Should I Make My Kid Get a Job? – If Yes, What Age?
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A life with purpose is a life worth living. This is true for people of all ages. Children need to have purpose in their lives.
A job can give them that meaning. It also teaches responsibility and maturity. A job is almost always a positive choice for a child.
Should a Child Have a Job?
A child should have a job. It provides them with a sense of responsibility and shows them a different world outside of home and school. However, children should not have jobs that interfere with their education. They should also not work in environments that unsafe or too demanding.
What’s the Positive Impact of a Kid Getting a Job?
Responsibilities start small. Children first learn to be responsible by brushing their teeth, tying shoes and picking up toys. As children grow, those responsibilities become more important.
They have to buckle their seat belts, wear helmets when riding bikes and look both ways before crossing a street.
We begin to take these things for granted when children reach their teen years, but responsibilities are still important.
Having a job is arguably the best way for a teen to develop responsibility. They cannot rely on parents or teachers to guide them while they are working.
It is fully up to them to show up on time and perform their duties to the best of their ability. They then reap the rewards by earning an income.
Successfully holding a job also increases a teenager’s self-confidence. It can help to improve mental health as well.
A teen who suffers from stress-induced anxiety may actually benefit from a job as it requires them to learn coping and time management skills that are necessary as they grow.
A benefit of a job that is often overlooked is the high school resume. Many colleges and universities look favorably on those students who have shown themselves to be able to hold a job while in high school.
Having a job can help your child get into their target schools and even earn scholarships.
What’s the Right Age for a Kid to Work?
The best age to start working will depend on your child. The Fair Labor Standards Act states that children cannot be employed under age 14.
Most states have additional laws that limit or prohibit the employ of children under the age of 16. Most parents consider 16 to be the right age for a child to have their first job.
Children under 14 can work for themselves in a freelance capacity. Babysitting, landscaping and dog walking are common gigs for children who aren’t old enough to be hired but still want to earn some money.
A child as young as eight could make money with a lemonade stand or similar entrepreneurial activities.
It isn’t necessary to make a young child get a job, but a teenager should consider it. If nothing else, you should ask your teenager to contribute to gas money and auto insurance costs if they are driving.
For most kids, the only way to do this is with a paying job.
What’s the Wrong Kind of Work for a Kid?
The Fair Labor Standards Act also protects children against working in unsafe conditions. Kids should not work in factories, heavy construction or labs without the appropriate training and/or safety measures.
You should not push your child into a career that you desire for yourself. I speak from personal experience in this matter.
My father wanted to be a musician but it didn’t work out for him. When I was seven, it became my responsibility to fulfill his dreams. I worked as a singer for many years. Evenings were filled with practices and rehearsals.
Weekends were various gigs. Another child might have loved that life. I didn’t. In fact, it destroyed any love of music I might have otherwise had.
Stage parents are notorious for forcing their children to work. However, other parents can push their kids in unhealthy ways as well.
For instance, a plumber friend of mine insists that his children learn his trade so that they can take over the family business despite the fact that the kids have no interest in plumbing.
You probably know people who have followed in their parents’ footsteps because it was pushed on them. Maybe this is your situation. It’s not healthy to not let children follow their own dreams.
True, it might not be a child’s dream to work at McDonald’s, but it is important to let your child forge their own path.
Why Your Child Shouldn’t Work
I fully believe a job is a good thing for a child. I also understand it isn’t always possible.
For example, my own 16-year-old does not have a job and isn’t looking for one. Though my husband and I both think a job would be good for him, the reality is he doesn’t have time.
My son is heavily involved in school activities. He is in student government, plays football, is on the speech team and is in the school play. He currently has a 4.3 GPA while taking a full load of honors and AP courses.
His father and I have agreed that he is learning plenty of responsibility through his studies and extra-curriculars. He isn’t earning money, but he is achieving success in other ways.
Children like my son who already have so many responsibilities may not need to work. Likewise, a child who is struggling with keeping their grades up may not benefit from yet another duty that adds to an already busy life.
If your family is not reliant on an income, a different option is volunteerism. Rather than insisting your child have a job, you should consider volunteering as a worthwhile alternative.
Teenagers who are employed feel better about themselves, learn skills needed for a successful life and earn an income.
Talk to your teenager about getting a job as soon as you feel they are ready. What kind of job did you have as a teenager? Tell us in the comments!