Your 15-year-old’s life is starting to get hectic. With the demands of high school ramping up, university or college looming in the not-so-distance, and a busier social life, your kid may be interested in making some money of their own. It’s a great time for a part-time or summer job, and an excellent time to build the skills for both.
First though, value. At 15 — with pressure to fit in AND grow up — understanding value can get complicated. This is the age when clothing and taste can start to dictate acceptance. Your kid may want money to buy whatever they’re seeing around them at school, and while they can do what they like with their money, it literally pays to get clear about a few things.
As your kid’s thinking about where to work and what to do with their time, find ways to encourage them to look at what they value in their life. Whatever the answers — family, pets, friends, trips, home, the environment, their Xbox — how many of the items on their list cost money?
It’s an obvious takeaway, but one that can use a refresher from time to time. Money doesn’t always equal value.
Translate that into the workforce, and choosing a job you love over one that pays more, for example, might connect value to your values. Similarly, the tradeoff of a lower salary for work you care about (and actually enjoy), or a healthier life balance, may not feel like a tradeoff at all.
Money is a tool, not an end point. Instill this in your 15-year-old, and you’ll give them one of the most valuable guides to life.
Sitting down with your kid to talk about how to write a CV, fill out an application form, and ace a job interview are skills that will benefit them for decades. And once they’ve gotten the job (thanks to your excellent tutelage), prepare them for the deductions they’ll see on their pay cheques. They can come as a big surprise. Your kid may think working 10 hours at $10/hour may net them $100. Alas, as we wise, experienced ones know, it does not.
Research shows that students who work more than 15 hours a week are more likely to drop out of high school, so try to make that the max. Your kid may have to learn how to set boundaries with a boss who’s asking for more time. It’s good practice for a healthy work/life balance. Working is good. But so is not working. Learning how to healthily hit the balance is key to happier living.
While it’s tempting to help them get out of bed to actually get to their jobs, experts agree that you pretty much have to leave your teen to it, or risk enabling bad habits. Agony, we know (but so is a world filled with 20-somethings who need their parents as an alarm clock). Let them make mistakes. Let them be late for work or double book themselves, so they can learn the consequences. As always, be a guide, offer advice, and help them when they need it. But let them also learn about adulting on their own.