Right now, in office buildings across America, moms and dads are saying things like, "Honey, why don't you have an office?" and "Don't you think you should clean up that messy pile of papers?" and "Sit up straighter at your computer or you'll hurt your back!" and "Does your cafeteria have smoothies?" This is because today is Bring In Your Parents Day, launched by LinkedIn and sure to stir up nationwide angst.
To be sure, the intention behind the day is well meant. As LinkedIn notes on their site, "Your parents have been there for you throughout your education and career, providing support along the way…. Bringing your parents into your workplace helps them to understand (so they can brag about you to their friends) and they'll be able to offer you even better advice in the future which can only benefit your career. Your parents feel incredibly proud; let them feel part of your achievements and say thank you for everything they have done to help you so far."
Somehow, Linkedin—a website that exists solely to help people promote their best selves and get ahead—has completely missed the fact that taking your parents to the office could cause image problems, especially among younger employees who may already seem junior and inexperienced to supervisors. This may not do much for their confidence levels, either.
When you're new to the work world, you're proud to cut those proverbial apron strings. This is the job you landed because of your competency (OK, maybe Dad helped with the resumé.) You are an Official Grown Up! With a paycheck! And then, you're going to trot mom and dad around the office because, golly gee, you have an actual job? And introduce them to your boss? And pray that your mother doesn't say "Isn't she such a sweetie?"
I've never fully recovered from that day in my twenties when, as a newly promoted editor, I had an assistant for the first time. One afternoon, I heard her talking on the phone with my mother before I picked up the line. Afterward, I asked what they'd discussed. "She just wanted to know if you'd had a healthy lunch," she said.
Apologies, parents everywhere. We love you. We are more than happy to tell you about what we do at the office and how grateful we are for all that you've done for us. We wouldn't be where we are without you. But bringing you to work isn't going to do much for our egos…or career. Also: We'll probably never have an office because, sadly, open floor plans are the future.
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