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Deciding if a part time job is right for your teenager

teens_at_workHaving a teenager can be a difficult time, and being one can be even harder. It’s a strange time in their life as they aren’t a kid anymore, but they still rely on people to assist them with decision making. There has been an increase of teenagers joining the workforce in recent years, and the idea of letting adolescents work has been a heavy debate for years. If you and your teenager are trying to decide if getting a part time job is right for their path, there are a few things to consider:

Those in Favour

There are many parents who support the idea of their teenager having a part time job, and some even demand if of their kids. Here are some of the most common discussion points:

  • It teaches them responsibility. Being on time, having specified tasks to complete, and being accountable for their own finances are skills that a part time job can help teach a teenager, and those are things that are needed all throughout life.
  • It eases them into adulthood. Being an adult is a balancing act, and having your teenager manage a day at school, a few hours at work, and social relationships will help him/her prepare for the “real world.” Being thrown into adulthood can be a harsh transition for those who had no chance to prepare, and giving them a small taste of reality will lead to a better chance of them easily adjusting.
  • It keeps them out of trouble. Kids who are kept busy are less likely to get in trouble because having something to do will keep them focused. Teenagers with plenty of spare time on their hands tend to be more inclined to experimenting with things that could lead them down a negative path.
  • It’s good for experience. Starting a job at a young age is great for gathering experience, skills, and references to put on a resume, and it’s always easier to get a job later on in life if you’ve been in the work force for a while.

Those Opposed

For every argument in support of teens holding down a job, there are just as many justifications for those against the idea, and here are the most common concerns:

  • It interferes with their schoolwork. A teenager’s main priority should be school, and having a job to focus on and keep up with could distract them from what’s really important. Doing well in school is what’s going to set them up for success in the future, and they shouldn’t feel compelled to try and hold down a job in the midst of developing their academic career.
  • It pushes them to grow up too fast. In the final years of their childhood, teens should be focused on their education and enjoying being carefree with their friends. They have all the time in the world to learn the responsibility of earning money and balancing relationships. Youth is something they can only experience once, and having to squeeze time in with their friends between school and work could be nearly impossible to do.
  • It leaves minimal time for self-discovery.  Teens need time to be themselves and think their own thoughts. Having to focus on what someone is instructing them to focus on for seven hours a day in school can be overwhelming, and adding a job on top of that could severely stifle the time they have to contemplate what it is that really inspires them about life. Limiting the time they have for self-exploration could lead to indecisiveness or misdirection later on down the road.
  • It’s too much to handle. A typical day at school tends to be about the length as a full day of work for most people, and when you add up the time it takes them to complete their homework, they might not be finished with everything until late in the evening. Trying to put the responsibility of a part time job on top of all that would be too much for anyone to handle.

Making Your Decision

Now that you have heard both sides of the argument, it’s time for you and your teen to make a decision. Whether it’s you pushing for your teen to start working, or it’s your child’s idea, make sure to talk with your child, not at him/her. Effective communication is the key to reaching a peaceful resolve, and if you’re willing to consider letting your child go into an adult world, then hear them out like one. Try reaching a compromise if you hold clashing views; maybe a job working only weekends would be a good starting point. At the end of the day, all that matters is that both you and your teen feel that the best decision possible was made.