A first job is an opportunity for a teen to learn responsibility, as well as understand the value of the dollar. Although it is important to emphasize these life-building skills, parents do not want teens to sacrifice learning for quick cash. Parents and young adults need to discuss the benefits and risks of a job before a decision is made.
- The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that in 2014 approximately 20.1 million youth between the ages of 16-24 worked a job. This number seems to indicate that many parents and teens see the value of employment while continuing to study through high school and college. Here are some of the pros:
- A job fosters a sense of responsibility in a teen. There are requirements to arrive on time, fulfill work tasks and listen to authority figures.
- Teens gain a sense of confidence and learn to interact with coworkers, customers and bosses.
- They can understand the value of money. Parents should encourage teens to open a checking account to learn basic personal finance skills.
- A job might also require a car to get to and from. If teens want to own their own car, with a job, they can help with the payments. Before they take to the road, make certain they practice good driving skills and maintenance.
- Family Education studies show that teens who work 10-15 hours a week tend to pull higher grades than students who opt out of employment.
- Sustaining a job will help teens better manage time, as they must budget time between school, work and play.
There are identifiable disadvantages to your teen's pursuit of a job while in school. These cons can depend on your teen, but parents must assess whether their child is at an increased risk to fall into one of these behaviors.
- Teens who work may sacrifice extracurricular or social activities because their jobs are after school.
- Grades may suffer because some teens have trouble juggling school and work responsibilities.
- There is a risk that teens may engage in high-risk behavior, like drugs and alcohol, because they are exposed to coworkers who are older.
- Teens may feel stressed and rushed because they are not able to balance responsibilities.
- General anxiety might increase if they are not able to manage the pressures of the real world.
The Right Decision
Parents and teens need to discuss whether it is the right decision to work. Determine if your teen will be up to the task to manage both school and work. Ask these questions:
- Why does your teen want the job? Is it to make extra money? Is it a form of escape? Is it way to shirk other responsibilities in school?
- Is your teen able to maintain grades prior to acquiring a job? Determine what is on your teen's academic schedule and whether he or she fulfills class requirements.
- Devise a contract between you and your teen which states your expectations on school requirements. If grades start to drop, then agree with your teen that he or she may need to decrease hours or quit the job.
- If you decide that your teen is prepared to take the job, continue to monitor how he or she manages school, home and work.
If your teen decides he or she wants a job, try to assess the risks and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this increased responsibility. Have a frank conversation. It will give both teens and parents some guidelines on what to expect.