My eldest child began college at age 16 and it was perhaps a little bit too soon for her. I encouraged her but she felt trapped into that life and didn’t enjoy it. She got a part-time job and had some bad experiences with employers exploiting her and sexual harassment that went unpunished. I worried since she had completed our homeschool that she needed to spend her time wisely. Maybe I should have let her lie around and do nothing instead of pushing her to be more productive.
She worked as a grocery cashier at a national chain, clerk at a tennis center, a local casual restaurant hostess, at a Halloween shop, as a bank teller, and now as a caregiver to disabled adults.
She is now living on her own, sharing an apartment with friends. She quit college and works full-time and I hope she’s happy. She just turned 21. It hurts me that she chose to do this. I wish I still had options to help her. I wish she was still on our family health insurance plan. I pray she doesn’t fall into debt or have an accident or illness.
But if I could back, I would be kinder to my daughter instead of pushing and challenging. If I knew then what I know now.
We are experiencing a vast shift where employees are protesting poor working conditions. I know that young people and those presenting as females are often treated worse in the workplace and I do worry for my kids. My eldest tells us horrible stories about her own work experiences and that of her friends and how they are not protected or helped by management. I worry my middle daughter won’t be treated well and won’t speak up. I am so anxious.
It irritates me how difficult it is to find entry level jobs. The requirements and preferences of employers frustrates me. Most potential employees have little experience or higher education or certification. How do these employers expect to hire people if they require so much for so little pay and often poor working conditions?
Why can’t cashiers have chairs? Who is it disrespecting? Why are so many shoppers angry and belligerent?
It also upsets me that so many career options are undervalued – beauty industry, cleaning, nursing, social work, teaching, secretarial work, child care, elderly care – typically women-centric jobs or “pink collar” that bring little pay and offer poor work conditions. Our society must think these jobs aren’t important. This past couple years certainly has brought to the forefront of our newsfeeds the lack of respect for food service and caregiving careers. These workers seem invisible unless they do an exceptional job with a smile for very little pay. I think it’s awful now that college isn’t even an answer to a good job. I have a master’s degree and that’s not even special anymore.
I worked nonstop from age 16 until I was 30. I had some horrible experiences. I didn’t know any better. Bosses and coworkers were often very abusive, but I had little recourse or knowledge of workers rights. I went to college full-time, beginning with skipping my senior year of high school, including summers. I never had a break. I do not recommend this.
My parents are Silent Generation and I am GenX and that’s a bizarre combo. My dad would make very unfunny gibes about owning me and all that I owed him for the expenses he incurred while raising me.
When I quit work with the birth of my second child, I was quite lost and didn’t know how to rest. That mindset is damaging. The pressure to become a SuperMom is overwhelming. I’ve learned to balance better and I want that peace for my kids.
I wish I hadn’t been such a coward. I wish I had been encouraged to speak up, to take risks, to rest, to quit.
We are not what we produce. We are whole and complete and we deserve rest.
Where are the Teen Jobs?
I feel that teens are exploited since many adults aren’t willing to work under the current conditions. Many adults juggle child care and/or elderly care that employers aren’t willing to work around or pay enough to cover those expenses. My daughters are working hard and picking up extra shifts when people call in.
But I’m not raising kids to maintain the status quo. I want them to be respected on the job. I want them to rest when they need to, not having to grow up too fast to join the adult world. I want improvements to workers rights and minimum wage. I am so, so sorry for the apathy of my generation that we didn’t fight for more change.
There are some options for teens to work part time for pay. There doesn’t seem to be as many options as when I was a teenager.
In July 1986, 57 percent of sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds were employed; in July 2017 only 36 percent worked.Thrivers by Michele Borba
I did babysitting from the age of 12 when I went through a course with Girl Scouts. I worked at McDonald’s at age 16, Pizza Hut, a drugstore, Media Play (remember that place?), then as a secretary through college. I was able to do substitute teaching and after school care during college also. I taught full time in various schools. I was an adjunct English professor. I worked in a day spa. I occasionally tutored after my kids were born. I just don’t have time for side hustles anymore, and thankfully I don’t have to work.
My husband did lawn care during summers. He also did various farm chores from childhood for pay or volunteer. He grew up about an hour south of Chicago on three acres surrounded by farms.
My two daughters did babysitting, but they found many parents don’t want to pay even minimum wage and expected way too much and often felt unsafe in their homes.
My middle daughter got paid well for pet sitting the last couple years with a few families during the holidays.
