Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

When I was in high school, I worked 20-30 hours a week during the school year and full time in the summer. My husband did not work at all during high school. Our initial reaction to our children working during school was based on experience—we both thought it was unnecessary. I looked back on my high school work experience and thought about how the cooks at Pizza Hut taught me to play quarters and how the first time I ever was exposed to pot, it was from the guys at the restaurant where I worked on summer, and I absolutely didn’t want my kids to be out in that. Dave thought working during school took away from the ability to focus on homework and participate in school functions.

I recognize that not every family has a choice. Sometimes, the kids get to work as soon as possible to help support the family. We are lucky and privileged to not be in that position, but when there is a choice in the matter, it can be a tough one. Having a general rule about whether or not our kids should work part-time didn’t work for us, though, as each of our children had different needs.

Our oldest son was not involved in many extracurricular activities at school.  He had a lot of free time on his hands and was not very active socially.  He wanted to save money for after graduation.  He had very good grades.  When he wanted to continue working his summer job when school started, we had no reason to say no.

When Kira was 16, she wanted to work. She never had enough clothes and always had a busy social calendar.  We discouraged her from working because she was a varsity cheerleader who had several obligations during the summer and school year and barely had time to keep up with homework and spend a small amount of time with her family.  She was a straight A student, but the demands placed on her by being on her team were more than enough for someone her age.  We allowed her to baby-sit (and paid her to baby-sit her younger brother and sister). Babysitting was a great way to make extra money while still allowing her the flexibility she needs. Eventually, she got a job at Cafe Ole, where she worked until the jerky boss wouldn’t deal with the jerky cooks who kept hitting on her.

Parker and Anika benefit from us owning a business. Parker is actually responsible for much of the repair of this website. When I moved from one host to another, it wiped out all of the images. He has painstakingly gone through the older blogs and reviewed them, adding images and pulling blogs that no longer have any relevance. Anika is just getting to the age where she can work, but because she’s graduating from high school early, she won’t even turn 16 until part-way through her senior year, making it unlikely that she’ll have the time to get a job. She also has worked for us in the past, and she’s publishing her first book and working on her second, so I’m not worried.

Whether or not to let your child have a part-time job depends a lot on the child. Like everything else with raising kids, whether or not you should let your child work part-time is an individual decision based on that child’s needs and abilities.