Dr. Walt's Health Blog

The ABCD’s of Parenting – Part 6

This is the sixth part in a series excerpted from my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.

CONNECTING WITH THE WORKADAY WORLD

If your teen is not overscheduled and you feel good about the family connectedness, then part-time work may be another way your teen can develop into a highly healthy adult. After all, he or she does need to learn how to work, and the last I checked, the best way to learn how to work is to work!

I know this may be a novel concept in some quarters, but I think it’s good for young people to toil in the hot sun or next to a sizzling grill. Honest work teaches young people tenacity, how to handle responsibility, and the value of a dollar.

It also teaches teens how to interact with and connect with adults and the adult world in which they’ll need to operate.

Ideally, your teen’s job should be a good match for his or her temperament, gifts, talents, and interests. Your guidance and affirmation can help steer in that direction.

Many teens find that, with a full academic load and involvement in school and extracurricular activities, as well as in club or youth group activities, the opportunity to work during the school year may be pretty limited.

It was that way for our teens, who were more available to work in the summer months than during the school year.

Barb and I didn’t want them to think of summertime as lounge-around, throwaway months but as an opportunity to gain additional education. We steered them toward jobs that would either enhance their values or their job skills.

For instance, when Kate (our daughter) started getting asked to babysit, Barb and I thought it’d be good for her to take a babysitting certification course at a local hospital. She was shown how to take care of babies—how to properly hold them, feed them, change their diapers, and place them in their cribs.

The course was a great skill-builder for her, and we saw Kate’s love for children grow. Having a certificate in her hand helped her land more babysitting jobs in the neighborhood—and even charge a bit more than the going rates.

Scott (our son) worked the neighborhood in a different way—mowing lawns, clearing out brush, and trimming bushes and hedges. In the Florida summertime, that was backbreaking work. He took a couple of sales jobs when he got older, working at ticket outlets and interacting with the public.

While I can wax poetic about the virtues of hard work, I must temper my comments by pointing out several realities: working more than several hours a week during the school year can negatively affect their grades, keep them from pursuing extracurricular activities that range from sports to drama to chess club, and cause them to skip out on Wednesday night youth group.

Therefore, I’d recommend that teens’ work during the school year should be very limited—maybe even limited to Saturdays and holiday periods. After all, they already have another important job to do—nurturing healthy connections with friends, working hard in school, and taking part in healthy extracurricular activities, right?

As you implement the principles we’ve discussed in this chapter, remember this: Research from the fields of social science, public health, medicine, psychology, and education consistently demonstrate that “parent-teen connectedness” (the term used by researchers ) is a critical factor for a variety of teen health outcomes, including the prevention of nonmarital sex and pregnancy, STIs, HIV, depression, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, violent behavior, and poor school performance, just to name a few.

My hope and prayer is that the ideas we’ve explored will assist you in one of the most important jobs your Creator has ever given you—connecting with your teen as he or she grows into a highly healthy person.

And, as you’ll see in the next chapter, a strong, mutually comfortable connection with your teen will pay huge dividends as you guide him or her through those turbulent waters of teen sexual activity.

To learn more, you can read these other posts:

Here are three other posts that may be helpful in nurturing highly, healthy teens:

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