Should Your Child Hold a Job?

In some families, the expectation is for a child to hold a series of jobs beginning at an early age. Newspaper routes give way to babysitting, and as soon as the child is legally able, he or she gets a regular part-time job. Other families believe very strongly that a child's job is to go to school, and forbid any sort of employment until after the child finishes high school. Both positions have extremely vocal proponents and strong reasoning behind the choices. If you are on the fence, however, it can be difficult to decide what is best. Here is a parents' guide to deciding whether your child should hold a job.

How Responsible is Your Child?
Adding a job to an already full schedule can prove difficult for kids who have not yet developed self-discipline and time management skills. Additionally, employers expect responsibility and motivation from all employees, no matter how young. If your child still needs constant reminders
to do her homework, clean her room and come home on time, she may not be ready for a job.

On the other hand, if your child is reasonably mature for his age, a job can help him improve his still-emerging skills. If he is able to balance his schoolwork with extracurricular activities, perform his chores without reminders and follow household rules, he may well be able to successfully add a job to his schedule.

How Busy is Your Child?
A part-time job has a way of snowballing into a larger time commitment than initially expected. Although most employers are conscious of the conflicts and demands on the time of a high school student, the employers business is his main concern. Especially if your child is an excellent employee, she may find that her employer relies on her more and more. If your child's schedule is already full, adding a job may be impractical.

What Does the Job Entail?
The type of work, hours, job duties and level of responsibility
should all be considered before you permit your child to take a specific job. While employers are bound by state and federal child labor laws, you may have issues or concerns regarding a specific workplace or type of business. Be sure that both you and your child fully understand what the job will entail.

Ground Rules
As the parent, it is your right and responsibility to set ground rules for your child's employment. Be flexible on issues that are work-related, as the child will to some extent be at the mercy of the employer on such issues as extending work hours. However, it is reasonable to insist that the child's grades remain high and that he or she follows the household rules. Remind her that working is a privilege, not a right, and that she must demonstrate responsibility in order to keep the job.

Trial Period
If you are undecided as to whether your child should hold a job, consider instituting a trial period. Allow the child to take the job for a
certain period of time (perhaps a month). Let the child know in advance that this is a trial period, and give him the responsibility of proving to you that he can handle it.

The Bottom Line
There is no right answer to the question of whether a teenager should hold a job. Each child matures at a different rate, so what is right for one may not be right for another. As the parent, you know your child best. If your child is mature and responsible, a job can be a great way for her to continue to develop her skills. Maintain open communication with your child, insist that ground rules be followed, and consider instituting a trial period. Parenting is an inexact science, so experiment to see what works best with your child.