Should teens have a paid part time job?

June 28, 2018

Should teens have a paid part time job?

Exploring Teens written debate - Series #1, debate #2

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Before we begin, I ask for consideration of the following:

  • Please appreciate that these writers are not professional writers.  They are part of the Exploring Teens audience and have volunteered to write one side of this debate.
  • These debates show that every area of parenting has people who will passionately see it from completely opposite perspectives. Everyone’s experience is shaped by the lens of their own experience.  It’s unlikely there is ever a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ position.
  • Reading through the debates, I am in awe as to how much thought people put into parenting.  We often beat ourselves up, but I can't see any inadquacies here.  All I see is committed and passionate people wanting to do their very best for the teens in their care.


The case AGAINST teens having a paid part time job


I would like to introduce myself as a white, educated, middle class woman. I am in a privileged position of having choices about whether my teens need a job or not. I am speaking from this position, aware that it affords certain privileges.

I believe a part-time job teaches kids about: money, relationships, commitment to another, personal budgeting and work place organisations.  Yet despite this, in my experience as a parent, I don’t believe teens should have a paid part time job as it potentially compromises other important aspects of life that I feel have a higher priority during these years.

These include; the need for down time, school commitments, family time, life timeline (i.e. what’s the rush?), volunteering and budgeting.

Downtime: I feel downtime for teens is so important but there is definitely a fine line between too much activity and not enough. If a teen has a full school workload, friends and sporting commitments this generally makes for a very scheduled week. We need to help them identify and model for them, the ability to create space for some quiet time in their week. It could be a couple of hours reading, seeing a movie, swimming, cooking or sitting on the couch.  If this is not modelled or created, chances are we raise over scheduled adults.

School commitments: In our family, education is important and valued and we are genuinely interested in school content. Some part of each week, nights or weekends is specifically allocated to digesting, discussing and reflecting on the weeks content. It’s just what we do and value.

Family time: This is self-explanatory and refers to holding sufficient space and time for your teen to stay connected with your family

A timeline for life: What’s the rush??  Science now tells us that developmentally we are not fully formed adults until 24 (some say 28), but not 18. It feels to me that that within the Australian culture, teens are encouraged to leave home and become independent too early. There seems to be a push to have gathered all the necessary life skills by the time they finish school so that they can move straight out and into independent living.  I feel it’s too much to expect teens to fully develop these skills while still at school.  Now, in my 40’s, I wish I’d have had more time as a teen/young adult with less responsibility. So where possible, I believe it is in a teens interest to spend time developing these skills more slowly.  And while paid work has skills to teach, why not leave it at the bottom of the list and work on the others before then?  So much of our lives is potentially spent in the workforce that where possible, why rush this element?

Volunteering: Volunteering within a charitable organisation can both raise social consciousness and potentially take the pressure off performance. In contrast, teens who work in a paid job may find that constant change and the need for targets to be met, adds pressure and could create or increase anxiety.

Budgeting: In our family, we give our kids a regular amount of money each week. With this money they have to buy face products, food when they are out, clothes and any other incidentals. They have learnt to save up for things they deem important and as they age, their values have changed the way they spend their money. They appreciate this resource and understand they have a small window where study is more important than a part time job. I do understand however, that many families may not have this luxury.

In standing opposed to teens having a paid part time job, I do still place a value on acquiring work experience/skills in other ways and believe that fundamentally a 15&1/2 year old does need to experience the world at large apart from their school and family environment. I just believe however, that through family friends and volunteering, there are many opportunities that often provide the same skill set as paid work which can help teens gain confidence and experience in a slow and safe way.

In my experience with my own teenagers, the more positive work experiences were babysitting and volunteering.

In baby-sitting, the skills learnt were:  communicating with another adult other than teacher and parent, personal budgeting and the value of money (where payment was received), responsibility and work commitment in amongst study. In volunteering, the skills learnt were: paper work for health and safety, organisational rules and regulations, team work, socialising with other adults other than teachers and parents, time constraints, operating a till and taking orders from another adult.

