When age 14 is reached, teens start thinking about working outside the home. Some children start working out of the home at age 10 or 12 doing lawn care or short-term similar jobs.

In my opinion, children should be kept in productive activities as early as possible depending on capabilities and safety. At least by age 14 children should start earning and budgeting money. Many places cannot hire someone until they are 16, so working at age 14 and 15 may require some creative thinking in figuring out ways to earn money.

A first job outside the home sets a pattern that may last a lifetime in the work habits a teen learns and that teen’s ability to take orders from supervisors. Teens also learn responsibility and the fact that many times they must work whether they feel like it or not.

Parents need to have a talk with their teens before that first job and make sure they understand the following:

A worker should arrive within a 15 minute time frame of the time they start work and should leave after time to get off work. Workers must obey supervisors without question. The worker is not the boss. The boss is the boss. When instructions are not understood, ask for clarification instead of guessing and possibly doing something wrong. Be loyal to the company or person for whom the work is being done. Be pleasant. Do not complain. Many people could have been chosen for the job and others can replace you. Do not make promises you can’t or won’t keep. When you make a mistake, apologize and move on. Don’t dwell on it. Everyone makes mistakes. If you are making a lot of mistakes, perhaps you should look for a job more suited to your abilities. Make out a budget. Since there is no rent expense, a larger amount can be saved. Ten percent should be given to charity. Car expense should be included in a budget. Food expense should be figured closely as most teens tend to waste a lot of money on drinks and fast food. Soft drinks have no nutritional value. Drinking water instead of soft drinks can save a lot of money. If driving to work, proper care of the car is necessary. This includes oil changes as well as gas. Sometimes workers lose jobs for reasons other than performance. Many businesses hire employees temporarily to avoid paying benefits.

Teens have a great amount of energy and vitality to offer to a job. They can do much that older people can’t do and are a valuable resource if in the right position. My husband and I have always told our children, “If you make money for your company, you will have a job. If you lose money for your company, you will lose your job.” Businesses exist for the purpose of making money. They don’t exist for individuals. That is the reality of life.

Unfortunately, often politics enter into whether a person has a job, as well. Sometimes friends get chosen for positions even if another deserves it. Teens must learn that life is not fair, but they, themselves, need to be fair whether or not others are fair to them. Much of this can be learned on a teen’s first job.