As a youngster, I went to my mother’s job just about every day. Her office was only a couple of blocks from my school, so once my ex-curricular activities wrapped up, I would walk to her office and sit and wait for her until it was time to go home. All of her staff and employees knew me. I was a constant fixture at her office and at the many meetings she attended during the week and come to find out, her reasoning for having me around was two-fold.
One reason I was a constant fixture was because she was a single mother of two children and time and resources were scarce as we had no immediate family members in the city we resided in. The other reason, as she wrote in my fifth grade yearbook was to teach me the value of hard work:
To my 10 year old daughter, Rashida:
Well, you made it through another school year successfully ! You are a very
talented child. Your challenge is to recognize that talent and make the best
use of it. School is sometimes a drag, going with me to meetings seems a bore,
but believe me, it will help you prepare for your future. You are a beautiful child
in many ways – and I hope you recognize your beauty. Please know that I love
you and will help you in every way possible.
It definitely took me a while to appreciate the lessons I learned while being a constant side-kick with her to business meetings, receptions and galas. I would have preferred to be at home talking on the phone and watching MTV, but what she wanted to show me was the tenacity and dedication it took to be successful, despite your circumstances. There were simply no excuses for not being where you needed to be and when you needed to be there.
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As I have grown and worked for many companies and firms across the US, I have seen children in the office many times. These children look just like me when it came to the lack of enthusiasm for having to be there, but I am certain there was a reason. I am naturally sensitive to mothers who HAVE to bring their kids to work, because I have been in their same position. Most times it is a last resort to scheduling conflicts due to sickness and/or cancellations of school, so when other co-workers (especially those who have raised children) would complain about the noise and pitter patter of feet running through the halls, I would just laugh it off because I know the mother would have preferred an alternative means of keeping their children occupied.
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Every working environment is different. My mother worked, and still works, for a national Not-For-Profit organization which fosters a sense of community and volunteerism, so when I was there, I was also working. I would fold pamphlets, make copies, be a messenger (this was WAY before email), etc. I was a welcomed addition to their staff. I guess you can say it was my first unpaid internship. Whatever the circumstances, if you as a parent are forced with making the decision of bringing your child to work, and it is not a violation of company policy or a safety hazard, to you I offer two pieces of advice:
1) Make it a learning opportunity for them and
2) Make sure they have some home training!
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Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.