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My son will be 15 in a few months and wants to work over the summer. This is something he's done since he was 10; he spends quite a bit of his summers haying with his grandfather.
The first summer he worked, he saved all his money and bought a new mountain bike. I'll never forget how grown up and proud he was the day we finally went to pick it out.
He is a kid who enjoys hard work—he always has and probably always will. While his friends are doing summer camps, playing sports, or having days at the lake with their family, my son would rather be earning money to buy something special for himself.
I've wondered these past few summers if I am doing him a disservice. Should I be making him take the summers off to just be a kid? Won't he have the rest of his life to work and earn money?
I've asked him a few times if there's something else he's rather do; perhaps a sleep-away camp, or simply more free time to sleep in and hang out with his friends? I've seen all the positivity that has come from him working, but I also want to make sure he is being a kid while he still can.
Should I be making him take the summers off to just be a kid? Won't he have the rest of his life to work and earn money?
I'm constantly praising him and telling him how proud I am about his work ethic, but I don't want him to feel that he is expected to do it every summer or school vacation.
I talked with Katie Rössler, LPC, NCC, creator of the From Stay at Home Mom to Chief Household Officer program. She says the benefits of teens working start with the interview process as it "helps them learn the importance of presenting themselves and communicating their abilities."
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The self-awareness that happens during this process is excellent practice for the coming years ahead—especially now since so many of teenagers communicate through their phones.
Rössler also notes it can help them develop a sense of accomplishment which can boost self-confidence—something I definitely noticed in my son after he started working. He may not be the star on any athletic team or get excellent grades, but he is a hard worker who is able to follow directions. He is developing great skills that are going to help him in the future, whether it's applying for college, a more important job, or working through a life problem.
These face-to-face experiences he's having with different people are teaching him that there are all different personalities in the world that he will have to work with, including those he may not mesh well with.
But you have to learn how to make it work and conduct yourself properly in a professional manner.
I also got some great insights from, Cameron Clark, a recent Harvard Law School graduate, college and law school admissions coach, and career advisor. Clark says the benefits go far beyond empowerment and self-confidence since these days, "applicants for jobs and academic programs are under increased pressure to show significant experience on their resumes."
Other life skills your teens are developing while working include "developing financial literacy skills, budgeting, and managing financial responsibilities," Clark says.
This isn't something they teach in school, but it is something you can be a part of with your teen. It can give you and your child peace of mind knowing when they go out on their own, they will have experience earning, saving, and budgeting their money.
Working is also a great way to teach your teens how to schedule their time—they have to show up when they are scheduled and meet certain expectations while they are on the job, or the likelihood of them keeping it the job isn't great.
They are held accountable for something other than chores at home and school work, and it helps them turn into a well-rounded individual.
My son is excited for his summer job. He really does enjoy it and doesn't feel he is missing out on anything. This summer he will be saving for a car. I know he'll appreciate a vehicle he is paying for on his own much more than if I just got him one, or he didn't have one to drive at all.
The importance of our kids working goes beyond earning a paycheck, and what they learn in the process will stay with them for a lifetime.