One of the major conflicts I hear from parents of teenagers is whether to allow their children to experience positive extracurricular activities in school or to make them get a part-time job and go to work. We experienced the same dilemma with our children. We chose to allow our son to be in band, play sports, be in Boy Scouts, attend youth group at church, and be involved in student government at school because they were healthy, wholesome activities that kept him out of trouble. We purposely told him as long as he got good grades he did not have to work outside the home. And so we provided a car for transportation along with insurance—a major mistake we didn’t make with our second child. Those extra-curricular activities are important, but he probably didn’t need to do all of them. I’d consider making your teenager work outside the home. The earlier you teach teens the principles that help them be successful at work, the easier their life will be. In hindsight, our son would have been better served to have worked for a boss and learned what working for minimum wage is like so that when he went into the world he would have appreciated the value of an education and been better prepared to take care of himself. Additionally, being forced to work to pay for his own car and insurance would have been an excellent way to teach him the value of those items. Our daughter did and was much the better for it.
Also, the job-or-activities dilemma is not an either/or proposition. A teenager can do a few extracurricular activities at school and still maintain a part-time job.
We do our children a great disservice when we do not teach them the value of hard work. In all likelihood, they will be required to work most of their adult life. The earlier you teach your teens the principles that help them be successful at work, the easier their life will be.
There’s another consideration in play here as well. Making your teenager work outside the home might just make it easier to get them to move out once they become adults.
Gleaned from Rick’s upcoming book, The Making of a Man: Strategies to Help Your Son Succeed in Life, due June 1, 2013. Find out more at: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/a-man-in-the-making/329090