Poll: When should kids get a job?

My very first job was working on my aunt’s ice cream truck. During the hot Florida summers, I’d ring the bell and yell “Ice Cream!!” out the little side window. She also made me double as a tutor for elementary school kids.

I was only 13 and although I can barely remember, I’m sure my “pay” was little more than $10 or $20. A couple years later, I was working at McDonald’s. I’ve worked ever since, either during the summers as a student or year-round. I still remember this being a point of tension for my parents.

Mom: “I think she should work.”

Dad: “She’s going to have to work the rest of her life. There’s no need to rush into it.”

I’m not sure who was right.

Do you think kids should start working as soon as they are old enough? Is it, at the age of 15, an essential step in financial literacy? Or, are these things young people will eventually learn anyway, perhaps while working a part-time job while in college?

When should a young person start working?

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21 comments Add your comment

Belinda

March 29th, 2010
1:26 pm

I can’t choose either answer. I think it depends on the child. It also depends on how many activities they have outside of school and how many things they “want”.

Lori

March 29th, 2010
2:01 pm

I agree with Belinda. The two choices in the poll don’t quite cover it. I don’t think every 12 year old out there is able to get a job, but certainly could stand to do some chores to earn money. I would think a more appropriate age would be around driving age. Car insurance is expensive and so is dating these days. I had to pay for my own car insurance when I was a teen, even though I didn’t have a car (drive my parents car when I needed it). Driving and dating was a priveledge that I had to pay my own way.

There are no stinkin jobs!

March 29th, 2010
2:11 pm

Obama came down to Georgia, he was looking to make a deal.
He was in a bind ‘cos he was way behind: the conservatives want an apeal.
When he came across this young man in a protest saying its gotta stop.
“And if you’d care to take a dare, I’ll make a bet with you.
“Now you are a pretty good protester, boy, but give the devil his due:… See More
“I bet this pen of gold against your soul, to think I’m better than you.
The boy said: “My name’s Cameron and it might be a sin,
“But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret, ‘cos this reform will never win.”

Cameron, fall on your knees and you pray to God real hard.
‘Cos liberals are loose in Georgia and the Obama’s playin’ this card.
And if you win you get this appeal stopped before it’s signed
But if you lose then Obama gets your dime.

Obama opened up his case and he said: “I’ll start this show.”
And fire flew from his fingertips as he signed his name below.
And he lit up a cigarette and it made an evil hiss.
Then a group of liberals joined in and it sounded something like this.
When Obama finished, Cameron said: “Well you’re pretty good ol’ man.
“But if you’ll sit down in that chair, right there, I’ll tell you what you’ve done.”

Fire in the white house, run boys, run.
The socialist party thinks it’s won
People being pushed around losing their dough.
“Mister does your president care?”
“No, child, no.”

Obama bowed his head because he pulled a stupid feat.
He laid that burnt up paper on the ground at Cameron’s feet.
Cameron said: “Obama just come on back if you ever want to try again.
“I told you once, you son of a bitch, this reform will never win.”

And he sang Fire in the white house, run boys, run.
The socialist party thinks it’s won
People being pushed around losing their dough.
“Mister does your president care?”
“No, child, no.”

P F

March 29th, 2010
2:30 pm

16 is a good age to start working. They are still limited in hours a week worked and other regulations. I started when I was 16 and paid for my own car, gas, and other misc expenses. At $3.40 an hour at Mickey D’s (20hrs a week), I couldn’t afford my car insurance, so I did get help there at first. But, I would like to see my wife get a job before my 17 year old son.

LydiasDad

March 29th, 2010
2:32 pm

There are no stinkin’ jobs,

It’s good, but you left out some verses. Otherwise it doesn’t match “The Devil”. Let me see if I can fill them in: After “saying it’s gotta stop”.

Obama jumped up on a hickory stump, and said “Boy, let me tell ya what”.
You probably already knew it, and I hate America, true,

Then continue with “And if you care to take a dare”.

lovelyliz

March 29th, 2010
2:36 pm

There’s a big IF here. IF the child has very good grades and is involved in civic, athletic and academic activities that are going to help them in the future (i.e. get them into the right college, help with scholarships, etc) then they can put off getting a real job for awhile. IF this doesn’t apply, they need to start working ASAP which means 14 or 15 even if it’s Mc D’s, babysitting, etc.

lovelyliz

March 29th, 2010
2:39 pm

There are no stinkin jobs! Maybe they can get pregnant, drop out of high school and get jobs as political consultant. It certainly worked for Bristol Palin.

LydiasDad

March 29th, 2010
2:45 pm

That’s relevant lovelyliz. You sound like a real deep thinker.

