Our Discussions

Is it a good idea for teenagers to have a job?
1 ( a mother)

Dear Madar-Pedar,

I'm writing on behalf of a friend who is a single mom with 2 kids - son is 8 and daughter is 16. Her daughter recently started working this summar part time at an ice cream store. My friend is wondering how to help her daughter learn responsibility about the money that she will earn. Her daughter is used to having everything provided to her and mom doesn't feel that the daughter has learned the aspect of saving money or spending wisely. Even though the daughter is 16, she does not have a drivers license and has no motivation to get one or get a car (my first thought on motivation for saving money). Daughter gets $5/week allowance and is reasonable about not asking for things that mom can't afford. Bottom line though is how to help this dear girl learn about money and responsibility? Mom is willing to do what she needs to make any changes. By the way, this is only a part time job during the summer. Mom's afraid that if daughter continues to work thru high school year that she'll get further away from her academics. My own experience is that in my family all the kids started working part time from 16 even through the school year - just less hours. How do madar-pedars feel about having their kids work during the summer and/or school year? How can my friend help her daughter learn to do good things with the money she will earn this summer (clothes is the major excitement for her daughter.)

2 ( a pedar)

I opened an account with debit cards for my daughters when they turned 14. We developed a budget for things that they need over a year and I started to contribute 1/12th of the money to their account every month. It took them few months to understand the fact that they need to keep some money for larger items, and cannot spend all the money by the end of the month. After few months they are managing very well. They accumulate money for large items, things that they buy one or two in a year and can plan for longer and longer time frames. My elder daughter is 16.5 and she has been saving for two years for a backpack trip.

3 ( a madar)

On age 16 I was a very responsible teenager . I remember , I would save all my weekly money to buy cloths and shoe for myself . Buying fancy cloths or teenager related items was out of questions . I would not allow myself to do that . I wanted to do everything to help my Mom . My mom was proud of me and always " Tarif" of me .

My Brother on the other hand was a big spender . He would spend all his weekly money on food or going out with his friends and have fun . My mom would end up buying his cloths and brand name shoes and other stuff . She would always say he will be in trouble in the future .

Now we both are grown up . He is a very successful business man . He knows how to make money and is supporting his small family since he was 20 .(We lost our Mom when he was 20) He got married at age 22 and fully paid for his wedding, Home , Car and other stuff ..

Now that I look back I see that I lost my teenage years and all the things I liked to have just because I wanted to make my mom happy . We both learned how to manage our money when we were in appropriate age . But there is a big difference , My Brother had a great teenage time ! I would never feel the same way a teenager feels by getting a brand name shoe or cloths . Now I have the money to buy it but unfortunately don't have the age !!!

Don't get me wrong I am not against teaching our children how to spend their money . I am against being so restricted and "Follow the rules" on their needs .

4 ( a madar)

I have to agree with Madar#3. It sounds like this young lady is managing her finances just fine. She is satisfied with $5.00 a week which most teen-agers aren't, she doesn't ask for unreasonable things, and she is working in the summer.

I think she is doing just fine. It just seems that she is not too much into material things, which isn't so bad. I think her mom should count her blessings and relax.

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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