By Shellie Hochstetler
That was the big question in my house. As a parent, you want your kids to grow up to be moral, productive adults with steady, great-paying jobs and have the proverbial house with the white picket fence and the golden retriever on the porch. But they are just children right now, right? They are going to have their whole lives to work and work and work. But there are also some great lessons for teens to learn through having these jobs.
It teaches them responsibility. They have to answer to an employer, keep up with their work schedule, and manage various responsibilities.
It teaches them punctuality. This can be difficult for some teens, especially if it means being somewhere early on a summer morning! (Note: A broken nail is not a good reason for being late to work.)
It teaches them how to manage money. Hopefully. Unless your teen spends every cent as fast as they make it, like I used to! I just could never pass up the good deals at Goody’s!
It teaches them different types of social skills. They will soon learn that not every boss is fair. Also, they will have to learn how to deal with co-workers that could be somewhat challenging.
It teaches them to make choices in managing their time. A summer job could keep them from social activities. That’s not always bad, but sometimes it is. Summer camps, mission trips, vacations, and just down time are really important for our teens. They are in school 180 days for approximately 7 hours a day, which doesn’t include time for homework, extracurricular activities, or even friends. And they are still kids. Big, huge, fat responsibilities are coming quickly for our kids. How well we know that! Balance at this stage is imperative.
My husband and I started allowing our kids to get after-school jobs or summer jobs when they started acquiring more privileges. Driving the car, going to movies with friends, and “hanging out” can get expensive. Those things are privileges, not rights they obtained just because they happened to be born into our family. So it’s good for them to help pay for those privileges. In fact, it will make those privileges more meaningful to them.
Many teens view having a job as a form of independence. They don’t always realize that it also requires sacrifice. A sacrifice of time, mostly. You know your teen the best. Can they handle any more time constraints on their schedule? Do they need to have more responsibilities? I know a man who has four amazing sons, and all of them have grown up to be very successful. I asked this father what his secret was. He looked at me and said, “I kept them so busy they didn’t have time to get in trouble.”
What do you think? What are the pros and cons to teens having summer jobs? And at what age should they start working these jobs?