Teens Can Do More than We Think


As we ease our way into 2016, let’s consider it kfszbkhsar
The Year of the Can-Do Kid
, reminding ourselves that children are capable of much more than society assumes.

It’s not a bad impulse that makes us want to help our kids. No one wants to see kids hurt or harmed. But our societal obsession with young people’s fragility and the permanence of trauma leaps to the disheartening belief that ANY hurt or harm is damaging, forever. So we think that somehow THIS generation of kids is maybe smarter when it comes to tech, but otherwise slower, weaker, less resilient, and more in need of help and supervision than any generation that came before. (Recall United Airlines just declaring that 15-year-olds need chaperons to get to the gate.)

This belief is reinforced by schools that send home notes for every scrape at recess, passersby who assume every child sitting in a car is about to expire from heat or cold (or both!), and social norms that assume a mile is too far for a child to walk to school. Meantime, magazines warn about dangers as miniscule as bug bites, and unlikely as laundry hamper injuries, even as laws assume a latchkey child cannot possibly make it through the afternoon without an adult at hand.

To remind us of what kids ARE capable of comes this piece by Devin Foley at Intellectual Takeout:

Teenagers: They can achieve so much more

…One of the things that troubles me about the current education system is how it suppresses so much human potential… I was reminded of this bias in educators recently when flipping through Time-Life’s The Home Front: U.S.A., which is a part of 39-volume set about World War II. Many Americans would be familiar with the role of “Rosie the Riveter” who became the symbol of women going to work in the factories while military-age men went off to fight the Japanese, Italians, and Germans.

…What’s left out of the high school curriculum, though, is the role of teenagers in the factories and shipyards. One wonders what conversations would take place if more time was spent on that aspect of history.

Here’s what The Home Front had to share about the role of American teenagers in World War II:

“With the War’s growing appetite for able-bodied men consuming America’s labor supply in the early 1940s, teenage boys and girls were among those who filled in as replacements. At the same time, many states had to relax their child-labor laws to allow minors to work. By 1943, there were almost three million American boys and girls on the job in American fields and factories, half a million of them in defense plants where they were paid at the standard rate.

These striplings were not just poor substitutes for strong men; they pulled their share of the load, despite their lack of seasoning. One defense contractor, Lockheed Aircraft hired 1,500 boys in 1943 as riveters, draftsmen, electricians, and sheet-metal workers. Their delighted supervisors discovered that two young people working a four-hour shift accomplished more than an adult employee who was doing a regular eight-hour stint….

Read the rest here. Then flip through Robert Epstein’s book Teen 2.0, where he suggests that child labor laws passed to “save” kids from working, actually saved adult jobs from being filled by hard-working teens. He goes on to say that when we don’t give young men and women a chance to prove their mettle as competent members of society, they have to prove their adulthood by less wholesome means, like….well, fill in the blank.

This year: Let kids rise to their potential by believing in them, not the “they can’t handle anything” riff. – L


Teens are not tots.

Teens are not tots.





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30 Responses to Teens Can Do More than We Think

  1. Glen January 6, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    I’ve treated my kids as pre-adults beginning at 15. The state has prevented my kids from working more than 15 hours, which makes it harder for them to pay for college. My expectation for them is greater than what society expects from them.

  2. c smith January 6, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    In North Carolina teens can work at 14 for pay with a work permit. My daughter spent her summer at 14 volunteering at the aquarium working the touch tank every weekend. She also organized and ran an integrated dance festival by herself that summer. She started helping teach dance classes at 13. Wish all states were like this for teens.

  3. Ron Skurat January 6, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    In the late ’30s, my Uncle repaired cars in his backyard to bring in extra money, at the ripe old age of 15. In the late ’40s my Dad (14yo) delivered groceries on his bike within a four mile radius of home.

    I really can’t fathom where this infantilization of teens comes from. Even as an adult I’ve gotten incredulous stares when I tell people I willingly walked three miles to get somewhere, or biked 8 miles for a tutoring gig.

    I’ve heard the usual ‘homo economicus’ arguments that teens represent competition for low-wage jobs, etc, etc; but the people who claim that teens are incompetent or too fragile are not in low-wage jobs themselves. I wonder if it’s more of an assertion of status – i.e. ‘I’m so successful that my kids don’t have to work’ – akin to Veblen’s assertion that the middle-class restriction of women to the home in the 19th century was more about men’s relative status than it was about women’s abilities or ‘nature.’

