While “Go Get a Job” can become the go-to response for parents whose children are regularly asking for money, getting a job is a big decision for both adolescents and their parents. The purpose of this article is to help parents think through the reasons why an adolescents should get a job. While getting your child away from the house may be helpful, as one parent said, “There needs to be a measurable, attainable goal.”
Here are some good reasons to allow your adolescent to “Go Get a Job:”
1. Financial Need
Parents should communicate to their children through word and deed that they are not a source of endless money regardless of their life stage. One parents says, “Whether or not my children get a job is up to them, but I will not be handing out free money.” Saying no to your children’s financial demands is great motivation for them to get a job, and develops a sense of personal autonomy.
© 2008 Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio
I have seen so many parents take second jobs, and work around the clock in order to fulfill each demand of their adolescent children. This is especially true in today’s world when college is perceived as an entitlement rather than an opportunity. Speak regularly with your adolescents to set their expectations about college. One parent says her children, “worked hard for the privilege of getting a higher education. I don’t think they’ll take it for granted, ever.” Parents should not be seen as benefactors of their children, but both children and parents are participants within the family system.
2. Learn Skills
Entry-level jobs can teach skills that are key to life development. One emerging adults states, “A job helped me to learn skills to keep a work schedule, manage my own money and time, and interact with managers, bosses, and coworkers.” Another Emerging Adult says, “As a soccer referee, I learned how to treat people professionally even when they don’t reciprocate.” This emerging adult took his soccer knowledge, and turned it into a vocational skill. Skills learned by adolescents include: responsibility, time management, the value of work, working with others, working with customers, computer skills, dealing with authority, and business etiquette.
© 2009 Alex France, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio
Adolescents are ready to begin a life-long journey of finding work that will provide for themselves and those they love. In these early jobs, emerging adults can learn what type of work fulfills them. For example, an adolescent can learn whether they enjoy working with people, or working alone. One emerging adult reflects, “I wish looking back that I had invested more in jobs that would have prepared me for a career after school, by focusing on getting administrative or service experience. Instead, I went for what worked with my schedule and paid the most.”
4. Social Skills
While getting your kid out of the house should not be the only motivation, your child must learn to develop new social networks. Learning social skills including: listening, following authority, smiling, contributing to conversations, and managing conflict are crucial. One emerging adult shares their experience. “I just liked the job, because I had a friend who worked there so we had a blast working together, and all the adults in the place loved us and treated us like their kids. I’m still FB friends with most of them.” Sometimes parents want to protect our children from outside influences during high school; however, it is important that adolescents are able to build their own social network.
A workplace setting will require the adolescent to develop autonomy. As a parent, you must allow them to make their own decisions and face the consequences. It is not your job to wake them up for work each morning, to call their boss, or to fill out their paperwork. If an adolescent’s first job comes through family connections, it is even more important that parents stay out of their work world, and allow the child to achieve or fail based upon their own performance.
There are several reasons to encourage your children venture out into the world of work. One parent writes, “each family has to look at the individual kid and see what makes sense for them and the family. Every child will be different.”
May God guide you as you reflect on your child’s developmental needs.
Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.