Helping Your Child “Survive and Thrive” at their First Job

As a high school junior, I got my first job working in a small independent bookstore.  Our small staff loved each other, and what we did.  I left school early to work each afternoon, and then on Saturdays.  I have to admit that it was a great job – no sweating in the summer heat, or over a grill.

My job taught me a lot, and made me excited not just about the money, but about what I learned.  Since then, my jobs have not all been that fun (painting the behind urinals at a local prison) or easy (like scraping windows on the third story of scaffolding), but my first job taught me to love work, and to work hard.

How to help your child thrive at their first job.

1.  Clarify priorities.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2014.

The ability to make decisions based upon priorities is important skill as many will go to college where the academic and social options are endless.  Guide your child as they set their priorities.  One parent states:  “We encourage(d) our kids to prioritize: God, family, school, athletics & activities and finally work.”  Whether or not you agree with this family’s priorities, the discussion of priorities is essential.

When different opportunities arise (like school, work, or sports), adolescents need to learn the ability to say no to certain activities based on their priorities. One Emerging Adult reflects on how their choice to work affected other areas of their life.  “For me, work took the place of several extra-curricular activities.”   Do not allow your children to participate in everything, but force them to make choices at they get older.

2.  Set boundaries.

When adding a new role as worker (or employee), it is important for adolescents to set boundaries.  While vocational development and earning money may be important, it is not the only piece of your child’s development.  Therefore parents must help adolescents choose and uphold boundaries.

Here are some questions to discuss with your child:

a.  Will your child be allowed to work during family worship time?

b.  Will your child be allowed to miss other church activities? (Like youth group or retreats.)

c.  When will your child have access to a car?

d.  What hours/days of the week will your child be allowed to work?

e.  Are there restrictions on how paychecks will be spent?

f.  Who is responsible to pay for gas, insurance for the car?

One family described their rules, “[Our children] couldn’t work more than 15 hours a week.  They had to keep their grades up, to tithe (however much God led them to), and to save a little from each paycheck.

When a child [or their workplace] crosses a boundary, a parent has the right to enforce them.  This is not interfering, but parenting.  A parent does hold the ability to tell an adolescent that they can no longer work.  While living with their parents, our children need to know that holding a job, like all other adolescent activities is a privilege, and not their right.  Like other privileges, this freedom can be removed.

3.  Discuss expectations.

© 2011 DVIDSHUB, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

We all have expectations in life.  Sometimes adolescents know and communicate these expectation, but at others times they are hidden. If you want your child’s first work experience to be a success, discuss their expectations.  Ask your child what they expect in the areas of pay, hours, the type of work, the work environment, and their interactions with others.  If their expectations are unrealistic, help them research the facts on-line, rather than simply bursting their bubble.  Help them envision and define what success will look like for them whether it is becoming a manager, or making a friend.

Not everyone will have a dream job while in high school, but it can be a positive experience when priorities are established, expectations are discussed, and boundaries are set.  So whether your child is digging dirt, flipping burgers, or selling books – guide them in how to have a healthy perspective of vocation.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is thankful for all those who helped him survive and thrive during his vocational journey.

A Guide for Setting Expectations on Emerging Adults in Your Church Community  

Group of EAThank you for believing in emerging adults!  May God guide you as you seek to set expectations on emerging adults in your community.

Before you begin:

  • Include church leadership from the highest level.
  • Include emerging adults in the discussion (participation will cause ownership).
  • Educate participants on the current challenges and characteristics of emerging adults.
  • Hand out discussion questions before the meeting.

Discuss Questions:

  • What characteristics do we desire for our emerging adults to have?  How are we going to help them develop those characteristics?
  • Is it our goal to provide an extended “youth group” experience that will keep them interested in church?
  • How will we assimilate them into the adult population and activity of our community?
  • What are the needs of emerging adults in our community?  How are we specifically designed to meet any of those needs?
  • What roles do we desire for our emerging adults to have within our congregation?  How are we going to identity and create space for them within our community to help them fit those roles?
  • What kind of relationships are important for emerging adults?  What can we do to provide ways for these to be established?
  • What problems are emerging adults facing?  How can we empower them as they face these obstacles?

Before you leave:

  • What are some actions steps to take because of your discussion?  Who is taking responsibility for each step?
  • When will we meet again to check in about progress in this area of our ministry?
  • Are there any key players that were not able to attend, but need to brought into this discussion?

This is just the beginning of issues that need discussed by churches.  Add your thoughts or questions to the article by commenting below.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  If he can help your community minister to emerging adults, you can contact him at


What if your 20’s weren’t what you expected?

Millennials who are said to have been pampered and babied through life are often unfairly characterized as being delusional and selfish.  Rather than characterize a generation in a negative light, we should seek to personally minister to those emerging adults that God has placed around us.  It is not just emerging adults who struggle because they thought life would be easier.  All humans struggle with overcoming broken dreams and failing expectations.

Pain isn’t a Respector of age, but it comes on the young and the old alike.  Life is hard, but God is good.

The author states that when facing disappointment, we “need to grow new expectations, ones that wait for God to show up in ways we couldn’t imagine, to expect seasons of joy and grace in the midst of difficulties. We need courage to find new dreams when our old ones aren’t happening.”   

I found this article applicable to those in their 20’s, and to all who are wrestling with broken expectations.