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.