Take Your Child to Work Day On Take Your Child to Work Day, kids talk about what they know about their parents' jobs, and what their parents hope to teach them.
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Take Your Child to Work Day

Take Your Child to Work Day

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Rebecca Roberts in Washington, sitting in for Neal Conan.

Fifteen years ago, the Ms. Foundation challenged mothers to take their daughters to work with them on the fourth Thursday of April. People everywhere responded, and fathers and sons wanted in on it, too, so the movement is now nationally recognized as Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Well, we did just that, and now we're joined by an audience of kids and parents here in Studio 4A.

(Soundbite of applause, cheering)

ROBERTS: The kids here may wonder exactly what their parents do, and when they figure it out, they may even be inspired to follow in their parents' professional footsteps. We'll be talking to a congressman who's the son of a senator, a college basketball coach whose daughter plays for a rival school, and a prominent journalist whose daughter occasionally guest hosts TALK OF THE NATION. And we want to hear from you. Do your children know what you do? Were you influenced by what your parents did? Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK. Our e-mail address is talk@npr.org, and you can join the conversation on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.

We begin with Congressman John Sarbanes. He's the Democratic representative of Maryland's Third District. His father is former Maryland Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes. Welcome to the show, Congressman.

Representative JOHN SARBANES (Democrat, Maryland): Thank you. It's good to be here.

ROBERTS: You are - is this your first term in Congress - just as your dad retired, so you never served together.

Rep. SARBANES: We never served together, no. We didn't overlap, actually.

ROBERTS: And how old were you when he first elected?

Rep. SARBANES: Well, when he was first elected to public office was 1966. I was four years old. He came to Congress in 1970, and he served for about 40 years in the U.S. Congress.

ROBERTS: Did your father ever take you to work for him - with him?

Rep. SARBANES: He did - not on an official Take Your Child to Work Day, but yeah. I did accompany him a few times.

ROBERTS: And did you always feel like public office was something you were going to go into?

Rep. SARBANES: Well, you know, it's interesting. I think children can follow in their parents' footsteps either directly or indirectly. What I mean by that is directly would mean that you know right from the get-go that you're interested in following in exactly the kind of job or pursuit that your parent has, and many do that. Indirectly is that you sort of absorb by osmosis the kind of commitment that your parent has to their job. And then there comes a time along the way where you have the opportunity to do the same thing, and that's sort of how I came to it.

ROBERTS: So you weren't practicing campaign speeches at four. You weren't one of those kids.

Rep. SARBANES: No, I was not.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: What was your father's reaction when you told him you were going to run for Congress?

Rep. SARBANES: Well, I think he was excited about it. I mean, he was anxious, because any time you put yourself in front of the electorate and you - and you're seeking votes like that, you never know how it's going to end up. But he was very supportive, and I think he felt that he'd contributed to the decision indirectly by emphasizing the importance of public service and commitment to community all during his professional life, and I think that perspective rubbed off on me.

ROBERTS: Do you think it would have been different for you if he were still in office, if you were physically working in the same building?

Re. SARBANES: That would be very interesting, actually, to cross paths during the day. I actually sort of cross paths indirectly with him, because there's so many people that he knew over the last 30 years. And they're always asking me are you, you know, are you related to Senator Sarbanes? So we didn't have that opportunity, but in some ways I kind of feel - still feel his presence here in Washington.

ROBERTS: Again, we are talking about Take Your Child to Work Day, Take Your Son or Daughter To Work Day. The number to join us is 800-989-TALK, or e-mail talk@npr.org. And we do have a live audience here in Studio 4A, and if anyone here has a question for me or our panel, please join in. We have someone at the microphone in the audience who will take your question. But in the meantime, let's hear from Megan in Norman, Oklahoma. Megan, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

MEGAN (Caller): Hi, thank you for taking my call.

ROBERTS: Sure. You're on the air.

MEGAN: All right, well, I just wanted to call in and say that parents are often such a wonderful influence, and that my mother is an elementary school librarian - also here in Oklahoma - and influenced me so much by reading to me often. and I would volunteer at the library, and still do, and am currently an elementary education student and can't wait to start teaching soon.

ROBERTS: And did you ever go to the library with your mom when you were a kid?

MEGAN: Oh, you bet I did. I spent lots of time in there, not only tutoring students with math but also helping them to read. And I also just enjoyed helping her to clean up the library and getting things organized.

ROBERTS: Megan, thanks so much for your call. And we have a question from the audience here in Studio 4A. Go ahead.

MAX (Audience Member): Yeah, I'm Max. Hi. And my dad's a lawyer, and he thinks that I'd be a good lawyer because I'm really good at arguing with him...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MAX: ...and my family. But, yeah - but I'm not...

ROBERTS: What do you think about becoming a lawyer?

MAX: I think it might be kind of boring.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MAX: But I might do it. I think the pay is probably good, maybe.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MAX: Yeah, but there's other stuff that I might be interested in doing, too, but...

