“I can’t ever get my son to do anything during the summer,” they’d complain. “My daughter just lazes around. I come home from work, and she’s still in the same position, dishes all over the place, clothes on the floor. I can’t take another summer like that.”
Bill could only smile. His son had a job.
Read the fine print
Unfortunately, the “internship” was not quite what his son thought it would be. It involved door-to-door sales, which resulted mostly in slammed doors. Any sales, which were few, largely benefited the company. Bill’s son had gone through training and made careful estimates of his summertime income. He figured he could make upwards of $10,000 during the summer if he worked hard. That’s what the guy leading the training told him. He was pumped.
Bill’s son dutifully studied the manual and headed out on his route. In the next several weeks, expectations quickly disintegrated. He became discouraged. No one wanted to buy from a door-to-door pitchman. He ended the summer with a T-shirt and a couple hundred bucks.
Find the right niche
As summer approaches, this is a good time to talk to your teenager about employment. There are many benefits to summer work, but it is important to find the right job situation. Help your teen assess the opportunities and weigh the benefits and drawbacks. Find something that is safe, meaningful and fits well with the overall family schedule.
A good summer job will provide your teen with personal income to manage, an opportunity to focus time and effort, a sense of responsibility, the experience of balancing multiple tasks and budgeting time, an opportunity to work with and serve others, and an enhanced and solid resume.
Making work work
Having a job also requires developing a schedule and planning transportation. If your child drives and has access to a car, you’re set. But many teens are below driving age or don’t have easy access to their own transportation. If public transportation is not accessible, they’ll need your help. Consider the impact on your schedule.
Think about the type of work your teen might pursue and how it might relate to your teen’s interests, abilities and future goals. It is important to start early and be patient.
Sometimes a volunteer opportunity – such as a real internship or study-abroad experience – is preferable if it advances goals or improves your child’s future. Often taking classes is a smart option for improving skills or adding educational knowledge.
A positive and constructive summer work experience can translate into an improved home and school life and provide valuable lessons that can benefit your teen throughout his or her lifetime.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at [email protected]