KEEPING IT REAL

March 29th, 2010
2:46 pm

I’m with a child having a job at 15-16 years old. With the high cost of clothes and shoes, having them pay for items will teach them a lesson early in life. Working at a young age has it’s advantages. After working at Burger King, Shoneys, Krystals and Waffle House I knew I had to go to college. I refused to work at these places 40 hours a week and get treated like crap.

Not having a child experience the dirty grunt work at a early age limits them when they get older. Being involved with school activites such as sports, band, clubs etc.. is not a reason to work. If the grades start to fall yes, work may need to be eliminated or cut back. Kids these days have it to good and parents are struggling to buy certain items, playstation, wii, ipods, clothes, shoes, cell phones etc…

Get a job and grow up.

David S

March 29th, 2010
2:50 pm

I started mowing laws for neighbors at 10. Back in those days you didn’t have the government demanding that your employer pay useless Social Security or Medicare, check you for citizenship and every other job destroying measure they have forced these days. It was just between me and my neighbors. The neighbor’s husband had died and she needed someone to cut the grass and I needed some money. Then her next door neighbor offered me a job and so did other neighbors. That’s how a kid learns the value of hard work, doing a good job, and the importance of word of mouth advertising. Today we would all likely be up on charges.

Then I took advantage of a strike by lazy grocery store workers, lied about my age, and got a job as a box-boy at only 14 1/2. You didn’t have to show tons of paperwork back then and again the relationship was between you and the employer as it always should be. Screw the union, I was a proud scab making more money then I ever thought possible, working 10-12 hours a day and even making double time on Sundays. Then the strike ended, the company kept be on as long as they could but eventually had to let me go. In all honesty the store manager probably knew I was too young to join the union and they were pressuring him to force me (closed shop and all). I learned from that job about even harder work, the value of getting some real skills so you don’t have to collect carts from a parking lot when its over 100 degrees, and how destructive unions and other labor laws are to enabling people to work. I also learned that when people know you are a hard worker, they will do what they can to keep you employed (even in the face of union scum).

At 16 I got a job at McDonalds and definitely discovered what hard work was about. I can see that most employees at McDonalds here in Atlanta don’t know what hard work is about since I never see any of them doing any, but where I worked in California, the work was hard. I learned right during the interview all I needed to know about the minimum wage too. I was offered the job and told I would be making the minimum wage. I was asked if I wanted to work the closing shift. I asked how much more it paid and I was told 25 cents more per hour and unlimited food. I obviously accepted. I delivered more value to the employer and they paid me more money. That is how it works, and why a minimum wage is so destructive for folks who are still acquiring enough job skills and value to meet that ever-rising minimum.

A kid should start doing something for money as soon as they are able. It teaches valuable lessons (many of which the parent needs to help them understand). Sitting around thinking everything should come your way without having to earn it may be how you become part of a valuable voting block in this country, but it does nothing for your self-esteem or your future.

KEEPING IT REAL

March 29th, 2010
2:54 pm

I agree David… also parents don’t ask the store manager if they are hiring, let your child do the work. Another thing, let the child fill out the application and make them put on some nice clothes (church). I seen this guy getting interviewed for a job and he had on jeans / tee shirt and boots. Why was the manager even giving him the time…..

ABC

March 29th, 2010
2:58 pm

Gosh I don’t know. While I can understand that having some kind of job teaches responsibility and the value of the dollars, I really don’t see the rush when people have to work for 40 or 50 years for the rest of their lives.

I think that the high school years should be filled with demanding academic work, sports, volunteering, scouting, arts (drama, music, drawing, etc) and the like. Those kinds of things in my opinion teach much more valuable lessons than flipping burgers 20 hrs a week.

I wouldn’t object to a summer job, as long as it is no more than 20 hrs a week. But then again, I also feel that there are few precious summers in one’s life. Soon enough they will have to work 40, 50 maybe even 60 or 70 hours a week year round. I am not crazy about starting any sooner than they have to.

And as far as teaching the value of money, my 7 and 9 year olds are already learning that by earning money doing jobs around the house and we are teaching them how to manage it: how much to spend, how much to save, how much to tithe.

jb

March 29th, 2010
3:12 pm

Just be ready for it because believe me, with the job comes the attitude with a teen. Suddenly, they make their own money and know it all in life. If I had it to do over, I would have NEVER allowed my daughter to take a job at 16 and I sure won’t let my 15 year old think about it anytime soon. I like it much better when I can get them to bath the dog or wash the car for extra money and not have all that lip that comes with “I make my own money”. Just remember that folks before you send them out there.