As I said originally, humans are not fully developed until their mid-twenties, so I feel that an alternative conversation within the Australian culture could be around the benefits of raising unscheduled adults. My general philosophy is of letting kids have their childhood and not booting them into adulthood rather letting them find their own way slowly. I see my role as a parent to be flexible in my thinking and not be constricted by the perceived societal ‘norms’ (one of which is the ‘need’ for a part time job). I understand for some, my views may be confronting because most adults I know generally believe that based on their own experience, having a part time job worked for them and should be the same for their kids. This is contrary to my view which has been developed via my experience as an adult raising my own children. None of this is gospel though, it is simply reflective and relates to my perspective.  All of this is subjective.


Author bio: I'm a teacher, counsellor, transformational coach and mum of two teens. Living in the city and working for myself I have always being interested in any topic or issue to do with children.

The case FOR teens having a paid part time job


Should teens have a part time job….absolutely!

I believe that teens should have household chores that are unpaid, so they appreciate what it is like to contribute to the family running efficiently.  Most teens will probably get some type of pocket money – I believe this should be a relatively small amount.  Teens should have a bank account with a debit card so they don’t just have a pocket full of cash, once they can see a balance their attitude towards money will take a shift.

If teens want more money to do things, such as; movies, buying items, cost of hanging out at the mall etc then I don’t believe that parents should always put their hand in their pocket, instead teens should be encouraged to get a job.  Why should a teen have a paid job?  There are several good reasons.

Having a paid job allows teens to get used to budgeting and saving prior to being old enough to have a credit card.  If they don’t learn to be responsible with money early on then when they have access to credit cards they may not fully understand the notion of only buying what you can afford.  My son has often wanted something and asked for a loan until next pocket money, but we stand firm and do not let him.

Going to work in a paid job provides teens with a chance to understand and develop a good work ethic.  Having to turn up on time, looking presentable and following instructions are indeed all taught at school, but detention is the worst thing that can happen to them there.  In a paid role they may find they are given less favourable shifts, or indeed may lose their job.  As an employer I have older teens join us and they are shocked by things such as having to wear makeup, dealing with customers even if they aren’t in the mood and having to work hard even if they had a late night. Those that have never had a job before often don’t stick at it.

The process of finding a job gives parents an excellent opportunity to talk to their teen about social media and their personal brand.  Personal brand is really important in the current work environment. So whilst you could argue you don’t either need a job or to be looking for a job to develop a personal brand, the opportunity this situation provides is an ideal prompt to sit with your teen and go through what this means.  Getting them to look at their social media accounts through the lens of a prospective employer can be very powerful.

Everything will not necessarily be amazing in their first jobs. This enables parents to have discussions about both the poor and good behaviour of others in the work place and what is not appropriate. As teens, it is a bit easier to walk away from a job without long reaching consequences.  This is something for your teen to learn, when an environment is not right for them and what they can do about it. This opportunity doesn’t really present itself through school or family as they can’t walk away.

You could argue “what about studies?”  Or “my teen does not have time”.  Ask your teen to work out how they can fit a job into their schedule.  The notion to work smarter not harder could apply to many teens.  Watching my teen when he focuses, it’s possible for him to sit and study and be done in say 2 hours.  If he has his phone near him, or his brother is doing something, or there are conversations to listen to, then it can literally double the amount of time.  This will give you a really great opportunity as a parent to discuss workload and fitting more than studies into their life.  If they don’t have time due to sports commitments or other non-study commitments, they should be able to still look at their schedule and work out a way.  If you believe your teen really has a very full schedule that you cannot see how or where they would fit in a job, then maybe look at school holidays.

The benefits of a part time job really outweigh the negatives.


Author bio: Mum of 2 boys 12yr and 9yr, part time Director of HR for large hotel company - passionate about children's rights



So now it's over to you guys!

We love would love to know which side of the debate you sit on.  

NEXT DEBATE IN SERIES #1 ----> Should devices be accessible in the classroom?

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