Summer is well under way as are all the free time opportunities. What are you kids up to? Because there’s more than x-Box to fill the empty spaces. Time Magazine reported this week that the job market offers a few options for those that are willing. Here’s some of what Brad Tuttle had to say in Summer Jobs Market Bounces Back – But Most Teens Won’t Work Anyway:

Last summer, 1.1 million Americans ages 16 to 19 found summer jobs, up from 960,000 the summer before. In both cases, per NPR, the figures meant that slightly less than 30% of teens who could work were working. In the ’90s and through 2000, by contrast, more than 50% of this demographic were regularly working summer jobs.

The awful state of the jobs market in recent years—summer jobs or otherwise—have surely played a role in declining teen employment. In many cases, teens have been competing for jobs with people in their 20s or older who are out of work, who are desperate to please any boss in return for a check, and who have more work experience than the typical teenager.

But there’s something else playing a role in years of declining teen employment. Namely, the fact that many teens aren’t even trying to get hired. A Baltimore Sun story cites a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey from last summer about teen employment. Simply put, the vast majority of teens “said they did not want to work.”


When they were toddlers, we were never deterred by the “I don’t want to”s – so why now?
Mom: “Put your shoes on.”
Child: “I don’t want to.”
Mom: “It doesn’t matter whether you want to. Put your shoes on!”

We could trade out so many things for shoes, like “Eat your dinner”, or “Quit hitting your sister”, or “Get out of the street!” Some imperatives we lob at our kids are life saving. Might gainful employment fall into that category? It’s not life or death, but it just might be a determining factor in life after our homes.

With the job market tight, a little creativity goes a long way. Sometimes we have to look at the principal rather than payment. Maybe job sharing or volunteering will be the way our kids can learn things like:

  • when you work, you answer to someone other than yourself (or your parents)
  • work expects you to show up whether you want to or not
  • work, though sometimes exciting and fun, is often mundane
  • work ushers in confidence, satisfaction, independence

And it just might provide a laugh or two for us along the way…


Are your kids too young to get a job? A few of mine are! A wise friend told me that when their kids were young, she found projects around their house that would normally be hire out. She paid her kids to do them. In her mind, the worst thing that could happen would be a completely botched job where the professional she would have hired anyway could come fix it. The best thing that could happen? A few kids doing something they never thought they could. Not only doing it, but seeing their handiwork every day – a major confidence infusion for sure.

Did you work in the summer? Please share what you did and what you learned. Also, if you have an employed teen – let us know what he/she is up to. It just might spark some job excitement in other homes.

Thanks for walking the road with me!


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