How your work ethic influences your kids

Despite a crumbling job market, Emily Rivas follows the work ethic taught by her parents.

1WorkEthic-December2013-iStockphoto Photo: iStockphoto

According to a recent study released by the University of Michigan, a person's work ethic is influenced by their parents. The study found that workers fall under three categories: the job-oriented who focus on activities outside of work, career-oriented workaholics, and the calling-oriented who just want to change the world. These work orientations, University of Michigan business professor Wayne Baker says, are “a modern link between the meaning of work for parents and children.” Basically, the way you see the work you do will determine the way your children perceive their work in the future.

I am a workaholic. I genuinely find enjoyment in keeping myself busy and have grown up being told that my hard work would get me to where I wanted to be. I'm part of Generation Y— the group of ambitious dreamers who are stuck in a rut.

My baby boomer parents — refugees of the civil war in El Salvador — came to Canada in the late ‘80s and built our middle-class life out of nothing. My father went straight into warehouse work, whereas my mom went to school twice — once for dental assistance and later for dental hygiene.

I’ve always admired the hard work of both of my parents, but especially found it inspirational how my mom truly loves every minute of her job: from scraping plaque off the nastiest teeth imaginable, to educating people on how to properly floss and brush. This exact reason is why the study found that people close to their mothers, like me, regard jobs as more than just a job. But, those closest to their fathers will follow his career-orientated ways, if that is the case.

Despite the fact that my parents instilled the value of hard work in me at a young age, the truth is that baby boomers had a better chance of reaching that American (or Canadian) Dream, than my Generation Y does. The Huffington Post touched upon this topic in the form of an infographic created by Wait But Why titled “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy.” According to the infographic, baby boomers were raised by their Depression Era parents whose only wish for their children was economic security and practical, safe careers. Baby boomers, who spent the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s in economic prosperity, have raised Generation Y to be ambitious dreamers and to think they’re special — leaving them hopeful in a crumbling job market.

Paul Harvey, professor at the University of New Hampshire, found in his research that Generation Y has “unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback.” Another factor adding to why Generation Y is so unhappy includes social media constantly forcing one to stare in the face of others’ achievements — something baby boomers never had to deal with.


Regardless of what prospects the job market may or may not have for future generations, encouraging ambition and dreams will never become a negative part of parenting. If that is what has kept me working hard, who’s to say I shouldn’t pass it down to my own future child?

This article was originally published on Dec 09, 2013

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