few hours and the kid appears to be a bit bored and the parent feels distracted.

But what you both get out of it is a chance for your child to see you in a role other than parenting. Your children get to be observers on the sideline and watch the action of the game. And they see others taking you seriously. They see you interacting with adults, not just adults who are other on the playground, coaches at soccer practice or teachers at school.

At home when I invent and work through choreography for classes I teach, I invite my elementary age son to follow along. Quite simply, he responds by interfering. He likes to create his own dance moves (which I encourage) but generally he ends up rolling around on the floor under my feet and trying to break dance while I try to avoid breaking my neck.

I volunteered to lead an aerobic dance station at his school’s Family Health Night, leading three- or four-minute songs with lots of movement designed to raise our heart rates. When he came to my station he enthusiastically jumped in and to my surprise, followed my direction. I even corrected some of the kids’ movements as we were jumping around and he followed that, too!

What I took away from those few minutes is that he saw me in a teaching position rather than simply a mom role; he saw me leading other kids and parents who stopped at my station in the gym and he respected that. He took me seriously!

We occasionally visit my husband in his office, and while our son hasn’t accompanied him on any department meetings or sales calls, he appreciates the environment in which his dad works, he discovers the type of the projects his dad works on, and gets the idea that his dad is out there earning a living and earning respect from his clients and colleagues.

Whether you’re in an office environment, load cargo at the pier, do rounds at the hospital, grade wood on the river, operate heavy machinery, counsel couples, write novels, sell product, manage inventory–whatever it is, let your child observe you in action in some aspect of your job.

Maybe your opportunity presents itself when your kids can see you running a half-marathon, volunteering to be on the auction committee, organizing a moms’ group meeting, running a book club, participating in outdoor boot camp training, or another hobby that you take seriously and enjoy participating in. Whichever thing it is, your child has the chance to take you more seriously and in the process learn more about the world that awaits him or her.

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