It used to be that most teenagers had part-time jobs.
We waited tables, we worked retail, we washed cars or mowed lawns or bagged groceries – whatever we had to do to put a little extra cash in our pockets and earn a bit of independence in the process.
Some of us actually needed the money to buy cars or gas, and others just liked the idea of having our own money, and also, it was fun to have a group of friends and somewhere to hang out that your parents approved without question.
Now, though, parents seem more reluctant to allow this foray into the world. They cite worry over their kid’s grades, their workload at school, or them already being overextended between school, sports, and family and friend functions.
As a result, fewer kids seem to want jobs, and tbh, after knowing what I know now about never being able to quit working, it’s pretty hard to blame them.
If you’re a parent, though, what’s the best way to go about making this decision?
Should you push your kid to work?
Let them decide for themselves?
The answer is, of course, not as simple as it first seems, but it’s important to remember that working can be just as important to your child’s maturity and and growth as anything else they will do in high school.
Brenda M. Brown, with College Aid Services, says working can also teach your child the true value of money, which will go a long way toward them making responsible financial decisions as an adult.
“Work experience allows teens to learn time management and practical job skills that can only help them in their daily lives when they go to college and after college.”
Dr. Ciara Smalls Glover, an associate professor at Georgia State University, agrees, and thinks that kids might also discover new avenues of interest – and perhaps a potential career path – along the way, too.
“Typically, we expect adolescents to make decisions about their future careers when they get to college and select a major.
That can be a daunting task for some.
Work or volunteer experiences can provide opportunities for students to better understand themselves.”
Experts do acknowledge that other activities, like socializing, clubs, and sports, are also good for you child’s health and development, but believe a balance can reasonably be struck.
“Having too many work hours can compromise an adolescent’s energy and investment in schoolwork, and that has implications for more than school grades and graduation.
Adolescence is a key period of identity development, so time to explore self through social relationships contributes to this development.”
Which is to say, like in anyone’s life, balance is the key to it all.
Basically, there are major benefits to encouraging your teenager to start working when the child labor laws in your state allow it.
Make sure they’re doing okay and not giving up other things they enjoy, keep tabs on their pay and other official things to make sure no one is taking advantage of them, and they just might thank you later.
Probably not until they’re well into their 20s, though, and realize how lucky they are to have you.