Why Your Teenager Should Get A Job

With four teenagers in the house, I have heard from many (ok, mainly grandparent types) that these young people should have jobs by now. For a few years, I resisted. I told my kids (and those saying they should be working, and not mooching off their parents) that soon enough they would be in the workforce, and that they would be for the rest of their lives. Be young and carefree for as long as you can, I said. However, recently I have had a change of heart and mind.

A while ago, my second eldest came home from school, and informed me that there was a trip to Peru in the works, and that she wanted to be on it. When I tried to let her know that it might not be in the cards financially, she insisted that she would pay for it herself. When asked how she would manage that, she informed me that she would get a job. (Not her first one, she did work all last summer, but did not have the funds to pay for the trip outright.)

I was tempted to trot out my line of “be a kid for as long as you can be”, but then reconsidered. Getting a part-time job is something that millions of teenagers have been doing for as long as they have needed and wanted money.

But there are benefits for teens other than padding their bank accounts. While in school, most students will, at one time or another, have to work on group projects for various subjects. And while working together in class is supposed to teach kids how to work once they are done with school, the fact is, that if a particular group dynamic does not seem to work well the teacher can easily switch up group partners to make things easier for the students in question. It is not quite that simple in the real world of employment. Working part-time will help teens learn how to handle the different personalities they will encounter throughout their lives.

Along with learning how to deal with others, the sense of independence and pride at earning their own money helps teenagers develop self-confidence that carries over into other areas of their lives. Recently, I asked my eldest if he needed me to buy him new clothing. “No,” he said. “I buy my own clothes now.” The pride in his voice made this mother’s heart swell.

When it comes to school, there are some teenagers who have a more laid-back attitude towards completing assignments and attending classes. Having a job teaches them responsibility – if you do not show up for class, you might fail, and have to re-do said course. And in most schools, there is a built-in safety net of extra chances to pass. If you do not show up for work, you get fired.

So, while one part of me would like my kids to stay home and be “kids”, the benefits of them holding down jobs outweighs my desires. Eventually they will be out of the house, and the lessons learned from working now will stay with them for a lifetime.

And, once in a while, they treat the rest of us to dinner. It’s a win-win.