There was an article on the front page of the Chicago Tribune yesterday called Teens and Tweens, the New Normal. It is about the decline of teenagers in the workforce. There are 33% of teenagers in the workforce as compared to 60% thirty years ago. If you asked the Baby Boomer generation, I am sure they would suggest it is because of lazy kids, lazy parents, too many video games, etc.

It turns out, it is the parents’ fault. My generation, that crazy Gen X generation, wants our kids to spend their time on academics, extra curricular activities and volunteering. Why is that bad? The article profiles a few students and their schedules of activities. It is about both kids who have a job and those who do not.

My parents own a business so I have worked for a long, long time. However, I got a job at 14 busing tables at a pizza place. I lied and told them I was 15 and I have held a job ever since. The longest I have been out of work was for two weeks while on maternity leave. My husband had a job in high school, too. However, as an emancipated minor, he had to do it so he could eat and have a roof over his head.

Although I do believe that having a job as a teenager teaches you about the “real world”, I don’t think that punching a clock works for every teenager. Our daughters, ages 10 and 12, have pretty full schedules with school and activities. Volunteering is also a part of their lives, although limited by their age. In addition, they babysit, petsit, and sell used books on Amazon. They will start selling on Ebay this summer, too. When they are older, I am sure they will add lawn mowing to their list. Being an entrepreneur myself, I want to instill that in my kids. They are learning the value of earning your own money, but they are also discovering that you can do it on your own time. Hard work is more appreciated when you are directly affected by the results.

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