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Bringing Home the Office

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By Christina Christian

Some 65 percent of Americans admit to bringing their work home. Working extended hours from the comforts of the kitchen table or couch is a reality that has steadily grown over the past 20 years.

A phenomenon known as “the stress of higher status” (Schieman, 2010), it necessitates that professionals bring work home as many as five days of the week, which most reason that the encroachment of work on family and personal time is a means to an end. It simply is the way to advance careers and, thus, maintain or improve professional status.

But what, if any, impact does this have on the family structure? Are parents modeling behavior that is beneficial to their children?

Each time parents bring work home, they are modeling (among other things) responsibility, self-discipline and a strong work ethic — three very valuable traits. Unfortunately, research investigations show that our youth are not acquiring, nor applying, these and many other characteristics desired by colleges, universities and human resource directors.

An ACT research investigation found that 60-70 percent of today’s high school students are not well-prepared for college. Likewise, colleges and universities are expressing concern that students are arriving ill-prepared for the social/emotional demands of life on their own; the result is an average college graduation rate of only 50 percent. Not surprisingly, human resource directors simply are refraining from hiring this younger generation, proclaiming that there is simply not enough talent from which to choose.

While there certainly is some value to bringing business home, merely modeling a strong work ethic is not enough to produce a generation of committed, holistically-educated, working adults. But what if you must bring work home? How can you balance work and family responsibility in such a way that it benefits you and your child?

A simple way to meet both your parenting and work obligations is to ensure that every family member — even the dog — has a household job and understands job accountability. Often parents, specifically mothers, take on the responsibility of their job and everyone else’s in the household. We actually convince ourselves that it is easier if we do the work ourselves. This generally results in mom “helping” with school work; washing, drying, and putting away clothes; and ironing, cooking, packing lunches and double-checking homework to see that it gets to the school. We help so much that our children fail to learn a fundamental truth about life: You have to WORK! Working is not optional. Nor is accountability.

When we spend 18 years helping children with the household work and upwards of 12 years sharing their job as students — homework, projects and meeting with teachers to negotiate grades and the terms of their assignments — we prevent them from developing critical thinking skills, responsibility and a work ethic that ultimately will lead to college graduation and career stability.

Bringing the office home can become a family affair that requires everyone to responsibly carry out the duties of work and school … thus providing the training that society demands of its citizens, colleges demand of its students and employers demand of their employees. Proverbs 22:6 reads, “Train up the child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

If you train your children to rely on you to help in every area of their lives, they will not depart from … you.