By KATE HUNTER
When I was in Year 10, I got my first job. I was a checkout operator at a convenience store. I worked Saturday mornings, and one night a week, about 10 hours in total.
Most of my friends had similar jobs, at department stores, fast food outlets. The more glamorous girls got themselves jobs at popular fashion stores. The money wasn’t any better than ours, but they got a 10% discount on their clothes and accessories.
Those girls without actual jobs also worked – babysitting was generally easy to come by. The pay wasn’t great, but if you picked the right family it was easy money. Perfect for studious no-out-on-Friday nights girls such as myself.
My kids aren’t up to working for cash yet – just the odd badly washed car or dog, but I assume they’ll be on the hunt for a casual job once they turn 15.
It came as a surprise to learn that many parents now prefer their kids not to work, and use all their spare time for study and school-related activities. ‘The pressure is so much more intense now,’ one acquaintance said, ‘Study is my daughter’s job until she finishes year 12.’
‘Really?’ I said to my friend Lou, a teacher and mum of four teenage sons.
‘Really,’ she said.
I’ll point out here that Lou’s boys all had jobs while at school –at the local car wash, and giving flute lessons (18 year old Karl is musically gifted).
‘Some parents are very stressed about their kids’ academic performance,’ said Lou, ‘I get that. They don’t want their kids to miss out on a university place because they were working to save money. They say there’s plenty of time for work, but only a small window for study.’
‘So why are your boys working?’ I asked.
‘Because I think it’s good for them.’ Says Lou, ‘And I don’t want to buy their sunglasses.’
This kind of thing brings out the Libran in me. I can see both sides.
I understand kids need to do well and have fun – and that we need to minimise the pressure on them where we can.