The pros and cons of part-time, after-school jobs for teens

Posted at 5:53 AM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 07:08:20-04

(WXYZ) — Whether it's babysitting, busing tables or a grocery store cashier, after-school jobs are a time-honored tradition, but not for everybody.

James Northern, 14, from Southfield, launched his own service cutting lanws this past summer.

“I did weeding, I did lemonade sales, I did cutting grass, I edged grass, and I also put down weed fabric and mulch," he said.

In all, he ended up bringing in about $900. He said he had about 45 jobs this summer, and now, he's thinking about how he'll spend the money.

"I just want to save up for different things that are going to come ahead, and if I save up enough, I might be able to get myself a car," he said.

James' mom has been advertising his services on the Nextdoor app. His dad said James wants to make sure every lawn is perfect, and that this business is his son's idea, not theirs.

“James has a personality that once you meet him, once you start to talk to him, you realize how mature he actually is," his dad said.

Susan Zalupski, a psychotherapist in the Northville area, said some of the pros of part-time jobs for teens include being responsible, practicing time management, gaining social skills by working with others and learning to make money.

"Kids do better in life when they have had to work for things, right? And I think that’s really is the key here is helping your kids learn how to work towards the good things or the things they want in life or their goals or whatever," she said.

Some of the cons though, she said, are taking away the focus from school or after-school activities, now allowing enough downtime to be a kid, and becoming overscheduled.

“A lot of the go-getters – the early go-getters that you see in high school, tend to over-schedule themselves and they get themselves into pickles about, you know, when tests are coming due or finals or whatever and everything kind of can come to a head and it can become very, very stressful," she said.

James said he plans to work through the winter by shoveling or blowing snow.

Zalupski said the best advice for parents is to set clear limits regarding their child's schedule, such as how many hours and days they can work, and then communicate those expectations.

Also, watch out for any signs of stress or clues they may be getting overwhelmed.

If your child has never had a paid position, they may want to start small with a neighborhood job here or there, and then expand into a more regular part-time job next summer.