Becky

March 29th, 2010
3:27 pm

@jb..And with that lip that they give you, they would hear from me that they don’t make enough to support theirself, so they can keep that lip..I babysat when I was 13 until I turned 16, then I got a “reaL’ job and have been working since then..But I never told my Mom that I was making my own money that I didn’t have to do something..If I had of, I would of picked a few of my teeth up off of the floor..

lovelyliz

March 29th, 2010
3:35 pm

LydiasDad deeper than some

jb

March 29th, 2010
3:37 pm

Becky, don’t think I’ve not thought of it but then I’d just go to jail. Also, she’s been working 30-35 hours a week since she turned 16 so she actually makes pretty good money for a teen and buys all of her clothes and necessities. I just would have preferred letting her be dependent on us a little longer in life instead of jumping out there so soon and feeling like she doesn’t need us (for most things) anymore.

KEEPING IT REAL

March 29th, 2010
3:37 pm

Yeah I made my own money but I was still living in my parents house, so that killed the attitude real quick. When my dad said he would not pay $80 for a pair of converse basketball shoes back in 1985, I made up in my mind that I needed a job. Baskeball camp was $150 and I was averaging 2 pair of shoes in summer camp. Dad wasn’t to happy about me having a job but it paid for my basketball.

And yes high school does have some special momments but during the summer when kids are sitting home alone, things start to be explored especially the human body.

jb

March 29th, 2010
3:38 pm

And again, I won’t make the same mistake with the upcoming one :)

DB

March 29th, 2010
3:47 pm

I think you’re looking at it backwards — instead of approaching it, “SHOULD a child work”, I think the thought should be, “What else can give a child the same sense of satisfaction and self-confidence as earning their own money?” For some kids, who may be intensely involved in extracurriculars that involve hours and hours of practice (high level sports, high level art/music/dance), they may obtain the same sense of satisfaction and self-confidence from succeeding in those activities — and, indeed, participation in those activities may preclude an actual, paying job.

For kids who don’t have those outlets, I can’t think of a better way for a kid to exercise independence and develop a sense of confidence and self-reliance than working for someone who expects them to actually work. My daughter was one who put out babysitter flyers in the neighborhood when she finished her babysitting course at 12 — within weeks, she had a steady clientele of a dozen families, and she approached it very professionally. She had a “babysitting bag” filled with books, age-appropriate toys and inexpensive craft projects (the dollar aisle at Target is a wonderful thing . . . ) and was in huge demand for years. She later tried her hand working in the restaurant business, and quickly decided that babysitting was easier and more lucrative (and not so taxable . . .) At college, she quickly lined up a part-time job as soon as she landed on campus, and she takes a great deal of pride in refusing my offers of money: “That’s ok, Mom, I’m good,” she’ll say, even though we can well afford living expenses. She enjoys the independence.

My son was a referee from the age of 11 up until he went to college, and then he began lifeguarding in the summers (summer being an off-season for his refereeing.) He doesn’t work at college due to a very demanding course and his determination to finish in four years, but his summer work is what pays for his ‘extras’ throughout the school year – he’s gotten good at budgeting.

In both cases, I think it’s been valuable, because they’ve learned to work with other people’s expectations, adapt, and learn how to prioritize and budget their time — sometime college kids often have a VERY hard time doing.

And I’ve told both of my kids, a la Dave Ramsey, that if they sign up for a credit card, I will NOT be a co-signer and they will break their mother’s heart! :-)

jb, if either one of my kids had said, “It’s my own money,” I would have agreed, but I had made it clear that, as the parent, I still had veto power over inappropriate clothing. Or suggested that if they wanted that much independence, they needed to start paying room and board! Sometimes they spent it on things that didn’t last or that they thought they wanted, but turned out not to really need — it’s a good life lesson to learn at 16 instead of 26.

Early lessons

March 29th, 2010
3:52 pm

I realized then and now how important a college education was from lessons learned by my first few jobs, starting at 13. I worked in my Aunt’s shoe store during the holidays. $15 a day in the 70s, but it taught me how to sell and deal with customers. I also worked 2 summers in a pants factory as it provided 40 hours and overtime. This experience reinforced my desire to get an education. I knew I would go to college from an early age, but boy did these jobs make the desire even stronger! I also worked during college and had a good resume upon graduation. I am a woman who has always worked. I was taught that every opportunity provides a life lesson and a lady has to be self sufficient. I have already had your conversation with my 13 and 14 year old. They are both great students but are ready for money/career lessons in the real world. They need to learn how to compete in the working world and a little early experience will give them the edge.

DB

March 29th, 2010
4:06 pm

@jb: I want to hear the conversation with the younger one: “But you let HER do it!”