    Also, many people in their middle years whose careers have stalled are loathe to admit how easy their clerical jobs are, and insisting that a smart 17-year-old couldn’t possibly learn Excel is another way of maintaining their self-regard and asserting that typing numbers into a speadsheet designed by Accounting is a high-status job.

    I’ve been tutoring for a while now and I’ve found that a smart, motivated teenager is just as able to do quality & quantity work as someone in their mid 20s. They might not have quite the depth of knowledge & experience but for well-defined tasks they’re faster than I am.

  4. Anne January 6, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

    My preteen daughter has gained more from her robotics club than she ever could from school — not only programming but also problem solving, innovation, and the confidence to go way out of her comfort zone and present her ideas and skills to judges. They are required each year to invent a solution to a real-world problem, as well as programming a robot to perform tasks. I am hoping that this summer she will at least be able to find families who will allow her to babysit, at the same age I was babysitting not so long ago.

    But, she has to deal with strangers who think she can’t do anything. She purchased Christmas presents for family members by herself, used the self-check, and waited outside the store for me to finish shopping. A “do-gooder” repeatedly asked if she had “lost” her mom and if she was cold. Refusing to be reassured by her responses, the do-gooder insisted on following her back into the store until she found me. She was furious because she was not allowed to be competent but resisted the urge to tell the stranger to stuff it.

  5. lollipoplover January 6, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    More and more, I see ages creeping up for when teens can be expected to be alone. See any job postings on Care.com for babysitters and many parents are looking for them- for their teens. I know many teens who will not and cannot be alone. Anxiety and depression in teens is now 1 in 8 (it has doubled over the past few decades).

    I went out for drinks the other night with several mothers whom I only just met through a friend. One mom was on her cell the entire time, having a heated discussion with her sitter. These moms all drove together to have a designated driver and this mom had to leave because her daughter was acting up for the sitter (again). She had locked herself in a closet and insisted the mom come home immediately. The children were 13 and 11. So she had to be driven home! I drank my overpriced girly martini and laughed as my 12 year-old had just babysat the night before for the 3 kids up the street. She made $80 and did crafts with cute little girls.

  6. beanie January 6, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Along the lines of the maturity/capability/independence of teenagers discussion. . . I’d love to hear what others think about pre-teens and younger teenagers on their own, with friends, in the after-school hours. I’ve heard that those hours without parents at home can be prime time for kids to try alcohol and sex. In elementary school, we don’t have those issues. . . but as they go into middle school, their influences will change. What do you do to keep your kids free-range and independent but still provide adequate supervision as they grow up?

  7. Lisa January 6, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    To answer beanie, everyone knows their own kid best, but personally I trusted mine home alone long before I trusted her home alone with friends. In my mind, she was quite capable of taking care of herself by 8 or 9, but I was pretty sure that two of them would find a way to get into trouble (or at least create a mess that I didn’t want to come home to). Now that she’s 13, my life circumstances have changed dramatically, so she is home alone much less often (I don’t work outside of the home anymore, and I enjoy being around after school). I do occasionally let her and a well-known friend stay here for short periods of time, and they basically talk, listen to music, or call other friends. I would not allow a boy in the house without an adult here, nor would I allow her at a boy’s house unsupervised. And in general, our rule is that there are no devices capable of taking pictures allowed in the bedroom or bathroom, unless there is a good reason and the door is open.

    The rule in my house when I was a kid was that we could not have friends over unless my mother was home, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’m not as strict about it, but it still feels like a reasonable rule of thumb.

  8. Warren January 6, 2016 at 3:20 pm #


    Like with anything else in life. You give them the knowledge, the tools and have faith they will make the right choices. There is really nothing more to do.

  9. andy January 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    @beanie I can confirm that we have been drinking occasionally in those hours at around that age. You need to decide whether the risk related to occasional beer is worth panic. It is definitely good idea to have discussion with them about alcohol, dugs and sex which would include both legal risks and health ones.

    One day you will have to give them freedom and afternoon hours while teens is much better safer option then weird nightclub when they are finally 18.

    And if it seems like your kid is that one that would be loosing it up to real trouble (looking at kids friends might be good start), then you might want to be the parent that gives kids less freedom despite what others think. Because you know your kid is higher risk one.

  10. andy January 6, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    “child labor laws passed to “save” kids from working, actually saved adult jobs from being filled by hard-working teens.”

    I would point out that those kids will grow up to be uneducated adults with pretty much no possible career and high unemployment rates.

    These are also about to be fired first whenever there is problem and about to be replaced by new generation of cheaper kids before they are old enough to retire. Especially in modern economy where simple manual jobs are outsourced.

