To Work or Not to Work?
Sooner or later most parents will be faced with the question of whether their teen should get a part-time job.
Like every other question in life, there's no "right" answer that fits every teenager and every situation. But here are some solid points to consider:
- Does your teen want to work or is it someone else's idea? There's a better chance of success if it's your teen's idea.
- How old is your child? State and federal laws regulate types of jobs and the hours that can be worked by those younger than 18.
- What type of job is it? Is it safe? Will your teen learn from it? There are many benefits for students who work in moderation.
- Is your teen thinking of a weekend job or an after-school job? BIG question. If it's a weekend job, the primary issues are logistical—how to get to the job, arranging the job to match family plans, etc. A part-time job during the school week can be much more complicated.
- Does your child need the time to study? A job doesn't necessarily put a teen's learning at risk if the student can balance work with schoolwork and recreational time. For example, students who don't work score only slightly higher on the ACT than those who have regular, part-time jobs. But many studies point to a drop in grades when more than 15 hours are worked each week.
- Is your teen's income a necessity or a luxury?
- Will your child have enough time for sports, hobbies and social activities? Students who work long hours often miss out on social and intellectual development gained from participating in school clubs and athletic teams.
- Does your teen understand the commitment needed and what it will mean to his or her other activities and free time? Make sure your teen knows what you expect regarding his or her school performance and family obligations.
Work can be valuable for teens because it can help develop confidence, maturity and social skills. And, in some cases, it can help a student make decisions about future jobs. You can help make sure the amount of work is balanced with your child's obligations to school and other responsibilities.