When I think back over my childhood into becoming a young adult, I think the biggest lesson I learned was to work hard. My parents didn't necessarily preach this all the time, but they were always working hard and we had a family ice cream shop, so we all had to work hard too. I was only a 1st grader when I would wipe tables in the shop, fill spoon and napkin containers, wash buckets. My "pay" was an ice cream cone at the end of my time there. But I didn't do it for that. It was just understood, expected, and necessary. All of my older siblings were there scooping, and me and my little sister would help out however we could. I *couldn't wait* until I could serve customers, which I was allowed at the age of twelve, and my pay turned from ice cream into cold hard cash. I loved making my own money, and when I eventually managed the store at 16, would schedule myself in to work six days a week. Working hard at the shop translated into working hard at school, and in our future careers, and it is really the one thing I wish my kids could experience.
But, since we don't have a family business, we are doing the next best thing, and making sure our kids understand the value of a dollar, learn how to talk to people, and equate hard work with success in life. How do we do this? We let them get jobs as soon as possible.
No! Not that young! :)
Let them be Little, for sure...
but then also, Let them be Big.
Our boys started working the boards and book at our basketball league when they were 13 (they get paid very little but it's in the form of cash and food!) and it's a fun job that gives them a little spending money while letting them watch their friends play basketball.
In Massachusetts, you can get a work permit at age 14, but most companies don't hire kids until age 16. One of the families from our church, who owns a great ice cream shop, hired JP at age 14 to wash buckets. It was so nice of her, and he did a good job which made his momma proud. Since that was only a summer job, he wanted to find something that was year-round and we did find a great company that believes in giving kids jobs at young ages. The CEO of Market Basket says:
"It’s one of the greatest pleasures of what we do, hiring people and getting to work with people of all ages and particularly we hire 14 and 15-year-olds... It’s such a pleasure to get them into the work place and serving the public, good work discipline and get them started at a young age.”
I love the way he thinks! John-Paul (15) and Andrew (14) are both happy employees of Market Basket now, bagging groceries and pushing carts until they can train to be cashiers at age 16. Minimum wage is $12.00/hour here and they get paid time and a half on Sundays. JP works 8 hours each weekend and Andrew works a 4 hour shift, so they don't get much time, but they get loads of experience, and they start padding their savings account for future expenses. Phil and I strongly believe everybody benefits from having a customer service job in their life, and we want our kids to be able to experience that training. Plus, we can't afford to pay for college/car insurance/gas and we also don't want them living at home until they're 30 ;) So far, so good.
We love our handsome, hardworking boys!