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Finding Your Teen a Summer Job
Q: My 15-year-old daughter thinks she can do whatever she wants. She says that because her older brother doesn't have to tell us where he is, she doesn't either. She doesn't understand that he's 18, has his own car, goes to school, and has a job. She spends a lot of her time at home in her room on the phone.
I found my daughter a summer job and this made her very angry. Then I told her she'd be making almost $3000 this summer and she seemed interested. I then told her she would have to buy her own school clothes and supplies because I think she needs to take on some responsibility. The approach worked for my oldest son and for me. What do you think?
A: Don't insist that what worked for you when you were a teen will work for your 15-year-old daughter. Her secrecy in her room and her frequent phone conversations are normal for her age. She is attempting to establish some independence and separate from you. Contesting some of your rules is to be expected. Not telling you her whereabouts is unacceptable, however, but I do agree with her that your son should also tell you where he's going. His age doesn't excuse him from keeping you posted as to where he plans to be in the course of an evening. This information is something that all family members need to give one another, parents included.
I wish that you had not gotten your daughter a job without first asking her. In my opinion, however well-intentioned your efforts were, doing that without first discussing it with her showed her disrespect. Making $3000 in a summer for a 15-year-old is a lot of money. I disagree with your demand that she use some of this money to pay for her own school clothes and school supplies. Unless you are so financially strapped that you cannot afford to buy her these essentials, I think those purchases are a parent's responsibility. If she wants to help out the family in any regard with the money that she makes, let her be forthcoming about doing so.
I would strongly recommend that you change the focus from trying to control your daughter to trying to develop a relationship with her. Reading Parent/Teen Breakthrough: The Relationship Approach, by Kirshenbaum and Foster, will help you do that.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.