Okay. I admit it.
I took my 10-year-old to the PRSA International Conference this year. And yes, I worried a little about what people would think. After all, who takes a kid to a professional conference (and actually makes him attend meetings and sessions)? Would people judge me as a bad professional for having my child with me? Worse, would people judge me as a bad mother?
In the end, I figured that if anyone could take a child with her to a conference, it should be me, the chair of PRSA’s own Work, Life & Gender Committee. After all, if I’m not going to model work-life integration for my peers, who else is going to do it?
As things turned out, having my child with me at Conference was a wonderful experience, meaning that we got to spend meaningful time together, both at the Conference and away from it.
Partly, this was because my child was on his best behavior (not to impress my colleagues, but to earn cable TV and in-room coffee privileges). Partly, this was because we were in Washington, D.C., a very child-friendly host city. But mostly, this was because my PRSA colleagues showed so much support for my choice.
PRSA staff let him make his own name tag for assembly (Title: Video Games Master). PRSSA staff let him have an extra dessert at the students’ awards banquet. And PRSA International Conference attendees engaged him in conversation that was neither condescending nor patronizing. He even got to chat a bit with PRSA’s chair-elect, Rosanna Fiske (@fiskey), who is an educator, like myself.
Rosanna: So, what grade would you give your mom?
Child: Well, probably a C-plus or a B-minus.
Me: What?! That’s it?!
Child: Well, on this trip, you’ve been more like an A-minus.
Hmm. From the perspective of work-life integration, that sounds like an A-plus to me!
Dr. Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR, is associate professor in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University. She chairs the National Committee on Work, Life, & Gender, which is currently seeking volunteers for 2011. Connect with Bey-Ling on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @DrSha.
For more coverage on the PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress, visit PRSA Intelligence, follow #prsa_ic and the Conference blog.
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