Today is "Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work" Day. I honestly can't remember if I ever participated in the April 23rd holiday because for me, I often visited my mother's place of employment. She owned it. Like many small businesses in a small town, my sister and I were the kind of kids that would help out on holidays, weekends, and after school. In fact, we started a tradition of working the Christmas Eve Day shift together before ensuing with our holiday festivities.
The holiday started as a campaign to get fathers to care about their daughters, to get them to envision a future for them that wasn't just typing or getting married. Later on, they amended it to include mothers and sons. It's sort of amazing to me how the focus has changed over time. It's no longer about showing your children that they can work -- that's a given -- today the focus is much more about integrating work and family life. Rather than dropping your kid off at day care or school, the challenge is to integrate him or her into your work life. It's a luxury that not everyone has access to. After all, you can hardly bring your son or daughter to work if you're putting in less-than full time at a fast food counter. Instead of being about the option of working, it's about parenting.
It would be easy to balance the roles of working and parenting if there were more family-friendly policies. It's legal to fire someone for leaving work early to pick up a child. Right now the balance is shifted totally in favor of the employer and less in favor of the working parent. It could start with seven days of paid family leave. But that would be just the beginning.