At the age of eleven, I spent six weeks in the country as a mother’s helper. (My family was back in the city, so I was pretty much on my own.) A family friend had a new baby and needed help with a toddler. I happily volunteered and off I went. If my memory serves me well, I was paid a whole $20 bill for my trouble – a substantial sum in those days, especially for an 11-year-old. But the best thing I took home with me was the friendships I formed with kids my age and memories of the great time we had (during the hours my help was not required).
Moreover, I recall coming home and heading straight to the local dime store to blow my wage on tchachkes for my younger sibs. Now that was a high, having my own money and spending it as I wished. Of course at eleven there is zero understanding of financial planning.
You answer your own question when you ask whether working all summer offers real benefit to a teen. You opine that it does to some degree, for, as you experienced, it imbues one with ambition. Another reason readily comes to mind: it teaches responsibility and also offers the teenager a hint of what it takes for parents to run a household. Children naturally take the comforts of home for granted and hardly give thought or consideration to the effort that goes into maintaining those comforts. When they take a job for real is when they begin to have a modicum of appreciation for what it means to support a family.
Allow me to take it a step further: Grown children still living at home with their parents and going to work should be contributing to the household income. I can hear some readers gasping in disbelief. Parents taking rent from their children? Ridiculous, they say. Not so. There is no reason why adult children who earn a wage shouldn’t be paying their fair share, especially if their parents are struggling financially or just making do.
This also goes a long way in instilling a sense of responsibility in young adults, which will certainly bode well for them in the long run. In fact, if the parents don’t need the money, they can set it aside and present the accumulated sum to their children when they are ready to settle down on their own. The unexpected “gift” will be greatly appreciated, while an important lesson will have been learned.
Thank you for sharing your opinion and experiences with our readers.