Money-Smart Kids / Summer job season
I've been getting a common question and there's no better time to answer it: How do I feel about kids having summer jobs?
For my regular readers, you probably guessed: I'm in favor of kids, at any age, doing something outside of the home to earn some money. Let's discuss why I emphasize working outside the home.
It's a similar analogy to why some parents choose not to coach their own children in sports. Please don't take this the wrong way, because I certainly appreciate these selfless parents who donate their valuable time.
The challenge of trying to coach your own child stems from when he/she isn't receptive to taking direction from you personally. If a friend's parents gives your child a helpful hint on the soccer field, your kid may be all ears. But if you, the parent, tries to assist in giving your child a useful piece of advice, it's as if you are moving your mouth but nothing is coming out. I know I'm not alone with this experience. I've found, at least in my own family's case, that my children are more receptive to the "coaching" coming from someone other than my wife and me. Frustrating, but true!
How does this tie into summer work for children? Encouraging your child to earn some extra money, with someone other than you as the boss, let's your child perform these tasks in an environment that isn't as casual as the one at home. Having to answer to a "boss" rather than mom or dad, seems to inspire a different level of effort being put into the job. If the job is not done right, your child will take it a bit more seriously when the "boss" is looking for a little more. Or, if something needs to be done a little differently, children are more apt to oblige.
For example, let's say the job was mowing the lawn. If your child was working for you and he/she claimed to finish the lawn -- which now resembles a zebra because of some sloppy turns with the mower -- and you wanted your child to go back and remow the missed parts, he/she might get annoyed and say you were being unreasonable. Now let's change the scenario and say that your child was mowing the lawn of the neighbor who lives down the street. Your son or daughter probably wouldn't have been so careless in the first place but, if he/she had, it would be totally understandable to your child that the homeowner wants to have the whole lawn mowed again, properly.
As we approach the months when kids might want a little extra cash in their pockets, now is the time to encourage them to be entrepreneurial and earn that cash from an employer other than Mom/Dad Inc.
Tom Henske, a Westport resident and partner with Lenox Advisors, a wealth management firm with offices in New York City and Stamford, developed the Lenox Money-Smart Kids Program in conjunction with MassMutal Financial Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org