2 Big Lessons Children Will Learn from a First Job

first job

I remember when my kids got their first jobs. Oh the joy! (Yay, they will have their own money and stop asking me for mine). What an exciting time of growth for our children!

As thrilling as this period of growth is, as with all growth, growing pains are to be expected.

What can we do as parents to help our children and our family navigate through this transition?

So far, with my own teens, I found two areas to be  the biggest challenges and opportunities for growth during this new life phase in their life.

Time Management and Priorities

One of the first lessons my children faced with working was how to fit one more thing in their life. In addition to school, a social life, extracurricular activities, they now had something else  to integrate into their lives.

For many teens,  the tangibles to  reward of a paycheck can shift  their perspective on how they should prioritize their time.

Jackson, my 18 year old high school senior works Monday through Friday for three hours as a martial arts instructor.  After a full day of school, teaching and training he comes home exhausted and just wants to relax. Who wouldn’t? But the demands of high school are high. As his grades started to drop, many discussions took place in our household.  As parents our goal was to help him to learn to  pace himself and how to create balance in his life.
Helping your teen identify long term and short term goals can be helpful.

We had to remind him the immediate gratification of a paycheck, socializing and relaxing  don’t always align with his long term goals of getting into college and creating a solid foundation to launch into adulthood.

Encourage your teen to ask themselves if the immediate gratification they are receiving maximizes or minimizes the chance of realizing their long term aspirations. At times the answer may be “no” and that can be okay as long as they are able to balance it with a lot of yes’s.

Money management

Jackson started working three years ago. From the very beginning we encouraged him to put half his paycheck in savings and keep the rest for himself. As he watched his bank account grow, he became proud of his decision to save.

At 18 he can now go online to view his bank account and has a debit card. After three years of saving a portion of his paychecks he is not very eager to withdraw money. He would much rather watch it grow than shrink.
He has learned to budget the other half of his paychecks very well and learned to save up for things he really wants instead of going into his savings.

The next big challenge will be how to handle a credit card and I will let ya’ll know how that goes!

Jade, my 15 year old high school freshman as recently entered the workforce as a waitress at a bakery. She works half days on weekends only and has become very enthusiastic about making her own money. So much so that she wants to find a second job to make more money. I tell her to wait for the summer. We only have a short time left in the school year.

Hopefully, her father and and I have learned enough from Jackson’s experience and will be able to avoid some of the same issues by having the conversation of balance much earlier than we did with her brother.

Oh and that part where I said now that they have their own money and can stop asking for mine? Yeah right. For some reason they don’t like spending their money….that was unexpected!

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About Jontie Hays

Jontie Hays  is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She graduated from Florida State University in 1993. As a private practitioner, she specializes in many areas including: Child sexual abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety, women’s health, couples and family counseling. She also is Supreme Court certified in family mediation and serves as a consultant to an international company, which provides onsite crisis response to the corporate community. She has served as an expert witness in family litigation involving children. She is a dedicated to assisting others in reaching their highest and most authentic selves. Through the use of integrative approach, Jontie embraces an attitude towards the practice of psychotherapy that affirms the inherent value of each individual. It is a unifying psychotherapy that responds appropriately and effectively to the person at the affective, behavioral, cognitive, and physiological levels of functioning, and addresses as well the spiritual dimension of life  St. Augustine, Florida is home to Jontie and her family. She has been married to her wonderful, handsome husband Jim for 22 years. They share two beautiful children Jackson and Jade.

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