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Should Kids Have Summer Jobs?

My son has his first ever job interview this weekend. And while a part of me dreads the idea of adding another commute to our family's already-hectic lifestyle, I'm thrilled at the idea of him getting a job.

 help wanted ads in the newspaper

There's a lot of debate about sending teens out into the workforce. Is it healthy for them? Is it healthy for the economy? Are there enough jobs to go around? Which do colleges like to see better on applications - minimum wage summer jobs or enrichment activities such as internships, travel, and volunteerism?

It turns out that all signs point toward the idea that working is a good thing for kids to do. Here's why.

They learn how to follow someone else's rules and schedules. Sure, as a parent you might be great at setting limits and making rules and insisting your kids follow them, but being subject to the rules and regulations of an individual or group that isn't family or school is a whole other ball game. Kids learn respect, self control, and discipline in ways they might be missing at home, where they can't really get fired if they mess up.

Money management is a valuable skill to have! Even earning minimum wage means that they're going to have more cash in their pockets. This means deciding how much to save, spend, and give. It might mean opening a bank account, if they haven't already. And when you have your own money to manage, you also start looking at the cost of things a little differently.

Time management is crucial for school and careers. It's a lot harder to tell your boss that you overslept than it is to tell your mom you overslept. Having to juggle a job on top of other responsibilities, plus the fun events of summer, means learning how to schedule your time effectively.

You meet lots of different people. We all tend to live in our bubbles, and kids are no exception. Jobs are another way to expose ourselves to other ways of living. A child from a solidly middle class family might find themselves working alongside a single mom trying to get by on her minimum wage paycheck - that's a learning experience you just can't replicate in a classroom.

All of these reasons are part of why I'm excited for my son to get a job. Not only will he spend less time playing video games, he'll be exposed to different people, situations, and challenges than what he'll find at home in our small town. And he won't be bugging me for cash when he wants to take his girlfriend on a date. Bonus!

 

Dog jumping into pool --

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