It's time to admit that Take Your Child to Work Day is an outdated relic of 1970s feminism, and we can put the whole thing to rest.

Do you remember that the day started as Take Our Daughters to Work? It was the 70s, and women wanted their daughters to know that they could do anything. Here's what came of that era: Latchkey kids who never saw their parents after school except on Take Our Daughters to Work Day. And, then later, those same little girls grew up to feel intense pressure to put work before kids which ushered in the biggest fertility train wreck in history, with Gen X thinking it would be fine to wait until after 30 to have kids.

So I have a bad taste in my mouth from the era of Take Our Daughters to Work. But then we had the era of boys underperforming. That's right: Boys are doing so much worse than girls in school that it's officially easier to get into college if you're a boy (scores are lower and so are GPAs) and once these kids enter the workforce, girls make more than boys do.

So some probably-drumming, angry, white male decided that it shouldn't just be daughters. It should be sons, too. So now we have Take Your Child to Work.

But here's what I want to know: Why?

This holiday now strikes me as one similar to Secretaries Day, which is a relic from the days when there were no computers and secretaries had thankless jobs and the men who were having sex with them on the side always forgot to thank her in the spotlight for the typing, so there is an official reminder day to buy her a card. That made sense. Twenty years ago.

Which is why it reminds me of Take Your Child to Work Day.

You know what else reminds me of this special day? The Week of the Young Child. Seriously. It was last week. Did you celebrate? Of course you did. Because every week is the week of the young child, because if you don't focus on young children they die. They eat bleach or get bitten by a squirrel or run over by a car.

The reason the Week of the Young Child reminds me of Take Your Child to Work Day is because, at this point, every day is taking children to work. I'm on my Blackberry all the time, and my division between work and kids is very tenuous. This is pretty common for my generation. And I think we're pretty happy with it — or we'd stop. So it's pretty clear to me that we don't need a day for kids being at work because they get exposed to their parents working all the time.

And anyway, do you know how annoying kids are for people who do not have kids? It's already totally over the top how many concessions people with kids get vs. people without kids. My cousin, for example, is a doctor, and when her colleague went on maternity leave early, my cousin was asked to cover for her because everyone in the practice has kids except for my cousin. This is routine behavior in corporate life (I know — I benefit from it all the time at my own company where I'm the only one with kids.)

So what we don't need is a day when people’s kids come into the office, disrupt everyone, eat all the good snacks and use up all the good office supplies. The disruption serves little purpose except to remind people without kids that kids are the center of the universe.

So I think this holiday is BS, and kids understand that they can be anything they want to be, so I don't see a point in dragging them to work. Which is why I didn't.

I ignored the holiday last year. And when I picked my son up at school, he said, “It's Take Children to Work Day. Are you taking me to your work?”

I say, “What? How do you know it's that day? Who told you?”

“My teachers brought their children to school because school is their work.”

What? Is this legal? My kids are in Madison, WI public schools. Surely it is not legal for teachers to bring their own kids into the classroom.

But before I can decide what to do about this, my son says, “I want to go to your work.”

How can I say no? I try to think of a way, believe me. But I don't have the heart.

The problem is that there is nothing in my office. Just some books.

So I buy a bunch of cookies from the coffee shop across the street from my office, and I borrow the white board from Photis and magic markers from Ryan Paugh. And my son draws on the board in between bites of cookies.

He says, “Take Your Child to Work Day is boring, let's go home.”

Maybe this is a victory.

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  1. S
    S says:

    To add, if all she remembers is that we stopped for ice cream during lunch, my daughter will have seen mommy moving, shaking, trying. I will have seen my kid, who I’m bitter over having worked to pay others to be with, she will have seen a part of my life, and my boss will have seen a part of my life. Who would put a negative spin on that?

  2. Traci Wheeler
    Traci Wheeler says:

    Penelope – I read your blog all of the time, but I did not see this post from a few years ago until today. Today is Bring Your Child To Work Day 2012. My two boys came home and told me about the day earlier this week and begged me to take them to work. I had no idea this “holiday” was today and was annoyed that my kids came home from school telling me about it. I am a full-time working mom who is the primary breadwinner for my family. I could not agree with your sentiments in this post more. I commend you for breaking down and bringing your son to work. I did not. So, I will sit here today and feel guilty and like a horrible parent. Stop the madness on this ridiculous holiday!!

  3. Marisa
    Marisa says:

    To each his own. I was a child of the 80’s and 90’s and I loved TYDTWD, my mom was an executive assistant but at J&J Corp HQ and they had an amazing day planned for us and I got to spend time with my mother – I loved being with her. I dreamed of working at a big corporate office and traveling the world and all dreams were inspired by mom and getting exposure to the different departments there. Learning how everything fit together and meeting some executives, getting exposures to what they do even if it was a distribution site or manufacturing hub…it was fascinating to me to learn how all things came together for a purpose<- but that is me. It's not for everyone but I lived into all that and worked hard to get where I am inspired by all of that. I am 34 have 2 daughters now of my own and married a nurse so since I have the liberty of working from home, I feel bad that I can't reproduce for my daughter what my mother was able to share with me. I agree, if there is no program, don't torture your kid ELSE have something planned. YOU plan it. Now, my daughter is 5 going on 6 so EVERYTHING I do is interesting to her and she would LOVE to go to work with daddy…but at a certain age, it's old…I get it, and annoying. If there is no program that will inspire your child, if you do not have a kick ass job or do anything kick ass, spare your child! I also own properties and like to flip so if I had that going on right now (a flip) I'd LOVE to take her with…but I do that on weekends anyways …sooo…I am one of those peopel that are ALWAYS working and my kids know that but I'm BALANCED. I cook every night, I take them to all their activities, I'm actively involved! You can have it all and TYCTWD shows your kid that you really DO do work and YES up to a certain point in time they ARE wondering what the hell you are doing all day and where the hell you are! lol Point is, there ARE circumstances where I feel (and it's only my one opinion) that you CAN inspire young people with this program but it should def be re evaluated and it should NOT be promoted in classes to children because for MOST of them it may not apply…good post for stirring up conv.

  4. Kalenaaaa
    Kalenaaaa says:

    So you’re saying it’s bad for women to wait till they are financially stable and over 30 to have children? 30 is YOUNG, (unless your’e from the hills or an Islamic country). If young women listen to your advice, start popping out children at a young age with NO higher education or career, they’ll end up as candidates for food stamps. BAD advice. Women in their early 20s these days are too immature to be mothers, and too ignorant to pick a good man. Most men don’t want to support women anymore, so telling her to avoid a career and have her children young is putting her on the path to welfare.

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