ROBERTS: What do you think a lawyer does?

MAX: Well, he - it takes the side of someone that's, like, in court and defends them.

ROBERTS: Excellent, thank you for contributing there. Well, let's take another call. This is Michael, in Waynesborough, North Carolina. Michael, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

MICHAEL (Caller): Hi. My dad is a teacher - or professor - at South Piedmont Community College in Polkton, North Carolina. And I'm actually a 17-year-old dual enrollment student at the college, and my dad is the teacher of one of my classes.

ROBERTS: Oh, really, you're in his class?


ROBERTS: Is he grading your papers?

MICHAEL: Yes and - it's a lab-assisted course, and so the computer actually does about half the grading.

ROBERTS: Michael, would you ever consider becoming a professor yourself?

MICHAEL: Probably not. I'm more in the banking field, myself.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Thanks for your call. Also with us here in Studio 4A is Karl Hobbs. He's head coach of men's basketball at George Washington University, winner of the 2006 Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year Award. Congratulations, and welcome to the show.

Mr. KARL HOBBS (Men's Basketball Head Coach, George Washington University): Well, thank you. Glad to be here.

ROBERTS: And did you always know you wanted to be a coach?

Mr. HOBBS: Not really. I actually got into it by my high school coach, who was the head basketball coach, Mike Jarvis, from Boston University. And he asked me to come on his staff because he thought that I would make a great coach, and he had some great insights.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: And one of your daughters plays for that other George school on the other side of the river - George Mason. Did you guide her towards basketball?

Mr. HOBBS: I don't know if I directly guided her towards basketball, but I think that - I think it's important when you have daughters to encourage them to be involved in sports. I think it's a great way to build their self-esteem. And I think young ladies, when they're growing up, I think that's the most important thing with daughters, is building their self-esteem and building their confidence, and I always felt sports was a way to do that.

ROBERTS: And if she wanted to go on to become a coach, would you think that was a good idea?

Mr. HOBBS: Nah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOBBS: No, I think that if she decided that she wanted to coach, I'd be pretty excited about that because I think that being a coach - you're pretty much a teacher, and I think that's one of the most noble professions that any person can do is be a teacher and be a person of service, and that's what I try encourage her, as well as her sister.

ROBERTS: And Congressman Sarbanes, what would you say if one of your kids wanted to run for office?

Rep. SARBANES: Well, what I've done with them is I've encouraged them to be focused on what they can do in the community and how they can serve in that way. And then if they came to a point where they felt they could contribute more by running for office, I'd be very supportive of that. But I think there's lots of ways to serve. Elected office is just one of them, and everyone ought to find a particular way that they can serve the community. That's what makes it stronger.

ROBERTS: Let's take a call from Alicia in California. Alicia, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

ALICIA (Caller): Oh, hello.

ROBERTS: Hello, you're on the air.

ALICIA: Well, that's great. You know, my mother - I - well, I'm going to be 73 in a week, so you know where I come in the timeframe. And there were no babysitters when I was a kid. The term didn't exist. And my mother was a workaholic, and she worked in offices. She could do anything in an office. And she would work there late in the evening, every weekend. I mean, uh - and she would take me there with her, which I didn't like, you know.

I mean, and she wouldn't just let me sit there and read a book or color in a coloring book or something. She'd give me things - I had to file, I had to, you know, do all kinds of little office work. And I never liked it. But what I learned as I became a person, an adult, and worked at all the variety of things that I worked at, I knew how to work.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ALICIA: And I learned it all from her. You just devote yourself to what it is you do, and you do it well.

ROBERTS: And, Alicia, even if you didn't like what your mom did for a living, did it make you feel - did it make you see your mom in a different light, to see her in a professional setting?

ALICIA: Actually, not as a child, but as an adult it gave me a lot of respect for her. And, as a matter of fact, the last thing that I said to her the day that she left was I told her how important it was to me that she taught me how to work. And I realized that, having been a supervisor of other people working, that most people don't really know what it is to work.

ROBERTS: And what do you do?

ALICIA: Well, I was a - I became a registered nurse, but I had done a lot of other things before I did that.

ROBERTS: Alicia, thanks so much for your call. Do you think there's a benefit in just sort of seeing your parent - or your children seeing you in - your outside your house world, of just sort of seeing you respected by your peers or going about life as not just dad? Karl Hobbs?

Mr. HOBBS: Yeah, I think that's very important. I think also - I think my wife has played a major role, particularly from an education standpoint. She's an engineer, earned her master's degree in engineering from Boston University. And I think that my two daughters, you know, have seen her, you know, work tirelessly, and I think she's been the biggest influence from that standpoint. And I think when they see parents putting that kind of energy and work and passion - and that's the thing that we talk to our kids about. We want them to do things that they have a great passion for because when you do that, ultimately, you will be happy.

ROBERTS: You agree, Congressman Sarbanes?

