Thursday is “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” and Forest Park students who participate get an excused absence. The question is: is there value in bringing our children to work, or would they be better off in the classroom?

This program began as “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” 13 years ago. The idea was to show young females many career possibilities they normally might not consider. In 2003, amid cries of sex-based discrimination, boys were included.

As many working parents know, taking your kid to work can be a pain. It’s usually done out of necessity, because the teachers have a training day, or it’s Casimir Pulaski Day.

At many workplaces, children will be bored, or get in the way. So, what’s the benefit?

Well, if you’re a grade school student, a day off from the classroom might be irresistible.

Not only do you get a break from your school routine, you get to spend the day with mom or dad. If that doesn’t sound appealing, think about the educational value of finding out what they do for a living. I have it on the authority of two college-aged daughters that seeing where a parent works is worthwhile.

 I remember the time I took one of them downtown to read some court files and grab lunch.

Unfortunately, as we emerged from the train station a blast of wind and grit hit her right in the eyes. We spent the rest of the workday having various legal secretaries try to remove the grit. They probably became legal secretaries so that they could avoid childcare and medical emergencies, but they finally restored her eyesight.

I also remember the many times my dad took us to his office. Wow, I never knew you could spend so many hours playing with a stapler. My overall impression was: Jeez, my dad has a boring job and his office is the deadest place I’ve ever been.

Thankfully there are parents with more interesting jobs than my father’s or mine.

A local DJ has his two daughters help him man the mikes. It’s great to hear the interplay of dad and daughters during a workday. If focused attention is the greatest gift a parent can give to their child, we could justify taking your kid to work on that basis alone.

However, there is a growing group of educators and parents who think this special day is a waste of valuable classroom time. Some districts are going to mark the kids absent. One Arizona educator said that it promotes truancy.

A Forest Park educator I spoke with thought there could be a value to the experience, provided the parent makes it educational. If the child is just sitting there watching the parent, though, it could be a waste of time.

Which gives me an idea.

Child labor laws prevent us from actually employing kids. But I can think of plenty of “educational” activities for my 10 year-old, apart from playing with the stapler.

I’ll start with having him address the envelopes for the “past due” invoices. When my clients see a child’s handwriting, they’re bound to pay up.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.