Should Teens Have Part-Time Jobs? Parents Weigh In

by Reader Contributors

Should Teens Have Part-Time Jobs photo

Will you be teaching them about money or just hurting their grades if you let them get a job? Our readers weigh in on the pros and cons.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
My daughter is 15. Like many teens, she wants more money for clothes, a phone, and all the things that teenagers think they need. I can’t afford to raise her allowance. Should I encourage her to get a part-time job? Or just tell her to do without those things? Her grades are good, but not excellent. I don’t want a job to take away from her schoolwork, but I wonder if working might be good training for her. Do any of your readers have experience that they can share on teens getting a job?


Should teens have part-time jobs?

What so you think? Should teens have part-time jobs? We asked our readers to share the pros and cons of experiences with their own teens as well as working as a teen themselves. Here is what they had to say:

Set Job Boundaries

I have a son that is now 18 and graduated. When he was 15 and 16, I only allowed him to work during the summer and weekends. I never allowed him to work on school days. When he turned 17 and 18, I allowed him to work any day of the week as long as it didn’t interfere with his schooling. During the four years, I did inform him that if I saw his grades drop or any other issue with school he would have to quit his job. I never had any issue, and we had an understanding.

Teen Skills That Will Last a Lifetime

I once ran a job program for teens as part of my work duties.

It’s good for teens to get a part-time job, so long as they keep their grades up. Not only do they earn money, but they also learn work skills that will serve them for a lifetime. These include promptness, how to deal with customers, and how to follow orders, as well as taking initiative and being creative within the workplace.

Many states have child-work laws that prohibit jobs for kids under 16. That said, opportunities always exist in the traditional teen jobs, like mowing lawns, babysitting, and being a mother’s helper. You could also consider paying her for extra chores at home, like cleaning out closets and/or the basement or attic.

Once she has a job, help her budget her money, putting some away for the future as well as paying for more of her own needs. This is another lesson that will last a lifetime.
Barbara in SC

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Shape Character with Hard Work and Responsibility

Yes, she should work. Hard work and responsibility help to shape character. If she is able to juggle and use her time wisely, her grades will not suffer. If she wants extras, she should pay for them. She will learn how to budget, prioritize, and decide what’s important to her. This will be a good life lesson. In my many years of working and observing, I’ve come to the conclusion that children who grow up on a farm are among the hardest and most productive adults. Also, many famous and successful adults are products of losing a parent early in life. What these groups have in common is responsibly at a young age.

First Job A Step to Independence

Should your teen have a job? Absolutely! Mine never did, and at 21 1/2, he is still lazily living at home. As long as your daughter’s grades stay high enough to suit you and her, a part-time job is a big step to later independence. She may have to wait until she is 16, but that’s not far off. Encourage her to apply with companies that value education. For example, Chick-fil-A hires students and allows time off for studying and exams. Some companies reward teen employees for good grades. Some offer tuition assistance for college. Some may offer steep employee discounts on the stuff she wants to splurge on.

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Important Rite of Passage

I worked as a teen and so did both of my children. In our family, it is an important rite of passage into responsible adulthood. Grades are important, so maybe a job with weekend hours or holiday jobs would be feasible. As a manager, I see a lot of young people entering the workforce, and it is very easy to tell those who have a workplace ethic already established from those who are just trying to figure it out. Part-time jobs can serve as a primer to learn and value the tenets of personal and financial responsibility.

Start with Babysitting

This is in response to the reader who asked if her daughter should get a part-time job. I suggest that your daughter start babysitting for extra money. Have her let parents in your neighborhood and in your church know that she’s available for babysitting (perhaps with flyers). The benefits to babysitting are:

  1. She can set her own hours. If she has a test coming up or a week that has heavy homework, she can just not work that week.
  2. If she babysits in the evenings, she can do her homework once the kids are in bed.
  3. It’s good training for both the workplace and for parenting.

If word gets around that she’s a good babysitter, she’ll have no shortage of jobs. A trick for being a good babysitter is to play with the kids. Don’t be the babysitter that sits on the couch while the kids play by themselves. The kids act better if the babysitter pays attention to them.

Use As Wise Money Lessons

Yes, she should get a job, but most importantly, she should be trained to use the money wisely. Your daughter should become responsible for her own expenses, such as car insurance, gasoline, saving for some car repairs, giving some away as a donation to a good cause, and saving for the long term. Parents need to help the teenager see that this is good training for the future because there will be bills later in life. However, this job should not interfere with her education, any volunteer work that is done, or chores around the house.

Part-Time Job and Academics

I did not work while I was in high school. My parents wouldn’t let me. They said that going to school was my job. I know that other parents said that they were spoiling me and that they were not letting me learn about the real world. However, my parents’ focus on education paid off. I had a full ride scholarship for the first year of college, and my tuition was covered for the next two years. I eventually earned more academic scholarships that covered most of my last year. When I finished graduate school, my student loans were only $2000. Clearly, the benefits of my scholarships were more than I could possibly have made at any high school job. Consider the time management and academic abilities of your children, but the potential savings from focusing on academics should not be discounted.

Preparing for College Is Most Important

I am a high school teacher. It’s not too early for your daughter to be thinking about college. Colleges are looking for a well-rounded student with good time-management skills. They like to see good grades with AP courses, being an officer in a club, being on a sports team, and community service. These things are very time-consuming. Most of my students don’t work during the school year.

If your daughter wants more things, she could go to a second-hand store, apps like OfferUp, or Facebook groups to get things more cheaply. I have gotten brand new items that were impulse purchases for someone else.

In my opinion, your daughter should concentrate on preparing herself for college. It is very competitive. Unless there is a financial need, I would discourage her from working during the school year.

Working Part-Time Is Definitely a Plus

We discovered having a part-time job was definitely a plus for our two teens. They had to learn to budget their time more efficiently to schedule homework, working hours, and free time. We told them if their grades suffered as a result of working, they would have to quit and focus on their studying. Their grades actually improved! What a plus! They are now young adults, graduated from college, and working professional jobs. We couldn’t be more pleased. They have often mentioned that working during that time instilled a work ethic and taught them the skills needed to work with adults. Plus, they made new friends in the process.

Reviewed July 2021

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