    Otherwise said, these are people the most likely to need state support and unemployment checks no matter how well intentioned or hard working they were as 14 when they left school for job.

    “He goes on to say that when we don’t give young men and women a chance to prove their mettle as competent members of society, they have to prove their adulthood by less wholesome means, like….well, fill in the blank.”

    There is that one statistic about current youth being less violent and criminal then previous generations. Especially among middle class teens who are the most infantilized. The idea that they are about to commit unspoken horror acts is simply ridiculous.

    Yes, kids in lower classes used to work. Those lower classes had tons of social problems, including high criminality, alcoholism (including young) etc. No the difference is not just in work, maybe not even primary, but the idea that them not working now is causing some fill in the blank problems is ridiculous.

  11. Cassie January 6, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

    I am a huge fan of Robert Epstein, he says some very sensible stuff about adolescents.

    As a high school teacher it heavily influenced my approach to the way we treat students – which in my view is that they are adults (full-blown adults) from the end of puberty- albeit young and experienced ones.

    I don’t like the term “young adult” because we have stopped hearing the word ‘adult’ when we use it and we just hear ‘teenager’ instead. If the 14yo in my classroom is an adult, then I have to expect that he/she will have many of the same reactions as any other adult…. including a desire not to be subjected to stupid rules (which high schools are full of).

    I often wonder how I would handle being subjected to all the rules that a 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 yo is subjected to… and it becomes obvious that rebellion is something we have created by enforcing rules rather than teaching people how to behave (by demonstration first and foremost!!).

  12. lollipoplover January 6, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

    @beanie- Trusting our kids is often about expectations and consequences. I agree with Lisa, that I trust them home alone or with siblings much more than I trust them with their friends home *alone*. At tween and early teen ages (and this is my parenting opinion), kids can be trusted alone and with some friends but not all friends. You know best who these friends are and the reason they should not be trusted.

    I also think at these ages many kids can get involved in school activities or after school clubs with other kids their age. My kids do school sports and clubs and most of their afternoons at practices, rehearsals, or volunteering. They like being around kids their age but also hanging with friends at home. Some of their friends I trust as my own kids as they know our *house rules* and are they respect them. Then there are *those* kids- the ones that throw trash behind your sofa and talk disrespectfully to siblings and adults. I will never tell my kids who they can be friends with, but I also won’t tolerate bad behavior, especially in my own home. So we have rules and friends we allow to be over when I am not home This summer, I had to do 2 days a week in the office and they were home *alone* and did quite well. It’s all about incremental responsibility, baby steps, take it slow and adjust as necessary.

  13. Havva January 6, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

    The most crucial things my parents did to keep me from going off course as a teen:
    1) They educated me honestly.
    2) They gave me trust with absolute confidence.
    3) I knew they would take it all away if I violated their trust.
    4) They gave me access to the adult world.
    5) They performed spot checks, without implying distrust.

    Some notes on 3) & 5), When I was pretty young I found out that begging for extra time at a friend’s house or worse forgetting… or “forgetting” the time and not coming home at the agreed to time meant that the next many times I asked would result in a ‘no’ answer. Part of the excuse for them needing to know exactly where I would be at all times was that sometimes things come up and they need to be able to find me. And every so often things did “come up” or they “found time for” and event they weren’t scheduled to be at. So they popped up all the time. Usually needing to run an errand and wanting me to come along because we would be meting dad in town or something. Finally as mom I noted to my mom that she turned up a lot and asked if she was performing spot checks on me. And she confessed that yes she had been, but also that she didn’t feel much need for them as I was always exactly where I said I would be, doing exactly what I said I would do, in the company of exactly the people I said I would be with.

  14. Vaughan Evans January 6, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

    In 1978-1979 I launched the ‘Battle of ‘Run, Sheep, Run!

    In 2016- I wil launch ‘The Battle ofed Rover.

    I will exclaim that the children who grew up in the 1970’s knew that it is NOOT a rough game, and any injuries are quite incidental.

    Why don’t children play it on their own.
    because parents are paranoid.
    Why don’t schools, and camps allow that game.
    If a child gets a tiny bruise, what would a parent do?
    SUE. of course.
    One old lady is fed up with people who sue. She said that such people are a bunch of selfish greedy WIMPS and BULLIES-who are just looking for a quick way to get a vast sum of money for nothing.
    She added,’My father never gave me money until I jolly well earned it.
    My mother said,.You appreciate something more-if you work for what you want-instead of everything just given to you-on a silver platter.

