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Be Ahead of the Curve Teens and Summer Jobs

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

By Quinton Ellis, M.S., LPC

Summer is fast approaching and everyone I know seems just thrilled about that. And even though our suspiciously artic winter was, I’ll admit, a tad uncomfortable, I do not share their enthusiasm. Summer is, in fact, the winter of my personal discontent. In this, I am not alone, as many of the parents of the untold millions(?) of teenagers here in Edmond struggle with all the free time their kids are already planning to utilize poorly. Without intervention, many young people will enter a state of hibernation- a state in which any form of productivity has been outlawed. (The voter has spoken!) Other, more energetic youths, will use the endless hours to engage in varying forms of criminality that will often rise in degree along with the temperature.

The preferred antidote for both of these species of young persons is the summer job. This is more easily said than done as both will recognize the threat to their preferred lifestyles that a job would represent. For the sloth/bear child, a job cruelly interferes with doing nothing at all. Worse still, it reduces the number of hours per week in which nothing at all can be accomplished. The mischief-minded child will similarly suspect that opportunities to make poor decisions will be much harder to luck upon once employed. I recently spoke with a 16 year old of this variant who outlined a plan for staying out of trouble, the sole component of which was to get a full-time summer job. Without employment, she estimated that the odds of her getting arrested again by the end of the summer at 75%. Working full-time, however, that number dropped to 35%. (Yes, reader, this conversation happened.)

As parents, you should be on the lookout for several tactics these young people will likely employ to delay or sabotage their own employment. First, they will only begin their jobs search after school lets out citing concerns for their education which I’m sure their report card will call into question. Second, because they do not really want a job in the first place they will feel thoroughly justified in furnishing a very short list of places that they are “willing” to work. This, in it-self, is a delay tactic (even if they may not be aware of it) because all the “cool” jobs are already taken. After predictably failing to secure employment at Hot Topic, GameStop or wherever else they wanted a discount, they will (inexplicably) indulge in feeling wronged by no less than the entire world. They will also use these rejections as incontrovertible evidence that they “are trying” but, alas, “nobody’s hiring.”

By the time these teens finally get around to applying for jobs they have an actual chance of getting much of the “low-hanging employment fruit” will have been snapped up by far more realistic and motivated peers. This knowledge may well light a fire under the youngster and as a parent, you may watch with satisfaction as your child increases their number of applications from an already taxing 1 to 2 a week, to a blistering 3 to 4. At this point, these young adults will be experiencing dismay that they are not being paid per application nor pinned with medals for their heroism and effort. Indeed, the amount of effort they will have exerted to avoid a job would’ve earned them a decent sum of money had they only been performing one all along.

Please support Edmond Family Counseling with a tax-deductible donation and PLEASE have your teen download the BeEdmond app for smart phones. www.edmondfamilycounseling.org

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