Rep. SARBANES: Absolutely. I was - I'm surprised - I have been surprised at times when I've - you know, I was a lawyer - just, you know, we talked about that before briefly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rep. SARBANES: And it can be boring if you don't find the right part of it to pursue, but it can also be an exciting endeavor. But at different times - I have three children - and I would ask them to see if they really understood what it is that I was doing when I was a lawyer. And now I'm asking them do you really understand what I do now? And it can be tough to relate if they don't have an opportunity to see you in whatever the setting is - what your work setting is. So I think that's a - it's a terrific chance to make that connection, and what we're - you know, this opportunity today across the country is important to that.

ROBERTS: Congressman John Sarbanes, Democratic representative of Maryland's Third District. He's been here in Studio 4A. Thanks so much for joining us.

Rep. SARBANES: Thanks very much.

ROBERTS: It's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, and we're talking to parents and kids about what we learn from our parents' jobs. Join us at 800-989-TALK, or send us e-mail. I'm Rebecca Roberts. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERTS: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Rebecca Roberts, in Washington. Neal Conan is away.

The average age in our offices here at NPR is a bit lower than usual today. It's Take Your Kids to Work Day, and we have a studio full of kids who came in to get a firsthand look at what their parents do at work. And we're talking about what kids know or think about what their parents do. My guest is George Washington University men's basketball coach, Karl Hobbs. Basketball runs in the Hobbs family. And what about you? What do you hope your kids will learn from what you do for a living? Were you influenced by what your own parents did? Give us a call at 800-989-TALK. Our e-mail address is talk@npr.org, and you can chime in at our blog: npr.org/blogofthenation. And, Karl Hobbs, I believe one or both of your daughters is here?

Mr. HOBBS: Yes, Rashauna and Kaliah.

ROBERTS: And, Rashauna, you play basketball at George Mason. Have you considered going on to become a coach, you think?

Ms. RASHAUNA HOBBS (Student, George Mason University; College Basketball Player): Not really. I've seen what he does and what he goes through…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOBBS: …and it's not something that I want to do in the future.

ROBERTS: What is it you don't like about it?

Ms. HOBBS: It's a very stressful job, a very time-consuming job. And he does have a lot of benefits and a lot of things that he does very well in working with players, but I feel like that's just not something that I would want to do.

ROBERTS: Were you ever tempted to go to George Washington and play there?

Ms. HOBBS: Not really. I love my father, but that's a little too close for college.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Putting a river between you…

Ms. HOBBS: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: …will make a difference. Well, thanks for being here. And if anyone else in the audience has questions, or if anyone out there in radio-land has questions: 800-989-TALK is the number to call. Let's hear from Meredith, in Phoenix. Meredith, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

MEREDITH (Caller): Hello, how are you?


MEREDITH: Good. Well, I am just on my way to pick up my daughter. In fact, I just got to the office to pick up my five-year-old daughter who came with her daddy to work, who's a software engineer. And this is her third time coming to do that, and she's just five years old. She's just in kindergarten, but she has the best time coming with her daddy. They've printed ID badges for all the kids that just like their moms' and their dads', and they just have a really great time. And it's been interesting to see how my daughter has thought - went from thinking that my husband made money - literally, worked the machines that made money at work...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MEREDITH: ...to earning an income by providing, you know, the software that he builds for the University of Phoenix, so...

ROBERTS: And do you think she understands that, what being a software engineer is?

MEREDITH: I think she sees that daddy has three computers on his desks...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MEREDITH: ...and sees that there's a little bit more to it than, you know, the Noggin and the Web site she plays with at school - or at home. But, you know, she's kind of getting - she kind of understands, and she looks forward to coming. And I'm a stay-at-home mom, and she gets to come to work with me all the time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Meredith, thanks for your call. My kids would say I read the news on the radio, that's how they describe my job. They're five. Let's take a call from our - a question - from our audience here.

Ms. KALEEF NELSON(ph) (Audience Member): Hi, my name's Kaleef Nelson. I just want to say that me, personally, I would like to follow in my mother's footsteps because she's an inner city teacher at Kenworth(ph) Elementary, and she's a fifth grade and sixth grade English teacher. And I really like teaching little kids, like, you know, how to read and write and, you know, things that they'll need in the future. So I don't necessarily want to be a English teacher. I like art, so I could be a art teacher.

ROBERTS: Kaleef, have you seen your mom in action? Have you gone down to the school?

Ms. NELSON: Yeah, thousands of times when I was little.

ROBERTS: Excellent, thanks for sharing that. How about right here?

Unidentified Girl: Well, until I was about six, I thought my dad was a senator because he worked in the Senate. And so I was pretty confused when he told me that he was chief of staff, not senator.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Did you get to go down to the Capitol and see that scene?

Unidentified Girl: Oh, I've been there a lot, and I've met a few senators.

ROBERTS: Excellent, thanks for joining us. Let's take a call from Javier in San Jose. Javier, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

JAVIER (Caller): Thank you. Do you hear me OK now?

