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Am I giving my daughter the wrong impression of “work”?

Categories: Career Talk, Parenting & Family, Your life

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We were sitting down for a Friday dinner together and as I yawned, my daughter asked me: “You’re tired, right mommy?” I told her yep, I was pretty tired from a crazy day and a pretty crazy week. She gave me a sweet smile that melted me and said: “Your work makes you tired. You’re always tired after you come home.”

Can’t argue with that. It’s not just work, of course, although if my job gets any more nutty I might need a visit to the nuthouse. (OK, I am joking, so my dear colleagues reading this, you’ll have to deal with me for a while yet.) It’s everything combined, the full juggling act that you’re all very familiar with. Most days, it leaves me exhausted and while I try to be as peppy and energized when I get home from work, I can’t hide it from my fairly perceptive kiddo most of the time.

I’ve always been a proponent of being as honest as possible with kids and not trying to color everything in positive colors. But lately I’m worried that the impression my daughter has about my working is mostly negative. I come home exhausted. I complain about having to do work late at night after she is asleep. Sometimes I work on weekends while she plays near me or in her room and tell her that I’d much rather be playing with her. If I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I told her something about my work that was positive.

To be fair, she loves coming to my office. It’s a pretty cool space, where she can go from scooting to “playing” ping pong to drawing on the walls (most of which are covered in dry erase board paint) to her heart’s content. My workplace is extremely kid-friendly and she considers it a treat to go there, even if I have to go to meetings and she hangs in my office watching cartoons or drawing while she waits.

But other than my office being a fun place to visit, most of what my daughter hears from me about work involves some kind of negative connotation, usually connected to my having too much work or work making me tired. The truth is, my work does make me tired and I have too much of it, but I like working and I derive a lot of satisfaction out of different aspects of my work. I’ve never imagined not working (well, that’s a lie, I have imagined it plenty of times, but what I mean is that I’ve never seriously considered it) and I want my daughter to find a career that she enjoys and gets satisfaction from when she grows up. (Hopefully without tons of stress, but not sure that’s possible.)

So I’m thinking I need to cut down on the complaining about work making me tired. What about you: Do you complain about work or having too much work or being tired because you’re working too much in front of your kids? Do you worry about how they perceive work as they grow up?



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One comment so far...

  • I think I tend to be more or less neutral about work. Sometimes something is getting to me, and then I will tell them about it in a sketchy way - just so they understand the way it may be affecting our time together. But even then, I think I paint it in more of a proactive problem-solving sense rather than a negative waah sense. Except that there have been times when I’ve told them about a phone call with a jerk - and yeah - let’s get real.

    Usually I get my second wind in the afternoon, so I’m not too tired when I’m with my kids. If I am, I’ll mention that it’s been a long day, and engage them in talking about how busy their day was. Even a kid can be tired after a long, fun day. (In fact, sometimes my kids are more wiped out than I am come 6pm.) So that gives them some perspective that while my day was busy and long, it wasn’t necessarily drudgery.

    SKL  |  June 6th, 2011 at 11:40 am

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