Written by Doctor G

Teens: Is School their Work?

My daughter is a sophomore in high school and turning 16 in January.  She wants to get a job.  I say school is her job, and she should enjoy the freedom to hang out with her friends when she isn’t doing homework.  What do you say?

Joseph, in Burbank, CA

I say let her get a job.

Joseph, you sound like a really good dad.  You expect your daughter to do well in school, and you make those expectations clear.  You encourage her to enjoy her friends, and her life.  And you have the perspective to know that she is going to have many years of work-life, so you want her to not wish away her childhood.

Let me offer another perspective.  You have the chance to guide your daughter in her work-life (for another couple of years only).  She wants the chance to try this grown up role, and you can help her so much!

If she waits for these experiences until she is out of the house, how will she know what to wear to a job interview?  That first job application can be daunting, the first day of work even more so.  Boss conflict, co-worker disagreements, the importance of being on time and leaving her cell phone in her pocket – all these skills are better learned on a high school job.  Waiting until that job is her meal ticket puts her in a more precarious position.

Like all the skills we want our kids to master as adults, we should take the chances we get to teach while they are still under our wings.

Keep your expectations clear about her homework.

Encourage her to keep her friends as a priority.

Give her the opportunity to work for someone else, in a structured environment.  The lessons she learns will better prepare her for adulthood, and you will be an even greater Dad.

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4 thoughts on “Teens: Is School their Work?”

  1. Great advice! I often feel like I do not want my kids to grow up either, but I do remember how good that $ felt that I earned on my own as a teen! Rachel

    1. Rachel, a great point. The pride of earning and the learning that goes along with that is great practice as well.

  2. I love the advice given here, although even more importantly, this is a great opportunity to encourage and teach about an entrepreneurial endeavor. In this case, she will be able to learn about making a greater impact on the world, especially in our depressing economic times. This also allows the daughter to be more flexible with her time, being able to differentiate between friends and work. Owning her own company allows her to learn how to be self-motivated and can also give her dad peace that his daughter isn’t neglecting her friends and enjoying her childhood.

    1. I like the idea of encouraging entrepeneurship. I don’t want to skip the part where teens learn to work for others, however. There are great life lessons to be gained in employment. And she will be a better business owner (should she wish to) if she has first experienced what it is to work for someone else.

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