ROBERTS: Yes, we can.

JAVIER: Thank you. Listen, I don't take my kids too close to my workplace, which is in the field. I work picking up garlic, and I feel shy to - my kids to see me that, and I moved two hours - far away from that workplace.

ROBERTS: So what - Javier, what do your kids think you do?

JAVIER: Well, I told them that I work far away from home so hard, but I never tell that I do that job. I feel shy myself, because for 15 years doing it, I never made money like a politician does. So I told my kids to be a president of the United States. Every single day I tell my daughter, nine years old, you're going to be - you will be the president of the United States, please, because they make trouble everywhere and they get paid no matter what. So I feel shy at my work. I think it is very, very poor, what I do.

ROBERTS: Javier, thank you so much for joining us. We are talking about taking your kids to work and what they learn about what you do and whether or not they're inspired to follow in your footsteps. What do your kids think you do? Or has what you do for a living been influenced by one of your parents? 800-989-TALK. That's 800-989-8255, or send us e-mail: talk@npr.org. Let's hear from Tim in Wisconsin. Tim, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

TIM (Caller): Thank you.

ROBERTS: You're on the air, Tim.

TIM: Yes, I called in because we're just a little bit different than your average take a work - we grew up in our work.

ROBERTS: What's your work?

TIM: We're innkeepers, and we've been innkeepers as a family (unintelligible) that we record, since 1823.

ROBERTS: The same inn?

TIM: Nope. We've been in the same inn up in northern Wisconsin since 1921.

ROBERTS: And, Tim, is that its own sort of pressure? I mean, would it have been frowned upon if you decided not to go into inn keeping?

TIM: Oh, no, I've got five kids, and my daughter, youngest daughter, is taking over. No, it hasn't been any pressure at all. It's like a disease that's catching.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TIM: The one thing about inn keeping, it's never dull.

ROBERTS: And was there a time when you wanted to do something else? Or did you always just assume you'd take over the family inn?

TIM: No, when I got through grad school, I went - came back to the resort for a couple of years, and I went and managed the Union League Club in Chicago, or chief of operations, and then I went from there to running a country club and from there I went - took over and started the hotel school at the University of Wisconsin. And when my dad wanted to retire, we came back to the resort.

ROBERTS: Tim, thanks so much for your call. We've got a question here in Studio 4A. Go ahead.

Ms. CARRIE GUDENKOFF(ph): My name is Carrie Gudenkoff. My mom works here at NPR. She's an editor at the science desk, and although I find her job interesting and that she helps edit papers that later go on out to the people in the public on the radio to tell people what's going on in the world, I don't think I'd like to follow in her footsteps.

ROBERTS: What do you think you'd prefer to do?

Ms. GUDENKOFF: I don't quite know yet. A lot of my friends have asked me, but yet, I don't know.

ROBERTS: Now editor's one of those jobs that it takes you to be as old as you are to sort of understand. What did you used to think your mom did?

Ms. GUDENKOFF: Well, I used to think that she sat there and graded papers.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: She sort of does grade papers, actually, in a way. Thank you for joining us. This is Jeremy, in Laramie, Wyoming. Jeremy, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

JEREMY (Caller): Hi.

ROBERTS: Hi, you're on the air.

JEREMY: Yes. I am a third-generation rural mail carrier, and I've been - my grandfather did it, my mother did it, and I just find it the best work on earth, you know.

ROBERTS: And did you ever want to do something else? Or did you always know you'd be a mail carrier?

JEREMY: Oh, I've - you know, I didn't know I wanted to be a mail carrier until I went out on one of those 104 days in Texas and helped my mom...

(Soundbite of laughter)

JEREMY: ...throw some of that mail out, and it was fantastic. You know, I can't work inside. I found out that I need to be outside, and I (unintelligible).

ROBERTS: Even in 104-degree heat?

JEREMY: Oh, that's why I moved to Wyoming.

(Soundbite of laughter)

JEREMY: But, yeah, my - I take great pride in my work, you know, because I'm following a tradition or, you know, I'm kind of genetically disroposed(ph) to it, just right in my blood, you know.

ROBERTS: Jeremy, thanks for your call. Karl Hobbs, we've talked about your influence on your kids, but what about your parents' influence on you?

Mr. HOBBS: Well, they had a great influence on me, particularly my mom. She encouraged me and my brothers to be in sports. She thought that'd be a great way to occupy five boys and keep us busy...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOBBS: ...and so she encouraged sports, but more importantly, she encouraged the education aspect of it. When I did finally get a scholarship to play at the University of Connecticut, her concern was more about the academics. And, you know, the one real quick story is when I got to the University of Connecticut, there were several very good players there, and so I didn't think I was ever really going to play. So I told my mom, I think I'm going to transfer. And she said, now are they giving you a full scholarship? I said, yes. She said, well, you tell some of those big guys to move over and make room for you on the bench.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOBBS: So those were her words of encouragement.

ROBERTS: Well, it seems to have done some good.

