Having a job is a way to learn responsibility, appreciate the value of a dollar and gain experience that will come in handy in the real world. For many teens, working is about more than just earning pocket change; it's a rite of passage that signifies growth and independence.
Is your child ready for this responsibility? Can he handle the demands on his time and successfully balance a part-time job with schoolwork and a social life? Is your offspring disciplined enough not to neglect his or her studies? And are you ready to cut the apron strings and understand all that your teen's commitment and paycheck mean to your family and household? Is it the child who has decided they want to work, or is it a friend's influence or a parent's mandate?
The age at which a child is prepared to venture into the business world will vary based on education, interests and availability. While each state may have its own rules regarding the employment of minors, the federal government also has its mandates. These rules are in place for the overall protection of our youngsters. Most parents agree that a part-time job is an important part of growing up. A job could help your teen develop the kind of work ethic that will carry them through their adult years.
Some of the jobs teenagers commonly take include: cashier, stock clerk, babysitter, dog walker, food service, camp aid, snow shoveling or lawn mowing, park work, newspaper delivery, and distributing leaflets and advertisements. These early jobs help to build resumes and develop likes and dislikes for various pursuits. Ideally, the young adult will look for work in an area of interest. Someone interested in a career in teaching might find a lot of enjoyment working with children in a day camp, for example. For kids younger than 16, employment hours are limited during the school year, with more leniency during summer and school vacations. For teens ages 16 to 18, there are fewer restrictions during the school year. Hazardous jobs, for the most part, are off limits to those under 16.
Time management is important if your child wants to get a job. Help your teen make a list of hours devoted to school, afternoon activities, homework and socializing, and then assess what hours are reasonably available for work. Many parents prefer that their children work on the weekends instead of during the school week in order to allow enough time for studying and sleep. The busier your child gets with a job or other after-school activities the less time he or she will have to spend with family and friends. Keep an open line of communication with your children, and make your decisions based on grades, physical health and their ability to handle responsibility.
Oversee your child's search for work to ensure it is with a reputable company and that he or she understands the finer points of the commitment. Consider safety, transportation to and from work, and what clothing or equipment will be needed at your expense. In some cases, a youth minimum wage may apply. Check with your local Department of Labor to verify whether papers are required of a working minor. If your child is driving, find out what the regulations are regarding work and driving privileges.
While children enjoy having money of their own to pay for frivolities, there may be a limit as to how much they can earn yearly or have in savings before it affects financial aid for college. Check FAFSA guidelines to see whether working might make a difference in your child's educational plans.