Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tales of Teen Employees

Last week, I took my youngest son out to breakfast. Sure, I was hungry, but the main reason was I wanted to check out the thirteen-year-old dishwasher and busser--my daughter Leslie.

I tried to be sly as I watched her interact with the cook and waitress. (She works ten hours a week in a small cafe with an open kitchen, run by a Christian lady.) Leslie scrubbed harder on those pots and pans than I've ever seen her at home.

Then again, Mom doesn't pay $6 an hour plus a share of the tips.

I've also increased my visits to Target by 223%. In fact, I felt slightly bad as I bypassed an open checker, making my way to the tall and handsome sixteen-year-old on aisle 7.

Cory, my oldest son, also started work this week. With their flexible homeschooling schedule they both decided to get a jump on the rush to finding summer employment.

Leslie's saving her money to buy her first car (and that topic deserves a blog of its own). Cory's saving up for a YoungLife camp in June. And their Mom is storing up smiles, realizing that I did something right, and they're entering the busines-world with a good work ethic, confidence, and people skills.

With my two oldest kids both starting jobs this last week, it has me think about the difference in which Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millenials work.

Amazingly, I discovered an article As new generation grows, employers seek its groove that discusses this very issue.

There is a lot of good information in this article, and here is a basic summary of the differences we see in generations:

The post-World War II generation came into the workplace believing the path to success lay in hard work and long-term employment with the same company.

Generation X grew up during changing times, and many of its members saw their parents work hard, divorce and lose jobs to downsizing, Wendover said. As a consequence, they have less loyalty to the corporate world, are more likely to switch jobs and are less receptive to working long hours.

"They say, 'That is not going to happen to me,"' Wendover said. "They say, 'I can get this work done in a shorter amount of time and spend more time with my friends and family."'

The Millennials have a similar attitude about work. But they have grown up in a society that places a greater emphasis on children than any before it. And more of them are coming of age without the hard times, and hands-on experience, that helped build resourcefulness in earlier generations, Wendover said.


I can see this resourcefulness in my kids, but I'm also aware of my own weaknesses as a parent. (Writing Generation NeXt Parenting has helped me discover quite a few these.) My biggest struggle is trusting that I've done my job well, and that my kids can take this step on their own.

In the same article, this was noted:

This generation's parents [Gen Xers] have earned the label "helicopter parents, because they hover," said Raines. "... Supervisors are telling me all the time that parents are calling and saying, 'Why didn't John get a raise this time?"'

So, I suppose that while visiting my kids at work is okay once in a while, it shouldn't be too common an occurance. I'm okay with that, though. For I know God is there, with them, even when I can't be. And that gives me peace . . . and maintains my proud smile.

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