Mr. HOBBS: Oh, absolutely.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Let's take a call from Rochelle(ph), in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rochelle, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

ROCHELLE (Caller): Thank you very much for taking my call.


ROCHELLE: I just wanted to say that I'm a - actually, an accountant who works for a small-time florist, a family-owned florist. And as most florists know that - we are very busy people and we have, you know, times when work is very busy and have had to bring my kids to work out of necessity and picking them up from school and bringing them to work, and they just thoroughly enjoy it. And I come from a long line of - my father owns his own business. He has his own tool and dye business, and so I grew up working for the business and have learned a lot from my parents. And I think part of it is my children enjoy me spending the time with them and being close to them and getting to see what I do during the day when they're at school.

ROBERTS: And what do they think you do?

ROCHELLE: They think I work with flowers all day and that I cut flowers when, you know, sometimes I'm really billing people and doing the accounting work, doing taxes, things like that. So…

ROBERTS: Rochelle, thanks for your call. Let's take a question here in the audience in 4A.

Mr. DARREN CARR (Audience Member): My name is Darren Carr and my dad Rod Carr actually works for General Dynamics. And all day I thought he would just sit in a room and write stuff and do stuff on computers. And then last year on Take Your Son and Daughter to Work Day I went to work with him, and I was completely blown away with all the computers and wiring that he had to use.

And even though this sounds pretty interesting, it would probably be not something I would want to do when I grow up. I would probably be more interested in a career in maybe sports or journalism.

ROBERTS: Do you think it changed how you think of your dad to see that his job was a lot more complicated than you thought it was?

Mr. DARREN CARR: Yeah, because you go to work and you're there all day working on all this stuff and it looks really hard for me right now. And I'm just like completely blown away.

ROBERTS: Let's take a call from Lela(ph) in Woodland, California. Lela, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

LELA (Caller): Thank you.

ROBERTS: You're on the air.

LELA: Yes, and I'm so glad I am. I just wanted - my mother's a nurse and she takes care of people physically, and I'm a counselor and I take care of people, you know, emotionally and sometimes physically. And she's always inspired me about caring for others and, you know, taking care of others and being part of the community.

But on top of that, I'm a career counselor, and I always wish that we could -if we don't have children own we could adopt children and take them to work with us, because I work in a community college that's more inner city. And it seems that students, if they're not brought into work environments to see what people do, they don't have a sense of all the options that are available to them.

And so I think when we bring a child into the workplace, any child, that it helps them get an idea of choices and what people do and who'll pay the money for what. And I think it's such a valuable activity.

ROBERTS: Lela, thanks for your call.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

Karl Hobbs, we've heard from a couple of people who don't do exactly what their parents do but have sort of drawn inspiration from their parents or have sort of drawn values from their parents. You could see where coaching has a mentoring aspect, a teaching aspect. Do you think some of those are some of the lessons that could be passed onto your girls?

Mr. HOBBS: Well, I think most importantly they both are very competitive and I always remember Rashauna in particular, when she was in the sixth and seventh grade, she always knew who was the best math student, who was the best, you know, science student. And she always wanted to compete. And I always enjoyed that aspect about her. But I have to be honest also. I'm dying to meet your mom.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Yeah, my mom's going to be on the show after the break.

We have e-mail from William in Salt Lake City who says my five-year-old daughter is full of excitement every time we're walking in a parking lot and see a manhole lid or a storm drain grate. She knows that without civil engineering we would not have clean water to drink and would have sewage infested rivers. She, however, would like to win an Oscar before she becomes a civil engineer.

We also have e-mail from Cindy in Atlanta, who says, In a way I managed to follow in the footsteps of both my parents. My mom was a writer and dreamed of being a reporter. She died when I was 10 and I adopted that dream. But after working in the business for six years I got tired of being broke and moved into the business world.

My dad, an engineer, was a manager. I think he was most proud when I got an A in my MBA statistics class. It's funny how life works out. The craziest thing is I enjoyed both worlds.

What do you know about what your parents did? What do your kids know about what you do? Join us at 800-989-TALK. That's 800-989-8255.

Let's hear from Leslie in Michigan. Leslie, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

LESLIE (Caller): Hi, how are you doing?

ROBERTS: Good. How are you?

LESLIE: I'm fine. Got my five-year-old daughter sleeping in the backseat. My dad - I'm a little bit older than most of the people in your - I think, in your audience may be. But my dad was doing Take Your Daughter to Work Day before it even had a name. He would take me - my dad's a retired doctor and he would take me on rounds.

He'd say, you know, who wants to go on rounds with me today? And I would always go with him. And I mean I have to admit there was, you know, a little bit of a selfish reason, because I knew that at the end of rounds we would go out for lunch together.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LESLIE: Always just the two of us. You know, like in the doctors' lounge. But it was always good, like, you know, to get that attention and to see him, you know, being somebody other than daddy. And of the - I mean, my brother's a lawyer, my sister's a stay-at-home mom.

