When the daughter of one of my employees was about eight years old he took her to work at the environmental engineering firm that I owned. Once there she immediately ditched him and latched on to the lone female geologist I had working for me at the time. She took her out with her to take soil samples from a site and apparently had a grand old time in the field and at lunch. Afterwards his daughter talked about her experience nearly nonstop. She became a rock hound and has had an interest in the earth sciences ever since. Today she has graduated with a degree in biology and works for an ecological recovery group. That one experience of going to her parent’s job and witnessing firsthand what her parent did and what others did fueled a lifelong passion within her that was unknown to anyone (including her) before that incident.
I was fortunate in that most of my career I have been either in management or have owned my own businesses. This has allowed me an opportunity to bring my kids to work with me on many occasions. Whenever I was required to work long hours, bringing them to work with me was a great way to spend some time with them and still maintain my responsibilities both professionally and personally. Additionally, the last 12 years as a writer and speaker has allowed my young and now adult children to see the self-discipline and dedication required to work successfully from home with no one looking over my shoulder.
One of the strongest ways a father bonds with his children is through experiences—doing things together. Taking your kids fishing, taking your daughter to dinner, or working together on a project all create unique and memorable experiences that your children will remember for the rest of their lives. Providing opportunities for positive experiences by bringing your child to work with you is a powerful way to help them become familiar with, prepare them for, and even become excited about someday entering into the workplace. Not only does it provide a unique insight into the world their father occupies a majority of his time, but it opens up a new world of experiences that a child may not see on a daily basis. Many children aren’t sure exactly what their father does for a living. They may have some vague idea but really don’t understand what he does on a daily basis. My wife and children once told me how surprised they were when they first visited my firm’s office and saw me interacting as an equal with bank presidents, attorneys, city officials, and powerful real estate developers. It gave them a new perspective on the man who shared their home while he was not in their presence. Since a man’s work is such a big part of who he is, it also gives his children the chance to get to know him better and maybe even understand better why he is the way he is.
This investment in your children can even develop into a family tradition. This is a ritual that can quickly become very important to both parent and child. Baseballs’ Adam LaRoche recently retired from a lucrative career when the team asked him to stop bringing his teenage son to the ballpark so often. Interestingly, LaRoche grew up in big-league clubhouses with his father, Dave.
Additionally, our influence as parents just by the model we set for our children is very powerful. This happens best when our children can watch and interact with us as we work. I cannot tell you how many families I know where the daughter has followed in her mother’s footsteps by entering the same field she is in. I believe I know at least three families where the mother was a nurse and the daughter has become one as well. This even happened in my own home. My wife has worked with special needs children for many years. My daughter followed her into that field for the early portion of her work life. She has moved into a different health care field but ultimately has hopes of returning and using her skills serving that community.
The annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” is a fantastic opportunity to develop a special bond with your child and help teach them some valuable lessons and skills that will help them throughout their lifetime. I encourage you to take advantage of this special opportunity as often as possible. It just might fuel a lifelong passion in your child.
Rick Johnson is a sought-after speaker and bestselling author of 11 books on parenting and marriage. He is also the founder and director of Better Dads Ministries.