The economic crisis is forcing more and more families to consider different ways of making ends meet. Unfortunately, for many Latino families this may mean that a teenager has to get a job. And although having a summer job can be a valuable experience (more on this later), you may want to carefully consider the impact that a full-time job or even a part-time job during the school year might have on your child’s education.
Even though some research shows that as long as your child works under 20 hours a week, their academics won’t suffer, there are other reports that have found just the opposite. These studies show that any amount of part-time work can cause grades to suffer and also increase the chances that your child will get into trouble, abuse alcohol or skip school. No doubt, the effects of a job on your kid largely depend on:
- How many hours they work
- Their ability to focus on their academics
- The amount of support at home for work/school balance
- Their personality
- Their ability to cope with the added responsibility
When a child works to help put food on the table there is a significant amount of stress attached to their job. The sense of responsibility on their shoulders is much bigger than if they work because they want to have a few dollars to buy videos or go out with their friends.
You may be wise to do everything in your power to solve your economic problems yourself before you consider sending your teen to work to help with your family’s finances. As a parent, your kids should always be your priority, so giving them the best shot possible to succeed might mean to make some sacrifices you didn’t plan on. Like postponing the purchase of a new car, or even moving in with family members to save on rent and childcare.
Choosing the Right Summer Job.
A summer job is a different story. In this case you can help your kid choose a job that offers valuable lessons for the future. Some of the benefits of a summer job include:
- Acquiring a good work ethic and real-life experience
- Developing a sense of how hard it is to earn money
- Having some personal spending money
- Practicing time management skills
- Exploring possible career choices
- Developing relationships with potential, future employers
The idea is to help your child find a job in a field for which they might have a particular interest. For example, if they want to go into the medical field, it makes sense to try to find something at a local community health center, nursing home or children’s hospital. Not only will this kind of job provide an overview of the field and help them develop some specific skills, but it will also look good on college applications.
Beware of the harsh consequences of asking your child to find a job.
If your family situation forces you to ask your child to look for a job, make sure that they only work part-time and that you help them balance their academics with their workload. One of the main reasons many Latino students drop out of high school is the need of students to help their family financially. So be aware that asking your child to work puts them at a higher risk of not finishing high school. And that is almost a guarantee that they will never make more money per hour than whatever they’ll be making today.