At the beginning of the summer, I challenged my two youngest children, then ages 12 & 13 to make some money this summer. Then life happened and our lazy, boring summer grew quite busy and my plans flew out the window.
Now before you jump down my throat, there are lots of odd jobs a 12 & 13 year old can do to make some spending money. Cut grass, babysit and help with random chores around the house and so on. That is what I had in mind.
And while my 12 year old son did do odd jobs for his grandparents during his month long visit, it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
I Can’t Get a Job because…
As we sat down this week to discuss the upcoming school year, I again charged my 13 & 14 year olds to get a job.
My 13 year old son immediately chirps up that he is not old enough to get a job. And he is right. Legally, you cannot work until you are 14 and that’s with a special permit.
Then my 14 year old says, what about my sports? She has practice every school day until 5:30pm and games a couple nights a week. I reminded her that her Saturdays are completely free and the perfect time for a high school student to work.
Why Children should Work Part Time
Now I’m now asking my young teenagers to get a job to pay any bills. Although they have been challenged with paying for their summer camp next year if they choose to attend.
There are numerous studies that indicate a child working part time hours excel in numerous areas:
- Time management.
- Dealing with people and emotions.
- Get better grades.
- Are more self-confident.
- Real work experience is valuable when they enter the workforce, especially if they do not plan to pursue a higher education or trade school.
You can join the debate and cast your vote here.
Even if they Don’t Actually Get a Job
My 13 year old has already locked in some neighbors for mowing their lawn for the rest of the season. And I’m confident that if he does a good job, they will call him when the leaves start falling or they need help with other manual labor.
He’s already excited about the money he knows he can early over the next couple of months with just a couple hours of work each week.
My 14 year old has not begun her job search yet. She’s waiting to get through the first week of school before hitting the streets.
And even if neither of them actually makes any money, they will have both learning some valuable lessons:
- How to apply for a job. Filling out applications can be a beast. And knowing what information you need on those applications is a lesson they will use forever.
- How to handle rejection. We all face it. Learning to hear “No” and not take it personally is an important lesson.
- How to be assertive. Just getting out and asking for work or for an application takes some character. Not everyone is outgoing, it takes some courage.
- How to search for a job. While most professionals do their searching online. There is still some value to getting out and “pouding the pavement.” Going door to door can teach lots of lessons, including knowing you do not want to have to search for jobs all the time. There is value in keeping a job.
There are several things you can do as a parent to prepare your child for the job search.
When They do Earn their Own Money
When they do earn their own money, they will learn several additional lesson.
First and foremost, they will learn the value of money. Every parent wants their child to value the hard work they put in to provide for them. Working for minimum wage, and seeing part of their pay go to taxes and social security is just a small dose of reality.
They will also see just how far their money can go, or not go in many cases. They quickly learn to be grateful for what mom and dad provide when they try to reproduce it on their own.
Second, hello money management! As they have more “wants” they learn how to save their money. And saving their money means they must do without sometimes.
Finally, the beginning of independence. Making their own money, managing their own money are the first steps to true adult independence.
There are many more reasons a teenager should work, you can find another list here.
Doing it under the watching eye and guiding hand of responsible parents gives them a leg up on the rest of the world. The key is that we as parents must let them fall at times too. If we correct every mistake and save them when they get in a bind, are they really learning?