Summertime often means summer jobs for teens. But is that always a good thing for young people?
Not necessarily, I’ve spent many years fielding questions from parents on how to teach their children – grown and underage – to handle money.
The trouble is, even though a paying job can help teenagers sharpen their skills in the workplace, it can also be a two-edged sword. By encouraging kids to work, it’s easy to create a generation of teenage werewolves, obsessed with feeding their ravenous spending appetites for even more clothes, cosmetics, and concert tickets. I remember with gratitude that my own mother let me keep my summers free when I was in high school. One of my aunts frowned on such `coddling,’ and was always bugging Mom to make me get a job. But she held her ground.
What was my mother’s rationale? My mother knew that soon enough i would have to start work – and once i did i would be working all my life. And for many teens, working doesn’t mean helping with the household bills or a college fund. It means they have more money to dispose of when their parents drop them off at the mall to buy stuff they don’t need.
It would seem, ironically, that they’ve learned the lesson: A buck will buy stuff, and lots of bucks will buy more. If you’re intent on teaching your child certain job-related skills, encourage them to volunteer, Kids are often given more responsibility in these positions than in paying jobs, and they get exposure to a variety of careers and to slices of life that they might not normally come in contact with. I’m Not against teens working, particularly during the summer. But parents should keep control over how many hours they work – especially when school is in – and what they do with the money they earn. As long as you are supporting your children, you are entitled to at least a portion of their income unless you give them, either by formal agreement or practice, the right to spend and manage their own earnings.
“I certainly don’t advise confiscating your kids’ paychecks." “But it’s appropriate for you to sit down with them before they start working to hash out an agreement on how much you’d like them to save, and for what."
For example, how would you answer this question?
Your son is heading for college in the fall and will need spending money. You:
(A) Tell him that if he stays in his room and studies, he won’t need spending money.
(B) Agree to send a weekly allowance.
(C) Tell him to get a summer job.
(D) Discuss their needs, see what they have available from jobs and savings, and agree to supplement that with an appropriate allowance.
Personally, I like the first answer. Although Practically, you would be better off going with D.