Teens need the experience of doing work

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baling
(Farm and Dairy photo of baling)

There is a special place in Heaven for employers who hire teenage workers. They are often at best inexperienced, at worst unprofessional, and in more civilized states barred by law from taking part in all the really useful child labor practices involving heights, flames and knives.

I know some people who are adamantly against their teens working.

“School is their job” they say.

I respect other people’s parenting for their children. As the young folk say, “you do you fam.”

Not working

I, on the other hand, am adamantly against my teens not working. If we won the lottery tomorrow I would still say “that’s nice dear. Now get a job.”

I think teenage employment provides so much education beyond what they learn on the job and sets them up for life habits.

Learn to fill out an application. Type up a resume. Interview. Make a good first impression. Get up. Dress up (or down). Show up. Learn to follow directions. Just in time is late. Late is wrong. Some people are difficult. Some days are too. Do your job anyway.

Dig. Dig a ditch. Park cars or bale hay. On a hot day. Work retail and customer service. On Black Friday. Or any busy holiday. Work with food. Take orders. Bus tables. Listen to the complaints.

Learn responsibility

Learn what it means when someone comes in three minutes before closing and orders salad bar. Work for tips. Get bossed around. Learn to keep track of a schedule. Balance academics, athletics, a social life and working. Learn that what your mom and dad thinks doesn’t impress your boss or manager all that much.

If you work for mom and dad let me give you this bit of advice: even if only for a little while, work for someone else. If you are the parent of a teen employee or just a villager with an interest in the future of our young people, let me share this piece of unsolicited advice: thank your local businesses and farms.

I love online shopping and major retailers. Sometimes you just need a pallet of paper towels. That said, it pays great dividends to a community to buy local. When asked to support local academics or athletics they donate everything from hot dog buns to heavy equipment. They sponsor arts, athletics and more. They serve on church, school and political boards. They hire our children and work around academic, athletic, and arts schedules. They make a difference.

Providing opportunities

I am very proud of the many people and places who provide employment opportunities for young people. Willingness to take on teens and reach them valuable life skills, people skills, and professional skills are a HUGE need and part of life beyond the classroom.

Our family gives special thanks to the many local and regional entities that take on the task of being those training grounds for our hard workers. If we want to secure a future of hardworking citizens with a strong work ethic.

We thank them with our dollars and our support and for the future of our nation. Please consider doing so, too. For our children, learning good work habits will pay far more than cash for years to come.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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