April 28 was “Take your daughters to work day,” and I did! (I hope all you parents took your sons along as well!) My five-year-old fraternal twins, Sophia and Allegra, went to the office with Daddy! What did I teach them about what Daddy does, and what did Daddy learn?
On that same day, my wife, Talia, and I took the girls first to the local elementary school to enroll them for Kindergarten in the fall. The girlies love the small preschool they currently attend, and we were concerned they’d be anxious about the new place.
But they enjoyed their visit to the much bigger facility, and played with the other kids who were also there for enrollment. Allegra, who already can use an iPad better than her Mom, was jumping for joy at the computer lab!
We headed downtown to my office and when we arrived, the girls wanted to do what they like best: explore. They crawled under my desks and table, and played with the items on my shelves. They ran with their usual energy and excitement through the hallways and up and down the stairs of the fine old townhouse that currently houses my work digs. In the drawing room/lounge area they posed with busts of famous Americans and plopped down on the big chairs and sofas, chirping, “This room is so fancy!”
Back in my office I tried to read to them from the book An Island of Liberty, which my colleagues gave me as a gift for them when they were born. It was still a little advanced for them, but I explained that liberty means “You get to do the things you like to do. But you need to let everybody else do the things they like to do!”
They pointed to the iconography of Atlas on various posters in the office, exclaiming, “I bet that man is really strong and can pick up a whole cabinet! Or the whole globe!”
They spotted a large rolled-up banner, and we unfurled it. Then they wanted to know what the banner said. So I suggested, “Let’s sound out each letter. What’s this letter, and what sound does it make?” A-T-L-A-S. “Now say them all together.” “Atlas!” That was the easy one, but they also push on to S-H-R-U-G-G-E-D. “Shrugged!”
So what did I tell my daughters about what I do at work, and in a way a couple of five-year-olds might understand? Watching them that day, I took this approach:
“You know how excited you are about asking questions and learning new things? And you know how excited you are about going to school and visiting Daddy’s office and playing with your toys and your iPad? I want everyone to be excited about learning, and I want everyone to do the things that excite them! And my work is to teach everybody in the ‘whole wide world’ [one of Sophia’s favorite phrases] that this is a good way to live!”
My girls are still too young to appreciate the particulars of what I do at work. But taking them to work gets them talking about what they want to do when they grow up; Allegra wants to go to outer space, and Sophia wants to be a unicorn! It shows them how much Talia and I love them and want to help them take joy in their lives. And it renews in me my determination to create a world in which they can achieve and flourish.
Edward Hudgins, “Fathers' Day: An Older Dad of Babies Weighs In.” June 15, 2012.
William Thomas, “Objectivism is Not Anti-Family.” August 13, 2014.
Mary Heinking, “Treasure Hunting for Children's Books.” January 1, 1999.
Kenneth Livingston. “Raising Good Kids.” September 1, 1994.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.