Should teens be expected to work part-time jobs while in high school?

My kids are still a little young and we haven't crossed that bridge but the subject came up recently when my husband and I started talking about the first jobs we ever had.

It's funny how you can look back at things in your life like your old high school jobs and wonder how much those early job experiences helped.

When you throw the teens and part-time jobs question out there, my immediate response seems like a no-brainer... Of course teens should work to get some real-life experience.

But, the more I talked to my husband and the more I looked back to my own experiences, I saw just as many pitfalls and lost opportunities as benefits.

There were some real differences between us when it came to how we were raised and it made me wonder how we would approach the issue with our kids.
My work situation as a teen was relatively sheltered.

I was a waitress at Big Boy from age 15 to age 17.

Sure, it wasn't the most glamorous job in the world but it was exposure to customer service and learning how the restaurant business worked.

My Big Boy job was also on the low end of part-time - only 12-15 hours a week.

My cheerleading schedule and academics took care of my time Monday through Friday.

I grew up in a very traditional, almost stereotypical Italian family.

We were very family-oriented.

My 12-15 hour work weeks didn't net me a lot of money.

I was very fortunate that my parents chipped in to help with money if I ever needed something for school or wanted to go to the movies.

They knew my after school activities (cheerleading and school clubs) were important and chewed up a lot of time.

My parents didn't give me very much in terms of money, but they definitely helped.

I rarely asked for extra money to go somewhere but when I did, they usually obliged.

Long story short - I didn't have a lot of money but I never went without.

My husband's situation was different.

He started a paper route when he was 14 to buy his own guitar.

My husband was on the hook for most of his teen expenses (gas, entertainment, trips, guitar lessons etc.)

If he wanted something, he had to buy it.

His paper route job led to a dishwashing job at a Chinese restaurant and then a busboy/cook position at Pizza Hut for the rest of high school.

While my husband’s teen jobs taught responsibility, they weren't necessarily in fields that taught a lot.

His teen jobs also required him to work a lot of week nights and weekends.