(Editor’s note: Today our guest blogger is Liz Greene)
As a parent, you make decisions for your kids based on nothing more than your gut feeling and a good dose of common sense.
However, once they hit those freewheeling teenage years, things start to change. Suddenly, they’re making a lot more decisions for themselves, and you’re just holding on, hoping they’ll accept your guidance. One of the biggest choices teenagers face is whether or not to get a part-time job.
As a teen, I had a part-time job as a server in a retirement home. At the time, I loathed my boss and the rules he made. Now, years later, I realize how much I gained from those months in the service industry. I learned to cooperate in a work environment with people I didn’t necessarily get along with and I learned how to figure out a way to hold washed plates so I didn’t get burned. Most of all, I learned with any job you can always find a silver lining; mine being the relationships I built with the senior residents.
I feel like every teen can benefit from getting real life work skills. But before you give your teen the green light, take these pros and cons into consideration.
Work skills serve teens well in college and prepare them for careers in adulthood. Time management, problem solving, communication, working under pressure — these are all soft skills that look fantastic on a resume or college application and are great to get at a young age. Furthermore, the right job may provide networking possibilities that set your teen on the path to a lifetime career. Working teens meet new people and have new experiences – creating positive memories that last a lifetime.
Earning money enables teenagers to learn how to effectively manage finances. Even if they’re only using their paychecks to bankroll their own expenses, they learn to budget between clothes, entertainment, and bills. These new-found skills instill confidence, a sense of responsibility, and independence.
Can your teen handle it? Unfortunately, there can also be negative consequences to teen employment, such as reduced time for homework, less school involvement, and increased stress.
Having a job can also negatively affect a student’s grades. Students who work more than 20 hours a week have lower grade point averages than students who work fewer hours per week. For those same teens, research shows that substance abuse is higher – partly because older coworkers can lead them astray.
How Parents Can Help
Sit down with your child before they apply for employment and discuss the pros, cons, and responsibilities of having a job. Come to an agreement on how your teen will use his income, whether it be helping out with family finances, saving for college, or for fun. This will help to avoid future conflicts about money.
Teach your teen how to manage demands made on his time. This is a necessary skill that will serve him well in adulthood. The teenage years are a good time to learn to use time and resources wisely.
The truth is, a part-time job can be a wonderful experience for teenagers – as long as it’s paired with the right parental guidance. It’s not easy to let your kids loose into the world of employment, but the benefits are numerous. It would be a shame not to let them get that leg up into the world of adulthood.
Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene