Business talk at the dinner table: why it is a good idea for your kids.

Talking about business at the dinner table is a great way to give our kids information about jobs and worklife.  Eventually they are going to have to decide on a career and the more jobs they know about, the more likely they are to be able to choose one that suits them.

Growing up, many of us have heard the admonition from Mom or Dad that there would be no talk about business at the dinner table.  Of course, this was usually brought up when one of them started complaining about work that day and the other parent stepped in to change the subject.  Usually with something along the lines of, "So Larry, how was YOUR day?  What did you learn at school?"

As our kids get older, the opportunities for the whole family to sit down to dinner will decline.  Friends, events, all sorts of external influences will compete for your child's time.  Even when you can pull everyone together it may feel rushed as we all seem to have things we need to do right away and eating quickly so we can get back to Facebook is our main priority.  The dinner table may be an educational environment for our kids for a limited window of time.  Why waste it reviewing things that the kids already know about (like what happened at school today)?  Take advantage of their "forced" attention to broaden our kid's minds with a discussion about... yes, I am going to say it... work.

My son has recently become much more familiar with what a recruiter does thanks to our dinner conversations.  As we all sat down to eat the other night, I mentioned casually to my wife that the client I was working with had decided to offer the job to one of my candidates.  My wife said, "great, that is good news". My son overheard (not surprisingly since he was sitting across from us) and realizing that he might have missed something important said, "What?! What? Tell me. What?"  Which means in 10 year old speak, "Would you say that again because I did not catch it the first time."  I swallowed my mouthful of ginger pork and reminded myself that repeating things over and over again is an integral part of parenting and then proceeded to tell him what I had said to my wife.

The discussion stretched on for several minutes as he asked questions like these below which allowed me to explain more about my business but also the business of my client and the job the candidate would be doing:

  • So you found a job for the person who was looking for a job? - Actually, what a recruiter does is find a person for a company that has an open job.  Outplacement is the business that finds jobs for people who are out of work.
  • What kind of job does he do? - He is a Sales Manager who will be responsible for selling the company's products to customers and also managing (teaching) the other sales people so that they can sell more.
  • What kind of company? - This company makes software that helps other companies keep track of things.
  • How did you meet him?  Is he your friend? - No, he is not a friend.  Although a friend of mine did introduce us (networking, referrals).

While this conversation could have occurred in other places (like the car), the dinner table is the most conducive to holding our kid's attention.  They know they have to sit until they finish eating and while they are at the table the only thing they can do is eat and talk (preferably not at the same time).  Take advantage of it!


  1. Larry, thanks for reminding us about this important communication. Regardless of the subject, when my daughter asks me a question about an adult conversation, I take it as a chance to educate her. Your advice is right on!


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