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Ready or Not #63: Summer Jobs

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

A long time ago, in a generation far, far away, children used to play. They used to play at, or imitate, adult’s behaviors and adult skills. Little girls played “house,” and they rocked their dolls, “cooked” dinners, and washed and ironed their doll clothes. Little boys had miniature tool sets, that were metal – not plastic. They could really build things like birdhouses, and doghouses, and soap box race cars, and, well, anything their little imaginations could come up with. The children learned to be resourceful and to improve their skills so that when they got older, they actually had the beginning of useful skills.

Now the toys we give them teach them to sit for very long periods of time, or to become fashion divas. How is that going to prepare them for anything? Even becoming really talented at playing computer games isn’t going to teach them how to create or implement their ideas. You need an education or useful skills to do that.

In a time, not too long ago, we started our children out at a very young age learning a

trade or profession and they would study their craft for years under the tutelage of a craftsman or mentor. The one advantage to this is that they didn’t graduate from high school or college still wondering what they were going to be when they grew up. The bad side of the “way-it-was” is that the child didn’t always get to choose what they wanted to do.

I now feel that the pendulum has swung too far to the opposite end because there is so much to choose from that many of our kids are choosing not to do anything. As parents we need to help them choose before they graduate to adulthood – with nothing.

Now that school is out and our youngsters are out looking for summer jobs, let’s look at what they can accomplish. The one thing that you need to realize is that it should not be about the money, but more importantly, about what skills they are learning and how having a particular job will help them achieve their career goals.

That is another thing, sit down and help them define possible career goals, before going to high school - or at least before graduating. Not the career that you want them to have, but rather the career that they are interested in.

If they want to learn how to take care of growing plants, or landscaping and sprinkler systems, then have them get a job at a city parks department. If they are interested in a legal profession, have them apply for a summer job, or volunteer, at a law office. If they want to go into the medical field, how about a paid/unpaid internship at a medical office or pharmacy? Do they have an interest in cars? Have them work with a mechanic or at an auto parts store. Interested in animals or farm work? There are always farmers looking for kids to haul hay or muck out animal stalls. Get a job at a tack and feed store, or they can volunteer at a zoo or a veterinarian office.

The point is – let them get a taste of what they think they might like to do – and then let them. There is more to life than working at a fast food establishment for a paycheck, unless of course they want to be a chef. What does this have to do with preparedness? Everything!

Preparedness isn’t just about storing food and water, even though that is important. Preparing our children with life skills and the ability to reason things out, make decisions, and work hard is vitally important. It is a waste of time, life, and money if our kids go out in the world without usable skills. I have always felt that everybody should have a technical skill and a profession. Don’t just let your child’s life just sort of happen. Instead, prepare them to make educated choices and decisions that help them get to where they want to be someday – when they’ve grown up.


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