Friday, May 7, 2010
“Bear one another’s burdens, but each one will bear his own load” -Gal. 6:2,5
As summer quickly approaches, most teenagers are thinking about the summer schedule and the infamous summer job. Many parents are arranging those jobs for their teens which is okay, but it’s better when they figure it out on their own. Too often we’re helicopter parents, hovering over our teens, taking care of it all for them.
I remember getting ready for summer at the end of my freshman year of high school in Fort Worth, Texas. I knew I was going to Young Life’s Frontier camp during August, but June and July were open. My buddies were getting jobs and I kinda wanted one too. So, I began the search and scoured the employment section of the newspaper. There was a job opening at a Taco Bell in the tough part of Fort Worth. I went and interviewed and I was hired to work the six to midnight shift. So, for June and July I worked the late shift at Taco Bell. It was a tough experience, but so good for me. It was good because it was my deal. I owned it. I found it. I interviewed and I got the job all by myself. My dad didn't work it out for me. Years later, my parents laughed with me about that job. They told me they were both shocked when I went and got that job. I was too, but my self-esteem and confidence grew a lot that summer. And I made a little money too. By the way, minimum wage in 1973 was a whopping $1.60. Today its nearly $8.00. Crazy.
It can be so difficult not to help out our kids. Sure, there are times when we need to jump in and help, but most of the time, we’re taking responsibility when we really need to back off and let our teen work it out. They need to bear the load themselves and we need to do the hard work of doing nothing.
We do need to remind them that in the high school years, allowance is their responsibility in the summer. We remind them that they have chores to do if they’re living in the home. We remind them that there are guidelines of respect that exist for everyone in the family. Then we leave it up to them. If they’re prepared to live on the modest amount we supply as parents for the essentials, then that’s their choice. They learn that if they’d like to “up their standard of living” then they’ll either have to win the lottery (just kidding) or find a job somewhere.
It’s all a part of learning responsibility and teenagers have to learn that on their own. Don't expect a pat on the back for this one. We all struggle a bit with work. We’d all rather take a vacation than practice a vocation (I just made that up, thank you). But learning the value of work as a teenager better prepares adolescents for a life of purpose and work later on.
So, be the encourager as your teen is learning to take responsibility and if they land at the neighborhood Taco Bell, cheer them on!
by Joseph Staples ©