Monday, January 14, 2013

My Older Son Wants a Real Job

Where did I get the idea that it was a federal law thing that said that people have to be 16 to get a real job?

I knew Connecticut had specific state laws, such as the one put in place after a teen at my high school had her arm cut off at the elbow after getting it caught in a deli slicer at work, which banned use of deli slicer machines until age 18.  But I thought everywhere you had to be 16 to work at what I call a "regular real job".

I questioned this and thanks to Google I discovered that I was wrong. I found an easy to read summary of the Texas child labor laws. In Texas a 14 or 15 year old can get a real job in many different job fields, certain dangerous jobs are prohibited until age 16.  Hours of work are limited but they are not as restrictive in Texas as in Connecticut.

I recall another Connecticut law put in place that even a 16 year old had to get written permission from their school in order to take a job and also that the hours of work were severely limited. What I worked when I was a senior in high school is illegal in that state today. It is illegal to work at 14 in Connecticut other than babysitting or other under the table jobs and 15 year olds can hardly do much more other than working at a summer camp.

I always wanted my kids to get a job before they graduate from high school. I think it teaches kids a level of responsibility that parents cannot replicate at home. I think learning some hard knocks from working with seasoned and sometimes hardened-hearted people in "the real world" is valuable. Working with the public such as in a food service job taught me a lot about human nature and made me think about how we treat others in our daily interactions. I learned a lot about myself by viewing myself as a responsible employee not just who I was as a public school student or the oldest kid in my family or as the only girl in my grade in the neighborhood.

My older son yearns to get a job and make money and have real responsibility. I am so sick of the teen angst that I am ready for him to go get a job now instead of waiting until he is seventeen, at which point I'd hoped he'd be driving and own his own car to get himself to work in.

I can't help but wonder if any of his homeschooling rebellion would end once he feels he is in the real world working a real job and earning real money. I am willing to roll the dice and see how it works out.  My fear is he will struggle to juggle a full academic load and his varsity sport, and will he ever get his Eagle rank in Boy Scouts? What about the excellent opportunity in the FIRST Robotics team? My son may learn a lot about how to prioritize his time and maybe he'll realize he truly is more in charge of his own life than he currently believes.

I'm willing to let go and see what happens.


Deborah said...

My daughter (15) wants a real job too. She can have a part time job in our neighborhood when she turns 16, but she wants me to drive her to town for a Real Job NOW. I have mixed feelings...I think that if she devoted that time to academics/personal growth, it would have long term benefits that working in a restaurant (or similar) would not give her. I had those kinds of jobs as an older teen and during my summers in college, and frankly no one was interested in the fact that I could do a low skill job and stick with it, when I started looking for a Real Job after college. My husband never did have a summer job: in his breaks he learned new programming languages and worked as a musician (and in the library at college)...and guess which of us has more marketable skills and makes more money? That's right...the one who didn't spend his time drudging away at jobs that can be mastered in a few minutes, or days...the one who wasn't guilted into a summer job by his parents, the one who spent that time investing in his intellectual future. I know why my daughter wants a job: she wants economic power, and she wants to be a person who has a Job, with the grownup status it confers. I hope she doesn't turn her short term pursuit of cash and identity into an activity that shortchanges her in the long term.

My name is Tiffany said...

Yes, I had my first job at 14. Burger King hired me and I worked all summer. It was hard work but I enjoyed earning my own money. I'm sure it will be an adjustment for him but the added responsiblity may be good for him. If I remember correctly I was only allowed to work 20 hours or less my first job.