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When a teenagers' job interferes with study

As a parent there are only so many things you are prepared to buy your demanding teenager. At some point, all parents say, "If you want that, then go get a job to pay for it". Much to the parents surprise, even the most defiant and stroppy teenager, will go and get themselves a part time job. The parents may not be entirely happy about where the job is located, or the type of work that the teenager is doing, but they may need to bite their lip and accept the fact; their teenager has made an independent decision, and the parent needs to support them. The teenager is unlikely to have a very high level job, but they will soon take it seriously when they get their fist pay packet.

Teenagers are cheap to employ, but can only work certain hours if they are under eighteen. Employers who find a teenager keen to work as many hours as possible, will give them the work in preference to an adult who costs more. Parents need to keep an eye on the hours their teenager is working, to ensure that they are not being taken advantage of by the employer, and that the work does not exhaust their teen so much they find school work difficult. It would be a good idea to talk to the teenager about employment law, to help them understand that they have rights and the employer has responsibilities.

A teenager who is less good at high school academically may gain a great deal of self esteem from a part time job; it may be the one place they do not feel like they are failing. This can bring its own problems. If work is more appealing than school, then studying will lose out in favor of doing overtime and the teenager may agree to work off the books to gain more money. Where parents are having difficulty disciplining their teenager, criticizing their work is likely to cause further problems.

The teenager will see this as just one more reason to distrust and disconnect from their parents; they will not understand that the parent is worried about them being exploited. The financial freedom that earning money gives the defiant teen, may mean that they are able to buy the very items the parents worry about, such as drugs and alcohol. If the teenagers work is interfering with their study, parents will need to consider whether the teen should either give up the job, or reduce their hours.

If the teen will lose financially and parents feel it is critical, they could subsidize the lost earnings, matched to a study contract whereby the teen agrees to complete so many hours on schoolwork per week in return for an allowance from the parents. A part time job could be just what a defiant teen needs to learn self control and boost their self esteem; this needs to be balanced against any detrimental effect it has on their schoolwork.

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