Talk to Your Kids About Your Work

Another five minute fatherhood. So one of the things I’d encourage you guys to do is talk to your kids about your work. And a lot of us have abstract jobs and so we might resist educating our kids about how we make money or what happens to us at work. And I think this can really subtly, but profoundly over time, separate us from our family team. And this really hit me once back when Cora was sort of a brand new, this question and answer site. I remember somebody asked a specific question to two billionaires. I don’t know why they asked, but they asked, hey, how do you guys see educating your kids?

And a guy who was actually well known as a billionaire, got onto Cora and actually wrote something about how he’s educating his kids and he said that the most important thing he says he believes in educating your kids, he used two words. Demystify work. And that really hit me. He said that a lot of kids that grew up, they they’re in school and they don’t really understand how the whole moneymaking process works. And a lot of fathers don’t talk to their kids about work. And so they live in a very separate world.

Their kids live in an educational world, the dad lives in a vocational world, and these things don’t ever sort of come together. And so your kids, as they’re getting older, they don’t understand how work works, right? They don’t get it. They don’t know what you do during the day. They don’t know how you make money for the family. And a lot of dads feel almost good about the separation. They’re like, yeah, that’s my thing, and when I go to work, I have my own identity, I feel like it needs to be separate from my family and this stuff is really complicated anyway.

And I would say, man, as your kids are getting older and have the ability to understand what you do, get out the whiteboard and show them exactly how you make money. Demystify what you do at work. Oftentimes you can benefit this process by bringing your kids to work, introducing them to actually how things work in your job. But I would encourage you guys, talk about your work, talk about your clients, talk about your wins and losses. Talk about your goals for work, whatever’s going on there, really talk to your kids about it. Help demystify. If you have a big corporate job, talk about this big corporation and what it does and where you fit in the process and what your goals are in the future. If you own a business, talk about what it does, how it makes money. Demystify what happens at work.

And especially as your kids are getting older, this will really help them not only relate to you and understand how the family team is being provided for, but this also is a critical part of their education that they’re not going to get at school. And so I really encourage you guys to do that and become more of a team and really process what you’re doing to provide for the family with your team by talking about what’s happening to you at work.

Yeah, and one thing I would say, or two more things I would say is on the demystifying work thing, first realize that we live in a world where work is probably more abstract and disconnected from real life kind of tangible human needs, I guess, if that makes sense, than we’ve ever had in human history. For most of human history, the work was tied to feeding yourself and cultivating what the thing was to feed you, right? Or build shelter, the human needs were very basically tied to work and they are now, but they’re tied financially with capital that then you use the capital to give you the shelter or the food. So it’s like one step connected, a lot more abstract.

So be aware of that, because then I think that’s how kids are going to see through the lens of they’re the opposite of abstract, right? So they’re thinking through that of what, I can’t connect the dots. Two, work backwards from something that you have produced. That’s what I try to do with the kids, I know it’s easiest for them to understand things that are tangible, they can hold or they can see, that’s been produced. So at least for their age now I don’t tend to bring them in on here’s how emails work, even though that’s most of my job. Right now, I tend to bring him in on hey, here’s a book, hold this, most of the time when you see me on a computer, dad’s doing something related to this, right? And here’s a video, I mean, and you work backwards of like, okay, mostly when dad’s doing something with a video or a camera or a light, it’s because I’m trying to do this.

So kind of work backwards from the thing you’ve produced. And I’ve seen that’s been helpful for the kids to do that. And then it’s fun to hear then the kids start repeating. You want to get to a place where your kids can explain it, right? Where if someone asks them, not you testing them, but like oh, if a stranger were to ask them what does your dad do for work, could they easily rattle that off? And it’s funny and cute sometimes too, but it’s also you can kind of hear the seed of like oh yeah, they do really get what we do. So that’s what I would say for sure.

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