Building Teen Character: Part-Time Employment
by Rachel Paxton
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The teenage years are a crucial time in a child's life. They are
not children anymore, but they are also not adults. During this
time the choices they make may have an effect on them for the
rest of their lives. It is the parents' responsibility to guide
their teenagers in the right direction by helping them make
responsible choices and building their character to the point
that when their teenagers move out of the house they are on the
road to being responsible adults and have the tools they need to
succeed in life.
There are a number of ways that parents can help teenagers build
their character. One way is through part-time employment.
Having a job provides many learning opportunities for teens.
* It teaches them what it takes to make a living, and that it is
hard work to earn money to pay bills.
* They have the opportunity to learn to manage their own money
and make choices of how they will spend it.
* If parents gives their teens the responsibility of paying for
some of their own bills (e.g., car insurance, gas, clothing, cell
phone, lunches out, etc.), then teens will realize they will only
be able to have these things if they pay for them and will have
to decide if it is worth it to them or not. Their priorities
suddenly change when it is their money they are spending. They
don't necessarily have to pay all their own bills, giving them a
couple of expenses to take care of will teach them to pay their
own way and make responsible choices with their money.
* Working is one way for teens to learn to get along with and
work along side other people, a very crucial step in character
development. How many adults do you know that can't get along
with other people! Teens learn that you won't always like
everyone you work with, but that it doesn't matter. You still do
your job and have a good attitude about it, treating others as
you wish to be treated.
* The process of looking for a job requires teenagers to take a
good look at themselves and their abilities, helping them to see
what kind of people they want to be and what they ultimately want
to do with their lives.
* Job experience is the first step to building a successful
resume. Any jobs a teen has will look good on college
applications and be a stepping stone to future employment.
Of course, all this sounds great but in reality can be difficult
to put into practice. The first job our daughter had she got
laid off from because she and her boss could not come to
agreement on the hours she would work. After she started working
there he changed the hours he said she could work and it
conflicted with other activities she had. It was very hard for
her to feel like she was "fired" from her first job. We had to
talk through a lot of the feelings she had towards her boss and
some of the experiences she had at that job. But because she
chose to honor her boss by showing him respect when he didn't
necessarily deserve it, he gave her an excellent reference for
her next job.
A couple of months later she did find another job that was much
better than the first one, and she had many great learning
experiences of working with others and learning to serve others
even when it was very hard work.
Parents can't just throw their teens out into the workplace and
expect everything will go great. Issues will arise that need to
be worked through with the parents' help, but this is where the
learning occurs, and character development begins!
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of four. For more
inspirational articles and tips for everyday living, visit her
web sites at http://www.creativehomemaking.com and
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