Straight Up with Sherri

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I LOVE Tom Purcell!

Take 'em to grandma's instead

By Tom Purcell
Sunday, April 24, 2005

"Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work" day is on Thursday, but I have a better idea: Let's take our daughters and sons to grandma's.

In response to a study by the American Association of University Women saying schools were shortchanging girls, the Ms. Foundation established the "Take Our Daughters To Work" program in 1993. The idea was to bolster self-esteem and encourage girls to think beyond "traditional roles and expectations."

Though such encouragement is a grand idea, some argued that it is boys, not girls, who are in a shambles. Boys are more likely to struggle in school, fail to graduate and eventually wake up in a pile of dirty laundry clutching an empty tequila bottle.

So in 2003 the Ms. Foundation retooled the program. They decided to not only include boys, but to refocus the debate. Their new goal, according to their Web site, is to broaden the discussion about the competing challenges of work and family.

"For girls to achieve their full potential, whether it is in the home, workplace or community," the site says, "boys also must be encouraged to reach their potential by participating fully in family, work and community."

In other words, it is employers and males who must change to allow women to attain fulfilling careers, come in to work late and leave early, as their families' needs dictate, and women better not have to pick up dirty socks or cook dinner when they get home.

I think it's great that women are free to choose "fulfilling careers," but I never understood what is fulfilling about most of them. I've been in the workplace for more than 20 years, and most of the people I've encountered would rather to be at the beach or on a bar stool than in a lousy office cubicle.

I've especially never understood the various women I've met and dated in Washington, D.C., who routinely log 60-hour weeks -- giving up their best energy and their best years -- to some paper-pushing job that would be filled within a few weeks were they hit by a bus.

If you are a doctor and save lives, that is fulfilling. Or if you are an artist, writer or performer who changes hearts, that is fulfilling. Or if you're a teacher who nurtures minds and souls, or the head of a charitable organization that helps folks around the world, all of these jobs are fulfilling.

But most jobs? They may be necessary and even important -- American productivity is good for the economy and therefore everyone -- but fulfilling? If my clients no longer paid me for the corporate work I do, I'm fairly confident I'd cease doing it.

That's why we need to send our kids to grandma's, not the workplace, on Thursday.

Instead of encouraging "fulfilling careers" in this rat race, grandma would take them for a long walk in the sweet spring air, read them a book, and tell them stories about the colorful and cherished family members who have passed on to a better world.

Grandma, after all, is the only person on earth who knows the difference between what is and isn't really important in this fleeting life, and she knows that nobody ever left this world wishing they'd spent more time at the office.

And instead of demanding that employers change -- or that our government create new laws to force them to -- why don't we demand less? There is no nirvana in this life -- things only get so good -- and more laws and regulations can never change that truth.

If we're going to demand anything, why not insist that our government tax families less so they can get by on less -- so that both mom and dad have more time and flexibility to take the kids for a walk in the sweet spring air, read them books and nurture their souls?

I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend my days doing that than working in a "fulfilling" corporate career.

Tom Purcell, a free-lance writer, lives in Mt. Lebanon. E-mail him at You can also visit him on the Web at


  • I want to go spend some time with Tom's Grandma. She sounds like a lot more fun than my last employer! Or my last grandmother. Still, the concept is enlightening - there are more important things in life than a successful career.

    By Blogger Right Wing Nut Job, at 11:18 AM  

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