Summer Work for Teens

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We live in a wonderful, idyllic, Shoreline, Connecticut community.   I used to feel a bit guilty about disrupting care free summers by pointing out the reams of statistical data indicating that the correlation between student achievement and summer fun is extraordinarily high.  See Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers for an extensive discussion. Now, in the interest of my clients and Connecticut neighbors, I urge parents to ensure that their teen children spend their summers productively.

I’m a hard-wired optimist.  But several years ago, I started Career Counseling Connecticut.  Winter is coming (for you Game of Thrones fans).  I’m sorry to add any parental stress but the number of students who (1) flounder in college (2) struggle significantly in the early part of their careers and (3) fail to launch entirely has skyrocketed since The Great Recession.

Parents of teens grew up in amazing economic times.  The last part of the 20th century (80s through the 90s) created a delusional mindset.  “Don’t push your kids.”  “Don’t worry. They’ll go to a good college and get a good job.” “Summers should just be for fun.”  I’m a product of this era and guilty of saying or thinking each of the above in the early part of my educational consultant career in the early 2000s.

Then, I started seeing the results of such attitudes.  I wrote Motivate Your Son because I saw so many teen boys floundering.  I wrote Career Path of Abundance because I saw how many people struggled with career issues.   The common thread was lack of work ethic.  Taking 2 and 1/2 months off sends the wrong message.  That’s not real life for adults.  It is not ideal for teens to be cultured with the thought that summer is only for fun.  Lots of fun – yes.  But some work should be part of their summer plan.