Some parents worry about the double edged sword of teens and work. On the one hand, there is some research that suggests teens who work might get lower grades. On the other hand, a teenager who works will probably learn some important life skills. Should your teen work? What is more important – grades or life skills? Which will serve them better in the long run? I believe teens should work while in school.
Photo by hyperscholar via Flickr.
Possible Negative Results if a Teenager Works:
There are three possible negatives associated with teenagers working:
- Sacrifice social life
- Less time for other extracurricular events
My response to the “social life sacrifice”position: These are possible negatives, but they are also only recent inventions of our generation. We think teenagers need time to relax and play. While I think there is some value to that, it can be carried to unhealthy extremes. Think about a generation or two ago. Grandpa and Grandma’s social life was the family. Their extracurricular events were called chores. I can only speak from my experience, but my grandparents turned out alright. One of the fallacies of our generation is that we believe for kids to be happy they need to be able to do whatever they wish.
My response to the “less time for extracurricular events” position: The main consideration is balance – some work, some play, and some school. Focus on allowing your children to experience different activities, but don’t define their childhood based solely on participation in extracurricular events.
My response to the “fatigue” position: Most teens I know are fatigued from staying up late with friends going out to Taco Bell in the middle of the night (or they are tired from a lot less wholesome activities). If they are going to be tired, it might as well be because of some good, honest work.
Why life skills are more important than grades
Grades serve two practical functions in life.
- Good grades open the opportunity to go to another school or to continue on to higher levels of education.
- Good grades may help in securing your first job. Once you have worked that first job your future employers are going to care more about your work performance than your school grades. Unfortunately, too many parents pass along a paranoia about grades to their children.
Questions for parents to answer: Would you rather your teenager learn to master geometry or learn to work when tired?
Craig Ford is a fulltime missionary in Papua New Guinea who writes Money Help For Christians and Help Me Travel Cheap, a frugal family travel blog. He is the author of Money Wisdom From Proverbs, has a Masters of Divinity degree, and (most importantly) eats homemade pizza with his family every Friday night.