Now the roles have changed: You're the parent juggling a busy work life or a brand-new startup, and your children need explanations.
Talking to your kids about work or entrepreneurship isn't always easy, especially if you work a lot of hours, but it can be rewarding when you have a better idea of what to say. Use these tips to smooth the way.
Never blame the children.
It can be easy to slip into a narrative of, "Daddy has to work so you can eat," or "Mommy has to pay for your new braces somehow," when explaining why you work so much.
I know entrepreneurial parents who've regretted saying things like this. You should definitely express to your kids that steady employment is necessary for making the comforts of life more accessible. But, you should avoid planting any seeds of guilt in your children just for simply being born or needing basic necessities.
You can see why this type of explanation could build up some negative feelings for your child in the long-term. No matter what explanation you give, make sure your kids can't misinterpret it to mean that if it weren't for them, you'd never have to work.
This isn't fair and it probably isn't true. Instead, explain your job or startup in a way that makes sense to your children without placing blame.
Explain the importance of work.
The foundation of your talk with a child about your job or startup can be in the importance of work and how you are passionate about it. For example, enjoying your work can make you a happier and healthier person. That's an important lesson for a child to learn.
Also, a good job lets the family to go on that fun vacation, go out to dinners together, as well as buy the toys kids love so much.
This will help show your child that your job isn't just an important part of your life, but of his or hers as well. This angle can help your child want you to go to work, to continue providing the things that he or she enjoys having or doing.
Be careful about how much you echo your child's wishes for you to stay home. Saying that you wish you could stay home too can be a sweet way to remind your child that you wish you could spend more time with him/her. However, it can confuse a youngster who doesn't understand why you can't do something you want so much.
Instead, acknowledge and validate your kids' feelings, but stick to your explanation of why you want to work. It could be what inspires them to be an entrepreneur someday too.
Let them see what passion looks like.
Let's talk more about passion. Hopefully, you love your job - especially as an entrepreneur. Showing your kids that you love what you do is a hugely effective way for them to understand why you work a lot.
Compare it to something your kids love to help them understand. For example, if your child loves playtime, he or she would want to do it more often, right? The same is true with your passion for your startup. It makes you happy, despite ups and downs, so you want to do it as much as possible.
Make sure, however, that you don't miscommunicate your love for your job as indicating a lack of love for your children. Your child might get the confusing message that you love your job more than him/her.
Toe this line by explaining that your job is something you enjoy, but that it's also a necessity for the family. Whether you need your job for financial reasons or to spend some time out of the house, explain that it's just something most adults must do.
Don't set guilt take over the conversation (or your life).
You definitely aren't alone if you're a parent who experiences guilt about being away from your children so much while you work. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center poll, more than half (56%) of surveyed working parents with kids under 18 say it's difficult for them to balance the responsibilities of their job with those of their family.
Don't let your feelings of guilt overwhelm you though. Realize that your children may need a little less time with you than you may think, and that it's the quality of your together-time that matters the most.
So, sit down with your children, explain why you work, and realize you're probably inspiring excellent work ethic in your kids. You might even be raising the entrepreneurs of the future.