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Should Your Teen Get a Job?

By Lynn Powers

My son is now fourteen (gulp) and he recently reminded me that he is now old enough to get a job (double gulp). The legal age for employment is, indeed, fourteen, although there are certain state regulations, such as not being allowed to work between the hours of 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM. And being employed in hazardous or unsafe working conditions. No problem, there!

But regardless of the fact that the law allows my son to be employed, is he truly ready to hold down a job? Maybe you've wondered the same thing. Here are a few things to consider before chauffeuring your teenager around town to fill out those applications.

Is my teen responsible? The term, "responsible" is most definitely subjective. You might consider you son or daughter responsible if they keep their room clean. Other parents might overlook the messy room but see their teenager as responsible if he or she turns in their homework on time. While my son might not be considered responsible on either count, he does show signs of responsibility in other areas, like obeying most of the rules and doing chores without complaining (most of the time). As the parent, you have to decide what "responsible" means to you and whether or not you feel your teen is responsible enough to handle a job.

Does my teen get along with others? Of course, we're not only talking about siblings, although if they get along well with their brother or sister, you are in the minority and have reason to rejoice! The more important question to ask is how they get along with friends, as well as the parents of those friends. Being comfortable around adults and being able to communicate well with them is a sign that your teenager may be ready for this step towards their own adulthood.

Does my teen respect authority? If your son or daughter tends to resist being told what to do or frequently rebels against anyone in authority either at home or school, holding down a job may be a difficult thing to do. The fact is, they will have a "boss" and will need to do as they are instructed, whether they want to or not. Being agreeable and prepared to follow orders is necessary in any job.

How do they manage his or her time? This may fall under the "responsibility" category but is something that needs to be considered. Will they be able to manage their job, homework, extra-curricular activities and family time with minimal struggle? Setting priorities is a must as is being able to handle the challenge they will inevitably face to keep those priorities in order.

Does my teen follow through? If they have trouble sticking with something, particularly when the going gets tough, they may not be ready for a real job. Being reliable is at the top of the list that employers look for in a job candidate. Barring unforeseen circumstances, quitting should not even be an option.

Is my teen a hard worker? When put to work, do they put forth their best effort or do they complain the entire time? They may think that because they'll be getting paid to work, it won't be as bad. But the truth is, if they can't work for free without complaining, they won't be able to even when they're getting paid. Let them know that their boss isn't likely to tolerate slacking off. Diligence and hard work is a must.

Sit down with your teenager and go over these questions before making your final decision. At the very least, it will get your teenager thinking about exactly what it takes and what will be expected of them when they do finally land that job.

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