Currently I'm unemployed, but I've gone back to school to get my skills - to get some new skills. And my daughter is like my cheerleader. It's like, Mommy, did you get the hundred today, the A? You've got to study, Mommy. So…

ROBERTS: Leslie, thank you for your call. Let's take a comment from the audience here.

Ms. NORA OVERBY (Audience Member): Hi, my name's Nora Overby, and I think it's really cool that my dad gets to work here and be on the radio and talk about exciting political stories. And I think it's really cool, but I don't think I'd like to be in news.

ROBERTS: Why not?

Ms. OVERBY: Well, I'd rather be a vet, because I would want to help animals.

ROBERTS: And do you still sort of get a little charge when you hear your dad's voice on the radio? Is that cool? Or is that old news by now?

Ms. OVERBY: It's still pretty fun. And a lot of my friends - people like will recognize him on the street and say, Are you Peter Overby? And it's pretty exciting to see that.

ROBERTS: We need to take a short break right now. When we come back, I suspect the show will get a little more personal. A certain well-known journalist whose daughter has kind of followed in her footsteps joins us. And more of your calls. What do your kids know about what you do? The number is 800-989-TALK. Or send e-mail to talk@npr.org.

I'm Rebecca Roberts. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERTS: Today we have a studio full of kids who tagged along with their parents for Take Your Child to Work Day. And we're talking about what kids know about what their parents do and what parents hope their kids will learn from their work. We will talk with another well-known parent in a few minutes.

And we need your stories. Do your children know what you do? Were you influenced by what your parents did? Call us at 800-989-TALK. Our e-mail address is talk@npr.org.

We are also joined by Karl Hobbs. He's George Washington University men's basketball head coach. And here now is Cokie Roberts, NPR - oh, they know what you do. All the NPR audience knows what you do. They might not know that you are my mom. Welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

COKIE ROBERTS: Why thank you, Becca, but I didn't teach you to throw your papers on the floor.

(Soundbite of laughter)

REBECCA ROBERTS: It's radio. They can't see. So how much did you know about what your parents did when you were growing up?

COKIE ROBERTS: Actually, I knew a good deal about what my parents did, because like John Sarbanes, who was here at the beginning of the hour, my father was in Congress. And so I went with him to the Capitol. We would stay home from school at the drop of a hat and go watch debates in the Capitol. And it's obviously stood me in good stead.

And my mother, as you well know, your grandmother, ran all of my father's campaigns and ran his office. So we were very involved in what his work was. And I loved it.

And I was struck by some of the kids who called you earlier, about them saying that they were impressed by their parents when they go there - or the kids here - and saw what their parents were actually doing. I had that feeling all the time. I found that it was really something that I - I thought that was hard work.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And what did they make of you going into journalism?

COKIE ROBERTS: They weren't thrilled.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COKIE ROBERTS: But we were thrilled when you did.

(Soundbite of laughter)

REBECCA ROBERTS: Well, did it surprise you that I did?

COKIE ROBERTS: Somewhat. Becca's father, many of you know, is also a journalist, longer than I have been. Although God knows hardly anybody has been longer than I have been. And you had been more interested in politics as a little kid, and threatened our congresswoman in our home district in Maryland with running against her for her seat.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Yes, that's true.

(Soundbite of laughter)

REBECCA ROBERTS: Let's change the subject and take a call from Blake in Oklahoma City. Blake, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

BLAKE (Caller): Hi, hi. My father owns a third generation direct mail company. My great-grandfather, grandfather, and father have all owned it. And I'm 19 years old. And so in the next few years my brother and I will probably be making the decision of whether or not we want to take over the company.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And what do you think about that?

BLAKE: I think it's - I think it's interesting. It's an interesting dynamic growing up with that, always knowing that I could do that when I'm older. And at this point I want to be an English professor, but my brother may do that. Or for all I know I might. My father didn't expect to go into the business, but he ended up there.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And has he encouraged you to?

BLAKE: He's been very open in saying that he wants me to do what makes me happy. I think that they would be proud of me that way. But they'd probably be proud of me with whatever I chose to do.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Blake, thanks for your call. Let's hear from Michael in Missouri. Michael, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

MICHAEL (Caller): Yeah, hello. It is a great subject to talk about, actually. I think about it a lot, because my father and mother both took me to work with them when I was a child. In the 1980s they were coworkers. And being (unintelligible) in the '80s was a hard time. And it made me know absolutely that's not what I wanted to do. And so I became an artist and my parents are supportive of that.

And I have a child - I have two children of my own. And my daughter is three, and she's regularly in the studio with me. And when we take her to the art museum, at three years old she can distinguish a Picasso from a Matisse.

(Soundbite of laughter)

REBECCA ROBERTS: Excellent. Thanks for your call. Mom, was there a little bit of that with you, seeing what your parents did and knowing you didn't want to do it?

