When you were a kid, did you know what your parents did for a living? Do you know now?
I’ve always made a point to try to talk to my kids about what I do. As a mostly stay-at-home dad for the last 6 years, I think maybe it’s been as much about my own quest for identity as it has been my desire to share my life with my kids.
Growing up, I was very lucky to know what my mom did for a living. When I was in early elementary school, my mom was in school too. You see, my mom was 16 when I was born and returned to get her university degree once I was in school. I got to go to university classes on days when there was no school.
When my mom graduated and “got a real job,” I felt very lucky to get to go to her office on days off school. I learned to file and learned a lot about teamwork and work ethic from my mom. I want my kids to learn as much from me as I learned from my mom.
There’s just one problem. I play on the Internet for a living.
It was easy for me to understand what my mom did for a living. She remunerated the province for the implementation of 911. She basically made sure that people had the right house numbers for the 911 system to work.
So how do I explain to my kids what I do?
My son constantly asks if he can help me build webpages. I’ve tried to indulge him, but his wireframing skills are pretty mediocre. I mean, for a 6-year-old, they’re great. But there is no way to physically implement his designs. If there was, I would, and honestly it would be crazy. But there’s not much of a monetization model for that sort of thing.
The other day I asked a kid in my son’s class what his dad did for a job and he told me, “he leaves for work with one shirt and he comes back with a different one.” So either his dad goes to the gym before or after work, or he’s a male exotic dancer.
I think it’s important for kids to know what their parents do. I was once at conference when a speaker asked why we want to do a good job and I said that I wanted to do a good job so that my kids would be proud of me. It’s interesting to me. I spent the first 20 years of my life trying to make my dad, a man who was fundamentally disinterested in my life, proud of me. And now I’ve spent the last 6 years trying to compete with Dora the Explorer, LEGO Ninjago, and Peppa Pig for the attention of my children. It’s a struggle.
Growing up, I didn’t have anyone to “look up to” from a career standpoint. Partly that was because I wasn’t super interested in some of those jobs, but partly this was because those adults weren’t super interested in their jobs either. So, I try to show my kids that having pride in the work you do is important. It’s one thing to want your kids to be beautiful, or good at sports, or smart. But I want to raise children that recognize that hard work and determination leads to success.
I want my kids to be proud of my work that I do, so I make sure that I’m proud of the work that I do.