Part time work and your teen

Gwen Randall-Young

A client asked me recently about the advisability of allowing teenagers to hold part time jobs. In the ensuing discussion, some important points were raised, both pro and con. One of the concerns was that the work would get in the way of school, either as a result of less time to study, or late hours which would result in tiredness and lack of concentration the next day.
It is my view that during these years school is of the highest priority because performance will profoundly affect the remaining years of the students’ lives. Nothing should be allowed to negatively affect school performance.
If the student is maintaining a respectable average, and seems able to organize time effectively, there are some real advantages to holding a part time job. The experience can be invaluable, and skills and abilities developed will come in handy in the future. As the student begins to earn some money, he/she can begin to contribute to personal expenses and can learn about money management.
They learn that work has its rewards, and how quickly money disappears! Budgeting time becomes just as important as budgeting money, and so there is an opportunity to begin learning about organizing time and reducing procrastination.
So how do you decide if working is right for your child? Firstly, it is important to discuss all aspects thoroughly before a decision is made. Let your child know the types of jobs that would be acceptable to you. There may be some places where you do not want your child working because of the atmosphere or the late hours. You need to set limits on the number of hours per week, particularly during school nights.
You might also want to discuss what will be done with the money earned. Certainly, the student should have access to his/her own money, however you may not feel like you can support your child in working if all of the money is blown at the mall (or worse) each week. A good habit to get into is saving a certain percentage of each paycheck. You can show your teen the value of investing while still young.
If your child really wants to work, the following requirements are recommended:
1) acceptable school average or
2) demonstrate ability to raise average during this term
3) average must be maintained or job must go
4) maintain responsibilities around home
5) talk about what portion of earnings will be saved, spent on necessities, and what amount can be spent on what they want.
Starting a job is a big responsibility, and it can help students to become more responsible. Remember, you will not see as much of them, and they may be a little more stressed at times, but if it’s something they really want to do, give them the opportunity to demonstrate that they are ready.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.