I started working at 16 years old, and I remember my first job vividly. I worked in an office helping to make copies, file papers, and deliver coffee. It was a summer job and I was so excited to have my own money. I learned to deal with people and adjusted to a time schedule. When my 16-year-old wanted to get a job, of course I said “yes.” I guess I didn’t realize at the time how much simpler it was when I was a teen. The pros and cons of navigating a first job for your teen should be considered. On the surface, it might seem like an easy choice. However, like everything “teenager,” it might need to be looked at a bit closer so things go as smoothly as possible.
Time: Your teen will have to navigate a time schedule that they may or may not be ready to handle. School, extracurriculars, and “chill time” will have to be factored in. Something will have to give. Some of that time will be family time. If your teen already struggles with this, they might really have difficulty adjusting to this added responsibility.
Money: This sounds like it should be on the “pros” list—and it will be. However, money is a double-edged sword. Your teen will enjoy the money, but money management is an adult-level skill. You will need to set some ground rules, and that may be tricky. Money will be spent on things you don’t agree on. Get ready for it.
Stress: Just like our own jobs, teen jobs can cause stress. Your teen will be required to learn new things and navigate new situations. This can be stressful. Your teen may or may not adjust well to this, so be prepared to help. They may need some advice, an encouraging word, or just a sounding board. It might be hard to figure out how to help, but make sure you are there for them.
Responsibility: Your teen will gain responsibility. They will be required to show up on time and do their job. Time management will be a “thing.” They will be responsible for certain tasks. These are all good stepping stones to becoming a productive adult. It is quite amazing to watch as they grow into the role of a responsible employee.
Money: Your teen will earn his/her own money and will develop some financial skills. They should be required to save some money and also think about what purchases to make. They will need to budget if they have a long-term goal of a large purchase. These are important life skills.
Self Confidence: Often teens will grow in their confidence as they learn new things in their jobs. They will be relied on and will have to deal with various situations. As they learn to do these tasks, they will become more aware of their abilities. They will be exposed to new types of people and deal with different personalities. They will grow in their social skills.
As you navigate this with your teenager, be open to changes that will occur. Your teen will grow up through this new endeavor. They will have new experiences that you have no control of. They may realize it isn’t quite what they expected and decide they aren’t ready for a job yet (or you may realize they aren’t ready for this yet). It will all work out either way. As in all things “teenager,” it will be unique and at their own pace. Be by their side in this new rite of passage.