This may be news to you, especially if you hate kids, don’t have kids, or work from home, but April 27 is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Founded by Gloria Steinem way back in 1993 with the goal of exposing young girls to the workplace, it was expanded beyond its clearly sexist agenda a decade later to include boys too. Fair is fair, as Billie Jean says.
It’s a good idea in theory, but it’s something the parents among you should really think about before undertaking. At best, your children will get to see where their parents slave their days away and get a glimpse of their own depressing futures; but at worst, at worst you just might end up dead.
I present to you a cautionary tale in list form (obviously) of parents in movies whose own decision to bring their kids to work ended in tragedy, death, and in some cases … crazy hijinks.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Imagine: You’re a world-famous mathematician, known as much for solving tough equations as you are for pithy observations while under threat of dinosaur attack, and you’ve just been tasked with entering the reptilian domain once more. Of course you wouldn’t bring your daughter to work with you. But what Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster sequel presupposes is, what if she tags along anyway? Worse, what if she’s a budding gymnast? The end result is two-fold in that not only does she end up at risk of becoming lunch for some roving raptor, but she also becomes a source of embarrassment you’ll probably never live down when she saves your ass with a spontaneous routine on some conveniently placed uneven bars. It’s the kind of thing that might just keep you away from dinosaurs forever (or for 21 years, I guess, if the paycheck is right).
Friday the 13th (1980)
Seasonal work isn’t easy, but it’s even tougher on a single mom with a mildly deformed son. But you gotta put food on the table somehow, so when a job comes available at a summer camp, young Pamela takes it and brings along her little boy, Jason. Big mistake. While she goes about doing her job, her co-workers fail to do theirs — they’re too busy canoodling to keep an eye on swimming children — and little Jason drowns. That’s bad enough, but Pamela loses more than her son as the years pass and she loses her mind. What I’m saying is she snaps and begins murdering horny camp counselors.
Like Father Like Son (1987)
Jack Hammond is a successful doctor with hopes that his teenage son, Chris, will follow in his medical footsteps, but that desire takes a hit when the two swap bodies! Crazy! Trouble grows when Jack goes to the hospital in his dad’s body and proceeds to risk malpractice suits and termination with some inappropriate doctoring. He hands out pills willy-nilly, begins treating patients without insurance, and acts like a doofus. Does this count as bringing your child to work? Sure it does! The father’s body is bringing the son’s “non-body” to work. It’s magic.
Norma was a single mother trying to run a small motel and raise her son, Norman. Accomplishing both meant bringing him to work every day and making him work. She wouldn’t live to see it, but her parenting style — keeping the boy constantly at her side, being a tough boss to him, and maybe loving him a bit too much if you know what I mean and I think you do — leads to some devastating consequences. Not only does he grow up to become a serial killer who taints her good name and tanks her business, but he also stretches out some of her clothing by wearing it during inappropriate shenanigans.
The Secret of My Success (1987)
Howard Prescott is a successful CEO running a business he inherited from his father-in-law, but his downfall begins when he brings his sister’s child to work. The child in this case is his adult-ish nephew, Brantley, and he brings him in as a mail clerk, but it still totally counts. Unfortunately for Howard, his good deed is punished by Brantley’s precociousness, business savvy, and willingness to sleep with his own aunt. That’s right. Bringing a child to work can lead to incest. It only gets worse when Howard’s nephew and wife collaborate to boot him out of the business and take it for themselves.
The Shining (1980)
The opportunity to take on winter-caretaker duties at a remote, snowbound hotel is just what Jack Torrance is looking for, as it’s guaranteed to be an easy job affording him plenty of time to write the great American novel. It only makes sense to bring along the wife and kid for the season, but it’s not long before little Danny starts acting like a real jerk. He rides his Big Wheel up and down the hallways, makes up stories about naked old ladies, occasionally drools, and serves as a distraction from all the writing and drinking Jack would like to be doing. Can you blame the man for growing insanely frustrated? Maybe, but had he not brought the kid to the job, Jack wouldn’t have frozen to death in a misguided attempt to chase the child down and cleave his head in two with an ax.
Road to Perdition (2002)
One of the many problems with children is their habit of seeing things they shouldn’t have seen, and that’s exactly the trouble Michael Sullivan finds when he unknowingly brings his son along for a business meeting. His business is mob enforcer, up to and including killing when necessary, but he finds himself out of a job when young Michael Jr. sees the exchange of gunfire. The boy promises not to tell anyone, but everyone knows kids are liars, and soon the hitman and his boy are targets of the same mobsters he used to call co-workers and business acquaintances. His boy learns a valuable lesson about gun violence, but it doesn’t end well for Michael as his career choices come back to bite him in the ass one last time.
Catch That Kid (2004)
Life’s been tough for Molly ever since her husband fell while climbing, broke his back, and wound up paralyzed from the neck down. But on the bright side, she’s recently started a new job as head of security for a high-tech bank. She hoped they’d lend her money to cover her husband’s experimental surgery, but they refuse. Enter Molly’s daughter, Maddy, who decides to visit her mom’s workplace and rob those bastards blind. Knowing her daughter’s in big trouble, Molly is forced to accept the blame and risk being fired. It’s a kids’ movie, so it ends happily, but it should still be enough to give you pause before even letting your child know where you work.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Dr. Jones is a world-famous explorer, archeologist, adventurer, and college professor, but he meets his greatest challenge when he brings his son, Mutt, on an excursion to Peru. In Jones’ defense, he didn’t know the kid was his kid when he brought him into his “workplace,” but the damage is done. Not only does the greaser punk give his dad attitude and complicate the man’s adventuring, but he also threatens to tank Indiana Jones’ film career. Seriously, just watching Mutt swing from jungle trees has to be heartbreaking for his old man.
Bugsy Malone (1976)
I’ve been something of a stickler for the “bring your child to work” premise up until now (shut up, yes I have), but I’m going to cheat slightly with this final entry. Like Road to Perdition above, the workplace here is the violent world of mobsters, bootlegging, and gun molls — but all of the employees are children. So they’re kids who’ve brought themselves to work. Anyway, as you’d expect with minors running illegal gambling establishments, nightclubs, and gun deals, it’s not long before it all devolves into playful chaos. The youngsters break into song on a regular basis and gunfights become a regular event. Did I mention the guns all shoot creampuffs? Horrific. As if all of this pre-teen immorality weren’t bad enough, one of these kid workers grows up to be a real dick on Twitter and in real life, and you have to wonder if a more traditional childhood experience would have made Scott Baio a nicer, smarter adult.
Joe Somebody (2001)
OK, I lied. Bugsy Malone was supposed to be the last entry, but I’d be remiss in not including a movie that literally features a character bringing his daughter to work for Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Joe brings his girl in only to see it backfire before he even enters the building when a bullying co-worker severely embarrasses him in front of her. Devastated by what she must think of him, Joe sets out to better himself — beginning with challenging the jerk to another fight — and soon finds his life improving through a promotion, accolades from other co-workers, and a new girlfriend in Human Resources. On the surface it all ends well for Joe, but dig deeper and you’ll see two painful truths. His girlfriend quits out of some misguided attempt to protect him, thereby teaching a crappy lesson to Joe’s daughter that men’s jobs are more important than women’s. And two, the movie bombed.
Rob Hunter lives in California and is prohibited by law from having children.