When I was a teen, I always had a job. Not because I needed money, but because if I didn’t have one, I knew I’d be hanging with the stone-heads instead. And, well, to be honest, it got me away from my family and from school where I least wanted to be.
I worked at a music and video store for a long time, and got all the inside info about local concerts. So, I worked my butt off stocking and working the register, then spent all my money on gas, insurance and concerts. I think I saw 15 or so Oingo Boingo concerts, in addition to Bruce Springsteen, De La Soul, The Cure, U2, Huey Lewis and the News, Depeche Mode, Erasure… ah, those were shining times during very difficult years.
Then, later, I worked in a book store. What an AWESOME place to work, especially for a logical/print learner like me – I got to SORT and READ! It was like Christmas everyday. 🙂 Lastly, I worked for many years at a computer lab. Also great for a communicator/teacher like me.
My jobs gave meaning to my life as a teen. And gave me something to identify myself with, somewhere to go, and I felt important – I was the music/book/computer expert. Not the one being told what to do all the time. Talk about empowering for a teen.
There are lots of great job opportunities for teens that aren’t McDonald’s. Here in Cali, a lot of teens and college students work at In’n’Out – high pay and good working conditions. Indie book stores, musics stores, clothing stores – those are also good. I wouldn’t recommend waitressing (did that) because it’s such a demanding job and hard on the body, but some teens do enjoy that kind of work (tips at some places can be really good). Some of the stronger guys work at UPS, and make bank working at night. Some teens work at the park and rec working with kids. Others make arrangements with carpenters, handy men, painters, etc, as day labor.
A (fun, interesting) job is a great way to give a teen direction, and they are learning very important life lessons at the same time. And gives them power, so they can say they are their own person and learn who they are.
So, if you’re deschooling and you don’t know what to do with your teen. Tell them – Get a job!