  15. Brooks January 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    I give my kids a lot of freedom. We teach them to be independent, self-reliant and self-motivated (this is the hard part). We show trust and trust that we have done a good enough job with them than they will not make too many stupid mistakes. But they’ll happen and we’ll deal with them. My goal is to give them the tools not to make any mistakes that are permanent or fatal. Beyond that, they need to learn to make their own way, with our guidance.

    We’ve allowed our kids time alone pretty much since age 10 and fortunately, most of our peers did pretty much the same thing.

    Work motivation is currently a big challenge for us. Society almost demands that our kids do nothing, and my 14 year old knows no-one who has a job. But he’s learning now, as he’ having to fork over 50% for all the various camps and events he wants to participate in. Suddenly his motivation went up 100% !!

    On a related note, there is an Episcopal Church camp in Alabama (Camp McDowell) that has a very wonderful program for disabled (some severely) kids in the area, and each one is paired for the whole week with a single teen companion who helps them with their needs throughout the week. The companions do everything – helping with bathing if necessary, toileting, whatever is required. Much is expected of the teens and they learn so much and grow so much during that single week. Now that’s giving kids the benefit of the doubt.

  16. Vaughan Evans January 6, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

    I am 66 years old.
    One big mistake the parents made, was saying children should be seen and not heard.
    This was society’s undoing.
    Vancouver, Canada received a lot of immigrants from foreign counties-many of whom do not speak as a first language-or even use our alphabet. It was a time, when knowledge was doubling-and we were becoming a more urbanized nation.
    Also Vancouver received many newcomers from other provinces.
    If I were a parent, I would give a child a guideline-when to suggest something-or to volunteer information.
    As an example. A child might tell a restaurant staff member that the washroom has run out of toilet paper, soap, or paper towels.

  17. James Pollock January 6, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

    “he suggests that child labor laws passed to “save” kids from working, actually saved adult jobs from being filled by hard-working teens.”

    No need to “suggest” this, it was one of the intended results. Taking children out of the workforce leaves more jobs for adults. Jobs for adults were desperately needed.

    Note that one of the exemptions for child-labor laws, is agricultural work. In my youth, the junior-high school ended its school year when the berry crop was ready for harvest. (No, I didn’t work in the fields, though most of my friends did. There were these new-fangled things, called microcomputers, that were cheap enough that anyone could get one, and that work paid better AND was done indoors, where there was no sunburn.)

  18. James Pollock January 6, 2016 at 9:20 pm #

    “My preteen daughter has gained more from her robotics club than she ever could from school”

    If she’s a preteen, that means almost certainly FLL… FIrST Lego League. Wait ’til it’s time to move up from FLL to FTC, and then FRC. At the FRC level, the kids are fabricating parts in the metal shop… unless they’re designing them with CAD programs and 3D printing them.

    One of the FLL Core Values is “Kids Do the Work”. Also “We Have Fun”.

    The hard part is finding a place to do it once competition season ends. Just because you can’t win a trophy any more is no reason why you can’t keep working on figuring out how to deliver all the parts to the sorter, or figure out how to (reliably) get the chicken into the tiny circle.

  19. James Pollock January 6, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

    “See any job postings on Care.com for babysitters and many parents are looking for them- for their teens.”

    Perhaps these are for teens who have demonstrated that they should not be left alone.
    One of the challenges of raising children is finding a punishment that works. Having to have a babysitter when you’re a teenager sounds like a pretty good one, if rather expensive. It’s kind of late in the game, but if your child is a teenager, and cannot be left alone, you don’t have a lot of time left to take corrective measures.

  20. beanie January 6, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

    Thanks for the discussion and experiences about pre-teens/teens! I have been wanting to ask that question for a while and appreciate everyone’s perspective and advice.

  21. sexhysteria January 7, 2016 at 4:05 am #

    Teenagers have been treated as adults in most cultures of the world throughout history and probably pre-history as well..

  22. Crystal Kupper January 7, 2016 at 8:53 am #

    I got my first full-time, 40-hours-a-week job at age 12. By 14, I was working 2 part-time jobs in addition to playing sports year-round, earning a 4.0 GPA and playing piano at a high level. By 18, I was engaged and had saved up enough to pay for all of my college — no loans required — and graduated early. My husband and I were both 19 when we married. And I’m only 30, certainly not of my grandparents’ generation when that was normal.

