We Are Both Right

It’s Not Their Place in a 9 to 5 World

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When my kids are in high school, their job will be to hit the books, nothing more. ©shho/stock.xchng

Remember high school? I do. I remember it being an awful lot of work. Every year I took a full course load, not to mention the after-school activities I participated in. From junior year on, I also worked at a local restaurant. I worked as a waitress mostly, but did other things too.

Until I turned 17, I worked no more than four hours a day, 20 hours a week and no later than 10 p.m. Once I turned 17, right before my senior year, the rules changed quite a bit. I could work longer shifts and more of them. Vacations from school didn’t mean vacations from work and Friday and Saturday nights were filled — not with dates or outings with my friends but with order slips and cash register receipts.

It was a good job (I stayed at it until I graduated from college) and I made a lot of money. Money that helped me purchase my first car and pay for college and the prom and buy whatever it was I needed. I learned responsibility and gained some independence. For the most part, working as a teen was a great experience for me.

Still, when it comes time for my kids to work, I’m not sure I’ll be so fast in signing their working papers. My son is only 11 now, so maybe I’ll feel differently in a few years, but I think I’d rather him focus on school while he’s in high school — his studies, his extra-curricular activities and his (sigh) social life. I may change my mind once I have to start footing his sure-to-be-expensive teen-years bills, but I think that our kids have to grow up so fast as it is, why not give them a little more time to just be young.

Having said that, I don’t want my kids spending their time playing video games or surfing the ‘net or doing whatever it is that will be popular five years from now. If they aren’t working they should be studying or playing sports or doing something goal-oriented. Down time is OK, but I do expect them to be productive in some way. I don’t think that will be a problem, they are totally overscheduled right now, I can’t imagine that will change much. And to me, that’s how the younger years should be spent.

Let me be clear, I am not against my kids working entirely. I would welcome any of them to get a summer job or take on some odds and ends, here and there — babysitting, snow shoveling, lawn mowing and the like — just nothing that requires a regular commitment, nothing that might take away from their most important responsibility — being a teenager.

What do you think? Did you work an after-school job? Do your kids? Will your kids?

Suzanne says as soon as her kids are old enough, they will enter the workforce. I know where I’m going when I want a scoop of ice cream!

3 Responses to “It’s Not Their Place in a 9 to 5 World”

  1. Enyo says:

    I worked through high school as a cashier at a grocery store. It was such a great company to work for that I stayed there after high school and became management through college. I hope that my kids work during high school; even with extra-curricular activities, it teaches a kind of responsibility and work ethic that can’t be learned from home.

  2. Lori says:

    My dad never wanted me to work during high school, but he also never wanted to give me enough money to pay for the things that I wanted and he deemed unnecessary (Janet Jackson concert tickets!!!). One of the first jobs that I ever had was for a catering company and I loved it. All of my friends worked there, we got paid in cash and often got bonus tips from the people who’s parties we were catering, and we got free meals every night. It was a weekend job, but when all your friends are doing it, what else is there to do? That job allowed me to save up quite a bit of money to have fun with over the summer, plus it allowed me all the time I needed during the week to focus on schoolwork, sports, and my other extracurricular activities. It was, in a way, a dream job. I wish I had a job like that now!

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