COKIE ROBERTS: No. I'm a great respecter and admirer of people who run for office. But your father was always in journalism and it would have been a little hard on him if I had gone into politics, but I do feel that what I do explains what the business of government is to voters, and so I think it's part of the whole process.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Let's hear from Jennifer in Chico. Jennifer, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

JENNIFER (Caller): Hi, yes. My mom definitely influenced what I wanted to do. She worked with special ed. students, and I would go with her on camping trips and help her, and it just made me be more aware of people's emotions and everything. And I'm studying psychology right now, and I'm really interested in helping people, but more emotionally than, you know, what she did.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And what did you learn about your mom in addition to learning about psychology when you went to work with her?

JENNIFER: Just that I didn't realize how people looked at special ed. - because she worked with severely special ed people - and I never realized that people look at them differently. And I don't do that. Like, I just look at everybody and a person in their own person, and I don't know. I just, I really respect what she does.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Jennifer, thanks for your call. We are talking about taking your kids to work. We've got a studio full of kids here at NPR, and let's hear from one of them.

CHRIS(ph) (Audience Member): Hi, my name is Chris, and my mom works here at NPR, but I don't think I'd like to follow her footsteps. But I think it's a good idea to have kids come to work with parents because as we get older, we kind of see our parents do more and more mistakes, and we find they're less human that we thought - I mean, they're more human than we thought.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHRIS: And then to see them do something great gives us a reason to be proud.

REBECCA ROBERTS: But why wouldn't you want to work here, Chris?

CHRIS: I'm kind of like that girl who was on the phone. I'm into psychology now.

COKIE ROBERTS: Rebecca, I notice your children aren't here.

REBECCA ROBERTS: My children are very little. I don't let them in front of live microphones.

COKIE ROBERTS: But the 2-year-old does regularly say no Mommy radio.

REBECCA ROBERTS: He doesn't like to listen to me on the radio, it's true. But there is that element of being with your parents when they do something that is important to them and sort of sharing. I mean, you must have had it when George Washington wins, of sharing that with your daughters.

Mr. KARL HOBBS (Men's Basketball Head Coach, George Washington University; Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year, 2006): It's a great experience, and I think for me, I try to have them around me, particularly around my job, around my environment, as much as possible, more so because of the job.

You're constantly away, and I think it's - once again, I always go back to the same thing. When you have daughters, to me, everything that I try and do with them, it's all about trying to build their self-esteem, and I think the more they're around me, the more they're around my basketball program, I think it's just a great, great influence for them.

COKIE ROBERTS: You know, Rebecca, I think that is one of the things, that we've talked a lot about how the kids see their parents differently when they go to work with their parents, but I think also we see our children differently when we give them tasks, for instance, at work and then they fulfill them, and then I think the kids feel really great about that, that they feel a sense of accomplishment, and so this whole Take Your Kids to Work Day does go all the way around the spectrum.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Let's here from Gabrielle(ph) in Lebanon, Ohio. Gabrielle, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

GABRIELLE (Caller): Hi. My mother is a social worker, and my father is a computer analyst, and I've been to work with them both numerous times, not today unfortunately, but I found that what they both did was interesting in itself, and I enjoyed what they did, but I found that there is no way in this world that you would get me to do that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GABRIELLE: But they decided that I should follow in the long heritage of being in the military in our family. We've been in the military since the American Revolution, so they decided that since I was the last one with our last name, because no one else had guys, I'm the only girl left, that I was going to do that from a very young age.

So I was like okay, that's cool, I'll go with that, and I was with it up until about three months ago, and I decided that if I was going to do something in life, I want to do it for me and not for everybody else. So I'm currently studying music at Cincinnati Conservatory Music. I would like to be an opera singer when I grow up.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And what do your parents think of that?

GABRIELLE: My dad's not super thrilled about that, and neither is my mom, really, because music isn't exactly a super-stable job, but what job really is stable? That's a question: define stable.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Gabrielle, thanks for calling in. She mentioned being part of a military family. That's definitely one of those jobs that tends to run in families. In our family, mom, obviously there's journalism among your generation and mine, but politics from way back in yours. Do you think there are certain jobs that tend to run in families more than others?

COKIE ROBERTS: I think some of it has to do with what we've been talking about all through the program, which is that the world of work is a very mysterious place, and it's hard to know what grownups do when they get up and leave the house every day. And so the notion that you do what your family did I think is completely normal because that's at least one grownup that you have some idea of what they're doing.

And you see it in all kinds of families. You see it certainly in the medical profession, and you see movie star's kids becoming movie stars. I think that it's just - it's the most familiar thing to you.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And I think we certainly saw it at the NCAA tournament with John Thompson and John Thompson and Patrick Ewing and Patrick Ewing. Sports tends to run in families, too.

Mr. HOBBS: Oh, absolutely. There's quite a few coaches that sons go into the business, and I think you're right. I think that's something that you're more familiar with. When you look at my daughters, they've been around basketball all their life, and I'll be shocked if my youngest doesn't at some point begin to pick up a basketball.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Well, she's here. Do you play basketball?

