Fewer and fewer high school age kids are working these days. There are lots of jobs: Fast food service, summer landscaping, pizza delivery, auto detailing, data entry, and step-and-fetch-it jobs for teens in almost every industry. The list of potential money-making opportunities is almost endless, but there seems to be a lack of wanna.
Snowplow parents, who run to remove every obstacle in the way of their child’s success and happiness are part of the problem. They don’t want their golden boy or girl to ever say the words, “Do you want fries with that?” Frankly, the idea of “Reginald” washing cars, or raking leaves is embarrassing. But these parents are missing the point of employment. Having a job for a teen is an education in itself, that allows a young person to develop the capacity to take responsibility, learn time management skills, reliability, and perhaps the best: To come under authority and take direction.
A few developmental psychologists contend that employment “denies youth an essential adolescent moratorium free from adult pursuits, stressors and responsibilities.” Yes. Jobs do that. So, of course, we don’t want teenagers spending 40 hours a week in a coal mine, but they also have to grow up sometime. A job waiting tables, babysitting or a 9-to-5 filing job in an office during the summer months can teach them the ultimate lesson central to living a comfortable life: Money comes from work.
I love the warning Dave Ramsey makes in his best-selling book, Smart Money Smart Kids. He says, "If your child graduates from high school and his only skill set consists of playing video games, whining, copping an attitude of entitlement, and eating junk food, you have set him up to fail."
In our work, helping reentrants find employment, we’ve learned that many of the people coming out of incarceration never had a real job. In fact, a science.org report revealed that nearly half of unemployed U.S. men have a criminal conviction by age 35. Said sociologist Sarah Lageson of Rutgers University, “It is clear that joblessness is a primary contributor to crime and incarceration.”
This is real life, and since a successful life involves work, we as parents we must model the act of working. When a child never sees anyone with a schedule, who gets up and goes to work, having responsibilities and bringing home a paycheck, he or she has no “map” for getting and keeping a job. There’s no GPS app for this.
We’ve got to put in the effort,