Every day as a parent is a chance to role model behavior. And not just behavior, but attitude, reactions, feelings (and how to handle them). I've said it before but it’s still true: children are sponges and they take their cues from us. Whether we like it or not, parents (and really any adult that interacts with children) are role models.
My three year-old son Eli has recently discovered that he loves to ride the metro. Last week he woke up anxious to take the metro somewhere, so I suggested he take the metro with his nanny and visit me at work. His eyes lit up and he agreed immediately. I kissed him goodbye as I left the house and said I'd see him at the office a few hours later.
When I met him at the lobby of my building, he ran to greet me and give me a hug. We walked around the office, rode the elevator, met my coworkers, and even went into my project space to check out the post-it supply. While the whole visit lasted no more than hour, I soaked up the chance to show him around to my friends and share a piece of my home life with my work life, and vice versa. We said goodbye, Eli left with his nanny, and I went back to work.
The thing is, this visit has stuck with me, sort of buzzing around my head like a fly I can't shake. What made it feel so special? Sure, it was exciting to see him and show him off to people - after all, I am incredibly proud of him and enjoy being with him.
But more than that, I realized this visit was notable because it marked the first time I've been able to show Eli what one version of work can look like. As he makes the transition from infant to child, I see that, in fact, it's one of the first instances of Eli being old enough to comprehend what work is and who does it.
Every day with Eli I strive to role model polite manners, friendly behavior, and thoughtful choices. This visit to my office was my first opportunity as a parent to try out role modeling what it looks like to be proud of my career, to do work that's meaningful, and to show him one example of what his own work could look like one day.
As of right now, Eli's professional goal is to be a construction worker, mainly because he wants to wear a hard hat. And maybe that's what he'll become in the end. No matter what he decides, it’s an exciting parent milestone to mark my first opportunity (although certainly not my last) to show my son what a healthy relationship with work looks like.
Consider me a role model in training!