Talking to Kids About Work

Help them understand your job

Personalize your position. Share details about your job so your kids understand what you do all day. If you're a postal worker, talk about how you sort and deliver letters. If you manage a restaurant, tell them about the breakfast rush and the daily specials. If you can, take them to your workplace to meet your coworkers. Christine Petersen, chief marketing officer for Trip Advisor, brings her 5-year-old daughter, Charlotte, to her office regularly. "She comes every Friday at 4:30 after her ballet class, when I'm finishing things up," says Petersen. "She gets to see my desk, look at where I've placed pictures of her and her artwork, and visit my colleagues. I think it makes her feel like she's part of my work community."

Handle the tough stuff. Many working moms I know share a similar nightmare with a single, recurring phrase. Here's mine: "Zoe's mom plays with us in the afternoon at the park. Why can't you?" What do you say when your child makes the dreaded, unfair, but understandable comparison between you and her friend's at-home mom? "Use the opportunity to turn the question back to your child and get at the root of what's bothering her," says Hayward. When Avery asked me why Zoe's mother is around more than I am, I asked her, "What do you think about Zoe's mom staying home?" She told me, "I'd like you to be home all day too," and it became apparent that her complaint was less about having a parent like Zoe's and more about wanting to log more hours with me. So she and I brainstormed and figured out that we could spend some extra time together at a special early-evening picnic later in the week.

Parents Are Talking

Add a Comment