It isn’t uncommon to hear teens today say things like, “I wouldn’t be caught dead flipping hamburgers.”
I always want to jump in and give them the old, “When I was young…..” lecture, but doubt that it would do a lot of good, coming from someone of my generation.
What they need is to have a good work ethic taught to them from early childhood on. Except for a good spiritual foundation, I can’t think of anything that will benefit your child more than the knowledge of how to work in order to take care of themselves when they grow older. If you don’t think that is true, take a look at the huge numbers of young people flocking back to their parents homes these days because they can’t find work, or at least not the kind of work they want to do.
The same goes for the number of young unmarried mother’s living on welfare, because they have never been trained to take care of themselves, much less, a dependent child.
As a parent, you can change this and here’s how.
1. Require Something Daily from Each of Your Children, Even Very Young Ones
If nothing, or very little, is required of a child for the first 18 years of his life, it is unrealistic to expect him or her to suddenly be able to take care of all of his own needs. Of course it is easier to clean a kid’s room yourself than to have to battle to get him or her to do it, but if you start teaching him early that keeping his room clean is his responsibility, it will eventually become a habit and no battles will be needed.
2. Make Sure There are Consequences When a Child Doesn’t Do What is Expected of Him
Don’t be afraid to say “no TV or Video Games until ALL chores are done, including homework.” No whining, no putting off until later, and no trying to get someone else to do it for you. As a teacher, I can’t count the number of parents I have had say things like, “I try, but they just won’t do their homework.” If a parent can’t get a child to do his or her homework, how can they expect that same child to show up for work on time, or to do a good job for an employer when he gets older? If we throw up our hands and let the child neglect what is clearly his job, we are failures as parents.
3. Talk Often With Your Children About Money
Children need to know, early on, that just because there is something we like at a store doesn’t mean we are going to buy it. Help them learn to distinguish the difference between needing an item and wanting it.
I have a friend who, when one of her children wants to buy a non-essential item, always has them wait at a week. During that week, she has the child explain the benefits of the purchase and asks him to look into whether it could be obtained for less money at another place. Much of the time, by the time the week has passed, the child has forgotten the “must have” item and has already fixed his mind on something else.
If you give your children an allowance, explain that that money is to cover their expenses for the week, or month and make sure they realize what those expenses include. Instead of letting them rush off to the store to find something to spend their allowance on, talk about how they need to put aside enough money to cover the things they need before thinking about “extras.” Let them know from the beginning, under what circumstances they will or will not be given additional money, and what additional chores they might do to earn extra money if they need it.
(If they are old enough to work at a part-time job outside the home, help them make a list of their skills and places they could ask for work.)
Teach your kids that there is no disgrace in doing a hard, or a dirty job as long as it is honest and within their ability to do it well.
4. Encourage Career Interests Even in Very Young Children.
By this, I don’t mean you should constantly push a child toward a particular career. Just the opposite. Make sure you make books available that show many careers in operation. Look for opportunities where your child can visit adults who work in different fields–and see them on the job if possible. Talk about different careers, especially unusual ones. If you see a lot of interest in one career over another, make opportunities for the child to find out more about that career.
5. Gift Your Child by Helping Him Develop a Specialty (Extremely important.)
Today’s economy isn’t an encouraging one. You can give your child a priceless gift by helping him or her develop a specialty. This is different from training for a specific career. It is more unique -something your child can adapt over the years into something that he or she could use to earn a few dollars to get by whenever the need arose.
One such specialty could be singing for special occasions if your child has a talent for singing. Weddings pay nicely for soloists. True, weddings don’t come along every day, but, with a bit of advertising, and word of mouth promotion, a person could be in demand for other occasions, too.
Cake decorating pays well, and if the child can bake the cake as well, he can sell it for a little less than Albertson’s or Safeway, and clients will probably be lining up at the door .
Becoming an online affiliate for a product your child is enthusiastic about is another great field he can develop during his teen years, and turn into a full-time business later if it does well. Encourage him to develop a website offering products he is promoting and encourage him to set up a simple bookkeeping system to keep track of his sales, etc.
Doing custom sewing is a another great way to earn a little extra money. Maybe your daughter has a pattern for the most beautiful baby blanket in the world. People are always interested in getting their hands on a gift that is different–something unusual–and are willing to pay good money for it.
Online research is a field that is interesting and that can easily be worked into a typical teen’s schedule. Again, encourage your child to keep good records of his clients, the hours worked, the payment received, etc.
When I was a teenager, at my mother’s suggestion, I put an ad in the local newspaper offering to do typing for so much a page on my old manual typewriter. An author who became well known in our area later on, hired me to type his manuscript. I didn’t make a fortune, but that job paid for my yearbook that year and my class ring.
The point is, that you, as a parent, can help your child see possibilities and start to develop them before the child is out on his own and facing rent payments, grocery bills, and health insurance costs. Don’t consider your job as a parent done until each child has some kind of specialty to fall back on. Even if the specialty doesn’t earn a lot of money, you will have helped the child learn how to create a job for himself and that is one of the best gifts you could ever give him.