I gave birth to my son December 31, 2001. This year he turned 16. He doesn’t exactly like the term “Sweet 16” but is was sweet for me none the less. Bittersweet actually.
I have seen such a change in him since last year. The moodiness of a young teenager has lessened and a more mature young man has emerged. He thinks of what he wants to do in his future and has already started planning for it accordingly.
When he was just 15 he started working at the grocery store with me and his dad. Cashiering is perfect for him.
I was a little worried, I must admit about how he would take to working. How he would feel with a different schedule every week and how he would juggle school, work and basketball practice. I was right there listening to his words and ready to act if he got too overwhelmed and a couple of times he did, but in the end I just let him sort through those feeling himself. If he needed an ear I was there but otherwise my philosophy so far has been to watch and see what happens.
I can’t tell you how wonderful and how extremely liberating it is for a young person to have a job and to start becoming independent. The money my son has earned has not been lost on him.
Items I would normally buy for him are not quite necessary for him to survive now that he has to pay for them himself. I see him value money much more and it makes me laugh out loud sometimes!
He has opened a checking account, has a debit card, has gotten a driver’s permit, has been looking at used cars and figuring out how to pay for one with his own money and he has become very thoughtful with his new found wealth.
The laptop I am typing on right now was mostly purchased with his own hard earned money. I was almost embarrassed to accept such an extravagant gift from my young son but he said I deserved it for all of the things I have done for him. Also for Christmas he bought a brand new coffee maker for his father which was a proud moment for my ex-husband as well.
Next year, in his junior year of high school he will be attending afternoon BOCES classes and will be studying computers and many manufacturing and engineering principles. He also has his path for college mapped out and hopefully, if all goes well he will graduate from college with a degree in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in computers.
I hear a lot from the generation ahead of me how the next generation is entitled and lazy and whose work ethic is sorely lacking. And do you know what I say to that? I think the youngest generation emerging into the work force is smarter and more advanced than any other generation before us.
They need to be challenged. They need to be engaged. They need to be pushed. They need to be given the freedom to explore and dream. They need their talents used and not pushed aside.
I am so excited for my son. I am excited to see what he becomes. Thank God I survived his terrible two’s and his temper tantrums (because he was a real shit lol!) and those sleepless nights. I keep telling him good thing you were so cute…
How about you? What is your parenting philosophy on teens working? What was your first job? Mine? I was a private gardener 😉 -MM