    People ask me how I manage to pull everything off (I’m currently in grad school, homeschooling my kids, adopting a high-needs 4th child with 5 disabilities, running 25-30 miles a week and working part-time) while staying sane. I tell them it was because I’ve had plenty of practice from a young age!

  23. lollipoplover January 7, 2016 at 9:33 am #

    @beanie- I sometimes waiver with giving my children independence. My 12 yo daughter joined the ski club this year. She is a great athlete, but definitely our risk taker and somewhat “wild” when it comes to sports. I’ve never let her ski without either my husband or myself with her. So yesterday was her first trip without us, granted she was under the supervision of a few brave teachers, but she was paired with a partner (a 13 yo boy, as there’s a 5-1 ratio of boys to girls in the club). I can type all day that I give my kids incremental freedom and trust them, but last night I was a nervous wreck.

    My husband offered me a glass of wine and I refused. I had myself worked up to think the worst, that I shouldn’t have a drink because I may have to be driving up the mountains to visit the hospital after she skis off a cliff. She had all of her gear to keep her warm and asked to wear her brother’s gopro to record some of her runs. We said no. What if she shows off and breaks her leg/arm/body/head? I finally relaxed (and had that wine) but sent her a few reminder texts to go slow and take her time and not to leave her partner (she is know to be impatient).

    Shockingly, she did just fine and only fell once. She sent me this video back, with the message “If only I had a gopro”:


  24. Andy January 7, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    Am I only one who found summer jobs to require less effort and responsibility then high school? Summer jobs I had were mostly about showing up at roughly right time, turning off the brain and doing what you are told – usually the same or similar thing every day. I liked them and had good relationship with colleagues and bosses pretty much every time, it was pleasant overall. However, I do not think they made me more responsible nor anything like that.

    The most important thing I learned was that 8 hours of even manual work still makes one tired and the idea that I will be able to seriously learn in the evening what I wanted to learn for myself was naive. Whether it was mostly manual or people oriented, my evening focus and performance went down from what I was used to. Basically, even if you do something as simple as cleaning windows, you do not get downtime so you become tired even as it seemingly does not require brain. But, that is pretty much extend of what I learned (other then job related specifics or chats with colleagues).

    What it is like to make independent decisions gets exercised more during hikes and camping without parents. What it is like to have deadlines and responsibilities got exercised more in school. I mean, school was more strict about being there at time then summer jobs (except one case), school had longer term deadlines you had to manage by yourself and so on.

    I will encourage my kids to spend half of the summer on small jobs if it will be possible, but I do not expect that to be transforming experience that will turn them from irresponsible kids to responsible ones. Just sort of transition between parents pay all to I get own money and to get them loose naive ideas about what it is like to do real job every day (whether they imagine it to be worst then it actually is or better).

  25. JP Merzetti January 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

    One month after I turned 16, I left home. That was my little personal war of independence. Since that day, I have had no-one in any authority over me in private life. Bully for me.
    The real point is – although I had no idea at the time, by the age of 16 I already had been given – by parents, by society, and by an educational system….all the skills and abilities to push on and thrive on my own, with all that freedom. I did not run off the rails. Again, bully for me.

    My point is: almost all the way up and down the timeline of childhood (although I wouldn’t call anyone over the age of 10 – a child, exactly)……young people are often capable of far more than they’re given credit for.
    On the other side of the scale, if they are coddled, pampered, over-protected, and held down and back by lowered expectations….well, they tend to get used to the idea that they’re useless, and that somehow, somewhere on the other end of a Masters’ Degree – they suddenly become useful in some way.

    Before I turned 17, much to my surprise, I had earned three promotions in a major carrier’s freight claims office.
    All this required was grade 10 math, and a decent understanding of competent communication skills. I had fun for awhile, and then returned to school, mature enough to get it down properly.

    (ah…but laddie, it was a different time!)
    Yes, it certainly was. Supposedly the dark ages….

    So sad, to forget so easily what we never knew. History escapes us so profoundly.

    The only organization I have ever joined in my life (except for a songwriters’ royalty agency, and only in order to receive the royalties I earn) was the boy scouts, at age 11.
    There, I learned independently, and together with my compatriots – the joys of civil inclusion: to be a responsible and useful young citizen within the community, and to contribute my skills, abilities and efforts in a manner appropriate to the cause – helping others in divers’ ways.
    I don’t really recall anyone ever saying I was too young for anything. It was far more a matter of an adult community responding to my ambition to learn….many things not taught in school. Good things.
    Those expectations – helped my self confidence immensely. To rise to these demands and occasions was a challenge I can’t imagine missing in life.