Unidentified Girl (Daughter of Mr. Hobbs): Yes.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And would you want to keep playing maybe through college?

Unidentified Girl: I may want to, but then I may want to try another sport.

ROBERTS: Just to do something a little bit different?

Unidentified Girl: Yeah.

REBECCA ROBERTS: That is the daughter of Karl Hobbs, men's basketball coach at George Washington University. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

We are also joined my own mother, Cokie Roberts, who I went to work with at the old NPR on M Street when I was a kid.

COKIE ROBERTS: It wasn't official, though, it was just no babysitter.

(Soundbite of laughter)

REBECCA ROBERTS: Right, it was just there was nothing else for me to do, and the skills I learned about cutting tape with a razor blade really didn't help me later in life.

COKIE ROBERTS: And why was I letting a seven-year-old hold a razorblade? There's a good question.

REBECCA ROBERTS: We have e-mail from Jeff(ph) in Eagle, Idaho who says my wife and I were both professional ballet dancers and worked all over the world. My daughter Cameron(ph) is a dancer now. I believe there are some professions, like ballet or being in the circus, that are both genetic and environmental. Cameron grew up in a ballet studio, and there is no separation between work and home, much like circus kids grow up under the big top.

Well Karl Hobbs, that's an interesting question of how much of it is something that you're around and so you're comfortable and how much of it is, you know, your parents were good at sports, so you're good at sports?

Mr. HOBBS: Well, I think so much of it is - and I try to encourage people, once again, to engage in something that you have a great passion for. And that's why you try to expose your kids to as many things as possible. And I think once again it's - you know, I find that most kids that do the same things their parents do because they're very familiar with it and, you know, my wife's a software engineer, and these kids are - you know, my kids are very familiar with using computers, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of two of them decide to be engineers themselves.

COKIE ROBERTS: But I think that question of a great passion is a very important one, because that could be the trap for a kid going into what their parents do is that they feel the expectation - we've heard several callers today worrying about that - and if the expectation is there that you must do this, then you're not perhaps following your bliss.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Let's hear from Theodora in New York. Theodora, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

THEODORA (Caller): Thank you.

REBECCA ROBERTS: You're on the air, Theodora.

THEODORA: Yes, hello.



REBECCA ROBERTS: Yes, you're on the air. What do you do?

THEODORA: Yes, I'm a home-birth midwife.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And do you take your kids with you to work?

THEODORA: Well, my work is very often in my home. I see patients in my home. I don't deliver them in my home and my children rarely come with me to the deliveries, but they see the women beforehand and afterward, and I have on rare occasions brought one of them with me.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And what do you think they take away from that?

THEODORA: I think they have a great respect for birth and for the normalcy of birth. I think they see how important it is to do something that you believe in, something that makes a difference. I don't make a lot of money at it, but I feel very strongly about it, and I think I've passed that on to them. You know, it's been hard at times, as well, to leave in the middle of the night and now know when I'm going to come back. I think that's been difficult at times but something they've accepted. But I think it's given them a very profound respect for women and for the birth process and for the normalcy of birth, and it's something that they speak about with great pride.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Theodora, thanks for your call.

You know, mom, you know, this started as Take Your Daughter to Work Day as a way for daughters to sort of learn that they could be anything professionally. Do you think that daughters just assume that now? Do they still need to be told that they can do anything a boy needs to do, a boy can do?

COKIE ROBERTS: I see it was the generation, certainly of your generation and then the generations beyond you seem to feel very strongly that they can do anything that a man can do, and of course they can in theory. They're smarter and all of that, but the - there are still some barriers, and it's very important that we not give up the notion that we do have to pay special attention to our girls so that they are not - don't come up against those barriers at a time when it can be very, very damaging.

REBECCA ROBERTS: I think we have time for one last call. This is Amanda(ph) in New York. Welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

AMANDA (Caller): Hi. Well, I found it a big influence when I went with my mom because, like, I always wanted to be a teacher since kindergarten. And I just went with her recently, and I found that I don't want to be a teacher anymore.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Amanda, how old are you?

AMANDA: I'm 11.

REBECCA ROBERTS: What do you want to be instead?

AMANDA: A veterinarian.

REBECCA ROBERTS: Excellent. Amanda, thanks so much for joining us, and thanks to our studio audience. You guys have been great. Thank you very much for being here, and thank you, Karl Hobbs, head coach of men's basketball at George Washington University. He's been here in Studio 4A. I appreciate it.

Mr. HOBBS: Thank you.

REBECCA ROBERTS: And thank you, mom, Cokie Roberts, senior news analyst for NPR, political commentator for ABC News. She has also been here in Studio 4A. Thank you for being so brave.

(Soundbite of laughter)

REBECCA ROBERTS: That does it for us. Ira Flatow is in tomorrow. Neal Conan will be back on Monday. I'm Rebecca Roberts. This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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