TAKE OUR DAUGHTERS
TO WORK— AND TAKE OUR SONS TOO
Take Our Daughters To Work Day is an effective way to motivate our daughters to fulfill themselves. Aiming for fulfilling careers is still full of trepidation and negative messages for many girls as they watch their mothers struggle with balancing careers and parenting. They may wish their mothers were at home with them more and may not understand that a good career is much more than earning a salary. When parents take their daughters to work, girls see their parents in a position of power, respect, and responsibility, which enhances both admiration by daughters as well as the likelihood they'll see their parents as appropriate role models.
SEE JANE WIN
Perhaps the Ms. Foundation selected the book See Jane Win for Take Our Daughters to Work Day because it celebrates the discovery that our daughters can become fulfilled, successful women. Only a generation ago, we women were told that we found our identity only through the men we married, thus we were advised to marry the American Dream. Now Jane can live the American Dream and marry that dream as well if that's what she chooses.
In our See Jane Win study of the childhoods of over a thousand successful women, these women were more likely to identify with the parent who had an interesting career. If Dad was engaged in a positive interesting profession and Mom wasn't, Dad would often be chosen by the girls as a role model. In some cases, Mom facilitated her daughter's identification with Dad by referring to how intelligent he was and what important work he was doing. However, Mom’s return to school to further her education often encouraged her daughter to select a career that required a longer period of education, like medicine or law. When Mom worked outside the home, her daughter often admired the balance that her mother brought to her life, thus she expected to have a career of her own. Even women who had single mothers often commented on the admiration they held for their mothers’ ability to accomplish so much despite her being the only parent.
Most mothers miss their children when they’re working. They feel some guilt at not being with their children. However, by modeling independence and responsibility, working mothers are fostering their children’s independence and responsibility. Children respect their mothers more because they value themselves. Daughters (and sons) also gain confidence by taking responsibility for doing more for themselves rather than depending on Mom to do it all for them.
Most women, and some men, too, struggle with the guilt of playing so many roles. Their guilt may not go away, but they can become better at managing it if they stop apologizing for it and pat themselves on the back instead.
The women's movement knew that women’s careers were about more than salaries. Careers deliver self-esteem, independence, choices, and fulfillment to women. Your daughter deserves all those, and when you take her to work, show her your accomplishments, and explain your own satisfactions that you derive from your work, you and she will feel better about the importance of what you're accomplishing.
SEE DICK WIN, TOO
Although boys grow up assuming they will eventually be breadwinners, they, too, can benefit from seeing their parents in the workplace. Whether they visit their mother or father's place of employment, they will see their parents in a very different light. There's no better way to convey status to a parent than having their children see how important they are to others. Boys may, in fact, see dads they'd like to emulate or at least respect after they see the responsible roles they play in the workplace. Parents’ credibility is enhanced when children see them as powerful people, and their workplace draws a much more effective picture then.
BE A ROLE MODEL OF SUCCESS
Walking into your home at the end of the day can give children an image of your workplace role and your work satisfaction. Even when you're tired, add a little energy and optimism to your return home, and your children are more likely to assume that your work is positive. Your children need to know that work helps you to feel good about yourselves and permits you to make contributions to society. As parents, you need to tell your children that you take pride in doing quality work and in fully earning your salaries. Explain that although you may be tired at the end of each workday, your weariness comes with the satisfaction of accomplishment. You can design an achiever image which will help your children develop a good work ethic.
Don’t apologize to your children for your careers. Instead, emphasize what good role models you are and what important work you do. Both your daughters and sons will take new pride in your accomplishments and their own, and despite the pressures of work, even supermoms and superdads should find some time for fun and laughter if they are going to be the excellent role models they’d like to be.
©2010 by Sylvia B. Rimm. All rights reserved. This publication, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.