Saturday Open Thread

October 6, 2012

It’s the weekend, y’all!

Today’s topic: jobs. Specifically, should high school-age kids have them? This New York Times post poses the question from parents who worry that after school jobs take precious time away from studies:

My spouse and I feel that our daughter’s primary job is to learn and earn good grades, and are considering asking her to quit her part-time job. However, I wonder if that would be doing her a disservice— would the experience she gains be more valuable over time than a higher grade-point average?

Let me share a Tale of Two Teens:

First, me! I did not work during high school. We were not well off and I did not have a car or a license; getting to a job would have necessitated rides from my parents (who worked full time) or navigating the crappy public transit system in my southern California suburb. I had a rigorous honors course load and was involved in extracurriculars (Academic Decathletes and drama geeks, HOLLA!). I did, however, do a bit of clerical/administrative work during a couple of summers. When I got to college I worked many jobs but had zero concept of how to budget and promptly buried myself in credit card debt.

Then there was DH. He started a paper route at age 11, worked as a bag boy at age 14, then worked at Burger King starting at age 16. His father made it clear that he had to save up enough money to pay for half of his college tuition. End result: he was working 30 hours a week during his junior and senior years in high school. He was exhausted all the time and had zero time for extracurriculars. However, having saved up enough money to buy his first car and being forced to pay part of his tuition made him budget conscious in a way that served him well. He never fell into the debt trap the way I did.

I don’t think either of these is the right course. I can’t imagine expecting my kids to work 30 hours a week during high school. However, I think babysitting gigs and summer jobs go a long way toward teaching responsibility, professionalism and budgeting.

What say you? Did you work during high school? Did your kids, or will they? Why  or why not?

Anything else on your mind? Chat away!