Taking a parent to work for a day sounds like something we did in primary school. Certainly not something we would do as adults. So, taking our parents to the office or our workplace for a day – really?
It’s well known that baby boomers often feel invisible. Ignored by marketers and advertisers they can also struggle to get jobs as employers consider them “too old”. The perception tends to be that turning 50 is the start of a slippery slide downhill towards physical or cognitive decline. To being old.
However, the reality is quite different. Baby boomers, and beyond, are an active, engaged, experienced, interested, interesting, technologically literate, and wise group of diverse individuals. Despite greying hair, wrinkles, and a slight slowing down.
Our challenge is to close the gap of understanding between younger people and baby boomers and beyond.
In her book The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan writes:
“When my daughter looks at me, she sees a small old lady. That is because she sees only with her outside eyes.”
Oh to be seen beyond initial impressions formed by our outside eyes.
To be seen. To be understood. To be heard. To go beyond external appearances and first impressions requires a willingness to learn and understand.
3 reasons to bring a parent to work
The 3 reasons to bring a parent to work for a day:
- To remove the invisibility cloak. Baby boomers and beyond can and do contribute significantly to our communities and our lives. Invisibly. It’s time to create visibility.
- We’ll all be older one day. Now is the time to start changing cultural conversations about being 50 and beyond.
- As Lyndon Johnson suggested,
“If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better.”
In a culture that seems to revere youth and millenials, why bother?
Because we’ll all be over 50 one day. Hence, the attitudes and beliefs we have about what we’ll be doing, and imagine life to be when we’re older influences how we age. They also influence how we perceive those we may currently consider “old”. We fulfil our highest expectations. Equally, we place those expectations, those beliefs about being older, on others. As Bruce Lee so eloquently suggested,
“As you think, so shall you become.”
Given we all age, it’s time to change attitudes today so that ageism and age discrimination don’t remain into the future. After all, lifespans are becoming longer, so the desire to remain an active part of the workforce and the community well beyond 50 will only grow. Shifting entrenched cultural and organisational attitudes and behaviour is key. One way to achieve change is to bring generations together.
Hollywood did it in a light-hearted way with The Intern. I love this demonstration that shows how bringing younger and older people together to gain understanding – even for a few minutes – completely changes attitudes and perceptions of what “old” is. However, this idea from NBC Universal for a ‘Bring-your-parents-work-day’ is a practical way of mixing generations for greater understanding.
This innovative idea enables young people to show off what they do by bringing their parents into their business environment. In a world where parents and children don’t necessarily live in the same town, an extension of this idea is to bring an older person you know with you to work for that day. And, whilst it is only a day, it does change the age ratios momentarily and provides the opportunity for increased understanding.
Done well, who knows what we could create or the contribution that each could make to the other? At a minimum, it would at least bring generations together as a community. And that could be the start of a conversation that creates the ripple for change.