Things Parents Should Consider Before Letting Their Teen Work

working teens, summer jobs, teen jobs, job experience, internships, college tuition

Dana is a 16-year-old from San Diego, CA. Her love of reading and writing has allowed her to share the experiences and lessons that have taught her so much with countless others. She enjoys traveling to new places, dancing and cooking, and hopes that one day she will both work in the education field and become a published author.

You’ve raised them well for the last eighteen years and now, they’re ready to go on their own, right into the adult world. College is ready to whisk teens away into a hurricane of pursuing majors, dealing with roommates who refuse to turn off the lights until three in the morning, and making do with either stale or greasy cafeteria food. But the blissful college experience comes with a price – for most schools, it ranges from $18,000 to $55,000, plus expenses for transportation, clothes, and other necessities in a young adult’s life.

That’s why 80% of American teens have part-time jobs by the time they graduate from high school, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Teens need jobs to pay for their tuition and it’s a valuable experience to hone life skills needed in “the real world.” However, teen jobs have some pitfalls and require sacrifices to be made that parents should be aware of in order to make the right decision about whether or not their child should get a job:

1) Is the job for themselves or the family?

Often times, teens will take time out of their studies and get a job to support their family. They don’t plan on using the money for college or themselves, but they feel the need to make feeding one more family member’s mouth easier by working a job. Different situations call for different solutions, but keep in mind that while your teen may be learning how to support a family by working a job, he or she may be sacrificing their own time such as time for schoolwork and extracurricular activities – things that may need to be considered with greater importance at this crucial pre-college stage of your teen’s life.

2) Where does the money go?

If the money your teen earns goes straight to their savings account, then that’s great. They’ll need it for college. But if their weekly earnings are spent on that new pair of Seven jeans or the newest video game, then working a job is not quite worth it if your teen works three hours a day, four times a week, including on school nights.

3) Is it really necessary?

Although teen jobs look great on college resumes, working a job just to impress the college admissions team means that internships would be a better choice.

4) Is it time-consuming/do the benefits outweigh the sacrifices that need to be made?

Again, many teens complain that they’re exhausted from working overtime or covering other people’s shifts at their jobs. They can handle homework and such, but still, that’s three hours cut from the six to seven hours they have left to do work when they come back from school.

5) What type of job is it?

If a teen’s going to work a job, it should be something that truly sparks their interest, not just a job to get-by with for that weekly pay-check. While the work experience is beneficial, teens should also learn to follow their dreams and passion – jobs shouldn’t be any different.

In short, teen jobs are great, but it’s crucial that the decision to work a job be made with parents who can help weigh which things are more important in their teen’s life.

Photo Credit: SteFou! from Flickr

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