Whether your teen is 13 or 17, she already has a full-time job: school. As you discuss whether your teen can (or should) get a job during the school year, remember that she'll be “moonlighting.” Making decisions will be much easier for both of you if you keep that in mind.
If your teen is thinking of taking a job during the school year, here are some questions to consider:
A recent study by researchers at Stanford and Temple Universities found that students who worked more than 20 hours per week did less well in school, were more detached from their parents, and had a higher rate of drug and alcohol use (in part because they had more discretionary income).
- Will the demands of the job threaten or enhance your child's commitment to school? Some working students take fewer challenging courses or cut corners on homework; others rise to the challenge because the job teaches them to become more efficient.
- Will there still be time for extracurricular activities? Have your teen ask her employer if she can work around soccer practice, play rehearsals, or saxophone lessons.
- Will he have less time with the family? Relationship-building with a teenager is hard work at best, and if the two of you don't cross paths often, it will become all the more difficult.
In addition, encourage your teen to make academic concerns his top priority. He may need to be creative to find study time but with your encouragement, he'll know that you still think school takes precedence over his job.
Even a teen's first job should be something that holds some appeal (even if it's primarily financial). The better the teen feels about the job, the more successful he will be.
Three months or so after your teen starts her job, evaluate how it's going. Is homework getting done? How are her grades? Is she enjoying her position? Does she have enough time flexibility for activities and family responsibilities?
If you're not thrilled with the situation, encourage her to look around again. A little work experience may open up additional job possibilities, and she may get more flexibility or better working conditions in a new job.
If she really feels committed to maintaining her job and doesn't want to look for something else, talk to her about your concerns. Perhaps you wouldn't worry about her if she could bring her C in English up to a B or a B- in the next marking period, or maybe you'd find the situation more palatable if she can get different hours so that she could have dinner with you twice a week. If she's truly committed to the job, that's a great quality, and you certainly don't want to dampen her enthusiasm. Just let her know what her other obligations are.