We have a neighbor boy who does lawn care on our street, but many families in our city hire professional house cleaners and lawn maintenance companies.
One of my children wants to sell their art online, either stickers or something similar.
Many fast food restaurants are hiring as young as 14.
Typically, many shops and restaurants will hire teens beginning at age 16.
I wonder if some businesses just don’t want to deal with the child labor laws affecting minors.
Every state is different, but most stores seem to hire only adults over age 18. This makes it more difficult for teens to get experience or work after school and during summers.
My second child just got a part-time job as a bagger/cashier at a local privately-owned grocery, but I worry she will regret it. She’s so tired all the time. She wanted to start working soon, but maybe not this soon. She’s 15 1/2. I worry she might be treated poorly and not know to recognize it or what to do. She has plans and goals and ambitions. She wants a car and flying lessons and to travel the world.
I’m thrilled for her and I do believe that money can and will open doors – but at what cost?
If you think it’s good for kids to get “life experience” by working long shifts for $7.25 an hour, what kind of life do you want to prepare them for, exactly?Joshua Potash
I just want my kids to be healthy, safe, protected. They do not have to work until they’re on their own. I provide all their needs and most of their wants. They have education investment funds for higher learning. I don’t want them to feel guilt or shame like I did that I spend so much money to give them a good start in the world. I am blessed to be able to do so.
I encourage my kids to volunteer or find part-time or temporary jobs that will help them learn skills for the future, but only if they want to. We are in a position that we can help our kids if they want to do summer internships. Sometimes, people need jobs just to make money to pay the bills. The idea of a career or dream job can seem far away. They have plenty of time.
My kids are super helpful with home maintenance and chores. They love to learn about cleaning and fixing things. I love having companionship and help.
I wish I could say this to myself and to my children:
My dear teenager, you do not have to work. You do not have to get a part-time job.
There is no need for you to struggle or hustle and grind.
You do not have to enter the adult world just yet.
Play in the woods.
Read the manga.
Jump in the leaf pile.
Draw the picture.
Play the guitar.
Sleep in late.
Go to bed late.
Eat when you want.
Go to the bathroom when you need.
Lie around in your pajamas all day.
Dream of what you want to be when you grow up.
Keep on learning.
Stay a child a little longer.
Don’t grow up just yet.
My husband retires next year after twenty years in the Air Force, and he is anxious about that transition. It’s laughable that there are so many jobs available that he is overqualified for or that require a Ph.D., but the pay is less that what he makes now.
To make a living is not to make a killing; it’s to have enough.Wendell Berry
I pray that worker conditions improve and minimum wages are raised to a livable income. I fear for our society if the status quo remains.
It’s not just the entry level jobs that are desperate. It’s the entire economy. The job market is falling apart. The media complains that no one wants to work. Of course no one wants to work! The work conditions are abhorrent. And what about the 700,000+ workers who have died from COVID-19 complications? Surely many, if not all of them, worked somewhere. Until the work conditions change to reflect valuing and respecting lives, our society will not improve.
One reason I love the wave of people quitting and the wave of strikes is that every time someone walks away from a paycheck or withholds their labor is a leap of faith that things can be better. And when people take that leap incredible things start to happen.Joshua Potash
Most of us want to work. We are designed for work. When we have to work to live, yet never seem to keep our head above water, we lose sight of working for the sheer joy of producing enough to live and having balance. Our capitalist society has pushed, pushed, pushed us to the breaking point that bigger, better, faster, more, better is never enough.
I ask myself, my husband, and my kids: what would you do for work if money were not an option?
You might also like:
- Prioritizing Rest
- Teen Driving Tips
- The Last Time
- Parenting Teens
- 5 Best Life Skills Books for Teens
- How to Prepare for After High School
Linking up: Grammy’s Grid, Eclectic Red Barn, Silverado, Pinch of Joy, Random Musings, Create with Joy, Stroll Thru Life, Jenerally Informed, Suburbia, LouLou Girls, InstaEncouragments, Penny’s Passion, Try it Like it, Shelbee on the Edge, Debbie Kitterman, Soaring with Him, Slices of Life, Anita Ojeda, Fluster Buster, Ridge Haven, Thistle Key Lane, Ducks in a Row, GingerSnap, Anchored Abode, Modern Monticello, Artful Mom, Being a Wordsmith, Imparting Grace, Cottage Market, Hubbard Home, Answer is Choco, OMHG, Momfessionals, CWJ, Moment with Franca, Pieced Pastimes, Pam’s Party, Mostly Blogging,