Does Your Attitude Towards Work Help Your Kids?

Your kids will primarily define their attitude towards work from…YOU. What are you teaching them?

I had a wake-up call recently when I was talking with one of my kids about their thoughts about the future. I asked what kind of emotions came up for them when they thought or we talked about work specifically. He commented, “I guess it does feel pretty stressful—I just want to find a job that kind of sucks the least, you know?”

I waited a few moments, unsure how to respond, until it hit me. I replied, “I’m not sure if you know this, but I absolutely love working. I go to work nine out of ten days and feel grateful and excited to be there.” Whatever message I had given about my attitude towards work over the years, he had no clue that it was positive. 

Here are a few different points of view people have towards work. Look at them, and mark the ones you resonate the most with. (It’s not an exhaustive list, nor should you feel limited by how they’re worded.)

  • Work is something I just have to do; it is a necessary evil.
  • Work is something I get to do, a gift to express my unique identity and perspective.
  • Work is something that I try to get through as quickly and painlessly as possible. 
  • Work is something that gets through to me; it’s a means to help me grow.
  • Work is something that enables me to live the rest of my life.
  • Work is my chance to make a difference in the world.
  • Work is a way for me to create something meaningful.
  • Work is my opportunity to provide for the people I care about.
  • Working hard is something that I get to do.
  • Working hard is a chore I avoid doing at all costs. 
  • Work is something that I have to do so I can do what I want to do. 

Your point of view toward work will determine, in large part, your experience. Like many things in life, it’s not fixed, either. Not only do you have the chance to change your attitude, but you can also choose the one that works best for you each and every day. 

Our kids deserve an opportunity to be guided in exploring and selecting a point of view toward work that will most likely benefit them and contribute to their thriving. 

Chances are, their current perspective toward work is similar to their experience at school. And since many, if not most, students feel like their experience at school is some version of pointless, they need to rethink their perspective. They need you to help them. 

How do you guide your kid to a better, more helpful point of view toward work? Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Check Yourself: look inward and reflect on your attitude about going to work most days. Consider healthy outlets to deal with some of your frustrations or boost your mental health after the work day. 
  • Rephrase: without sounding Pollyanna-ish or preachy, develop some phrases that might better indicate a redeemed perspective you have toward work each day, whether it’s an exciting day of work travel or a tedious day of folding laundry. Phrases like “I’m looking forward to…” or “I’m so grateful I get to…” can go a long way to communicating a positive, affirming view of work. 
  • Share Openly and Honestly: sharing a holistic perspective of work is important. It’s not all good, nor is it all bad. There are some rotten moments and days, to be sure. How you process them out loud can send implicit messages to your kids that get implanted forever. So, rather than just vent at home, consider adding some qualifying phrases, too. Things like, “I’m so frustrated with a colleague and feel really disappointed, but ultimately, I know these moments will shape my character and teach me to be a better leader.”

I hope my kids will also learn to love the work they get to do when they get older. I don’t want them to have to “work for the weekend” or wait until retirement to pursue their interests and dreams. What about you?


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For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.  

They're uncommon sense ideas, really.

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