By Rachel Paxton
The teenage years are a crucial time in a child's life. They are not children anymore, but they are also not adults. During this time the choices they make may have an effect on them for the rest of their lives. It is the parents' responsibility to guide their teenagers in the right direction by helping them make responsible choices and building their character to the point that when their teenagers move out of the house they are on the road to being responsible adults and have the tools they need to succeed in life.
There are a number of ways that parents can help teenagers build their character. One way is through part-time employment. Having a job provides many learning opportunities for teens.
* It teaches them what it takes to make a living, and that it is hard work to earn money to pay bills.
* They have the opportunity to learn to manage their own money and make choices of how they will spend it.
* If parents gives their teens the responsibility of paying for some of their own bills (e.g., car insurance, gas, clothing, cell phone, lunches out, etc.), then teens will realize they will only be able to have these things if they pay for them and will have to decide if it is worth it to them or not. Their priorities suddenly change when it is their money they are spending. They don't necessarily have to pay all their own bills, giving them a couple of expenses to take care of will teach them to pay their own way and make responsible choices with their money.
* Working is one way for teens to learn to get along with and work along side other people, a very crucial step in character development. How many adults do you know that can't get along with other people! Teens learn that you won't always like everyone you work with, but that it doesn't matter. You still do your job and have a good attitude about it, treating others as you wish to be treated.
* The process of looking for a job requires teenagers to take a good look at themselves and their abilities, helping them to see what kind of people they want to be and what they ultimately want to do with their lives.
* Job experience is the first step to building a successful resume. Any jobs a teen has will look good on college applications and be a stepping stone to future employment.
Of course, all this sounds great but in reality can be difficult to put into practice. The first job our daughter had she got laid off from because she and her boss could not come to agreement on the hours she would work. After she started working there he changed the hours he said she could work and it conflicted with other activities she had. It was very hard for her to feel like she was "fired" from her first job. We had to talk through a lot of the feelings she had towards her boss and some of the experiences she had at that job. But because she chose to honor her boss by showing him respect when he didn't necessarily deserve it, he gave her an excellent reference for her next job.
A couple of months later she did find another job that was much better than the first one, and she had many great learning experiences of working with others and learning to serve others even when it was very hard work.
Parents can't just throw their teens out into the workplace and expect everything will go great. Issues will arise that need to be worked through with the parents' help, but this is where the learning occurs, and character development begins!
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