Parents beam with pride when their teenagers begin their first real jobs. Whether teenagers work at the car wash, the corner store or the gourmet coffee shop, their newfound earning ability is cause for celebration for the entire clan. Teens who work outside the home learn responsibility, as well as practical and technical skills.
Sometimes, however, a teen's first employment experience also offers difficult real-life lessons. Punctuality is part of the career curriculum for countless teens. Getting to work on time can be challenging.
Teens generally maintain busy schedules, with school, sports, special interests and social events cluttering their calendars. Where does work fit in? How can parents help young adults learn to manage their time, so they can arrive at their jobs on time, every time?
NAGGING NEVER WORKS.
Ask any parent. Mothers and fathers alike must fight the overwhelming urge to coax and cajole teens to get to bed early, get up on time, get ready and get out the door to work. Occasional reminders may be helpful, but teens must learn to manage their own schedules.
As teens grow up, they are expected to accept increasing responsibilities for their own personal care and obligations. For most young people, this may include everything from gathering job-related supplies to laundering their employment uniforms to preparing their own lunches for workdays.
If parents nag teens constantly, what will happen? Moms and dads everywhere know that teenagers will tune us out. Wise parents save their thunder for teen issues that merit true confrontation. Daily nagging does not count.
POST A PLANNER.
Working teens eventually do learn to keep track of their work assignments. In the meantime, parents can post a schedule or weekly planner in a central spot of the home. Placing a calendar on the refrigerator or a bulletin board in the kitchen can help to remind the adolescent and the entire family of upcoming events, including the teen's job shifts.
Such a system also comes in handy, as family members may coordinate transportation for work and other purposes, such as use of the family car.
ADD ALARMING ASSISTANCE.
A simple alarm clock can be a lifesaver, helping a teen get to work on time. Even if an adolescent works afternoon or evening shifts, an alarm may be set to remind him or her to prepare to leave.
Many teens carry cellular phones or other electronic devices with them at all times, and most of these do offer alarm clock features. A buzzing, beeping or chiming tone may be just the reminder a teen needs, to switch off the television, hang up the phone or sign off the computer.
HELP; DON'T HINDER.
Of course, parents and other family members must make a few personal sacrifices occasionally, to accommodate a working teen's schedule. Mutual cooperation is essential.
For example, if a teen must leave for work within a few minutes, the rest of the family might hold off on use of the bathroom. Or they might wait a bit before using the kitchen, if the young person is whipping up a quick workplace lunch to pack.
If a parent is providing transportation for the teen, then it pays to be ready to leave on time. Parents can encourage timeliness in their teens, if Mom and Dad are able to demonstrate it themselves.
In the end, the final responsibility for a teen's punctuality rests with that teen. If parents rush around daily to race late teens to work, barely beating the time-clock, we are doing our young people no favors.
Teens must be encouraged to plan ahead, to prepare for work and to allow ample time each day, so that the entire household is not thrown into a panic right before the teen must depart for work. Parents who participate in an ongoing circus of late-rush are really practicing a form of enabling, or codependency. What parent wants to foster that?
Parents can coach teens constructively, letting young adults know that their jobs are their own responsibility. This ownership of employment builds confidence in teens, even as it informs young people that they hold the keys to their own futures. If teens are late for work, they jeopardize their own potential earnings and careers, not their parents'. Parental reputations are not at stake, but the teen's own is.
For the most part, parents do not have to enforce teens' punctuality for work with punishments in the home. We need only affirm a teen's employer's standards.
Teens who repeatedly arrive late for work will face negative consequences directly from their employers. Job security, pay raises and career advancement may deteriorate.
Whether an adolescent deems it fair or not, employers do base their employee evaluations largely on dependability and punctuality. Teens who show up on time and work hard will move up, and they will also likely enjoy the preferred work hours.
If teens are paying attention at work, they will soon pick up on a universal truth of employment: Punctuality pays, especially on the job.