    I have always been fascinated (reading Jeremy Seabrook, among others) how the children of the world – that other world…..that “thirded” world…….would, many if not most of them….gaze in wonderment at the chldren of our most modernized and privileged societies. Especially the ones who take on adult responsibilites at early ages. The many who, although not mired in the desperation of poverty, are still expected to don the cloak of familial responsibilites, including adding to the household income, childcare, and move seamlessly into the adult world they will one day inhabit. Although far fewer of them ever become “professional” students – it is not surprising to find how much they hunger for an education. Their hunger…..is a foreign concept, here.
    But what they know, and what they can do, fills a gap that their societies demand. There really is no choice in the matter.

    Is there a gap here, between what we expect of our youth, and what they are actually capable of? I have no doubt there is. Sadly, we now legislate this to death. And reap the profits, one way or another.

  26. hineata January 7, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

    @Crystal….congrats on your accomplishments, but sorry, they’re not just down to hard work or even practice at indepence. Some inborn talent is involved too. I know kids who work extremely hard just to achieve at an average level…..

    Not that you shouldn’t keep achieving at your level….

  27. Scooter January 7, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    I’ve always hated working with teenagers, even when I managed to convince a store to let me work for them when I was 16. Teenagers are lazy, useless, and arrogant! Those farmboys can work circles around everybody, but the majority of teenagers I’ve worked with I’ve ended up wanting to strangle. Hell, that became part of my sales pitch whenever I lost a job (I seem to have the uncanny ability to find a business that will close down within a few years due to financial trouble or death of the owner): “I promise I’m a very hard worker that always comes to work on time or early and never calls in pretending to be sick! Don’t think I’m like the other teenagers!” I always got good praises once I was able to get hired. Especially in comparison against the other teens they hired and even against some of the adults.

    My kid will likely get the same work incentive I did. No allowance, however, if you complete certain bonus chores, you get paid a little something. If he’s creative in some way or good at doing something I may encourage him to get paid doing it. It’s never too early to let kids learn about financial responsibility! =P

  28. BMS January 8, 2016 at 8:50 am #

    My kids have been staying home for several hours after school without us since 6th grade or so. The boys are now 14 and 15. Often when I come home, there are friends over, and I’m fine with that. Neither of them are interested in girls yet (I have raised gamer nerds), and their friends are more interested in eating everything that isn’t nailed down, experimenting with rocketry in the backyard, playing hockey, and trying to kill each other in Halo than anything untoward. I do idly check my liquor cabinet – all the bottles are still dusty as ever, LOL. My elder son has utter disdain for stoners, and has actually reported classmates to the principle for dealing drugs on the school bus. While I worry that some day he is going to get his behind kicked for being a narc, I also feel like I don’t have to worry about him or his friends at our house. I’m much more worried about them destroying the furniture with food and/or breaking something I value, and that can happen if I’m there or not.

    I would like my 15 year old to get a job, but both he and I have been frustrated by the lack of jobs available for 15 year olds in our area. Until we solve that, he and his friends can continue to hang out after school. I trust they’ll be fine.

  29. lollipoplover January 8, 2016 at 9:17 am #

    @BMS- Thank you so much for your comment about your boys. I often wonder if mine is normal when his friends are over and they take a picked over gingerbread house and blow it up with fireworks (they swept up the debris to hide the evidence). Mostly, I hear the basketball net and groups of boys playing and often never entering the house except to eat any food that isn’t nailed down (I’ve hidden my chocolate stash inside an emptied out box of frozen spinach).

    As for jobs, my oldest has always been very eager to make money and picked up various jobs (starting with a snack and ball stand on a golf course) and lately, his best gigs are pet sitting and yard work. Summer months are his busiest with vacations but he gets 1-2 jobs a week for exercise and feed visits and weekend getaways. Mostly he did it through word of mouth and he really likes animals and enjoys the work (easiest money, he says). He’s also been asked to stack wood, rake and bag leaves, and will shovel snow when we get that weather but he has no desire to get a store clerk job yet and prefers his independent gigs.

  30. Andre L. January 9, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

    I’m disappointed at this article. Teens should be learning, not employed in menial jobs. Learning doesn’t mean all is right with the education system. There is plenty of space for reforms, for more learning freedom for teens, including outside school.

    However, it is not in the interest of teens, in the long term, to forego intellectual pursuits (in or outside school) to flip burgers, staff cashier desks or do things alike.

    Child labor laws should also be strengthened to prevent most work under age 18.