A Guide for Parents of Working-Aged Children


With the season of summer jobs approaching, you may find yourself entering a new stage of life: parent of a working-aged child. This new world now has someone else (a hiring manager) telling you how you need to act regarding the person you know and they have just met. That has to be frustrating and, no matter how well intended, condescending.

By working with a team of individuals who spend an exorbitant amount of time hiring teenagers for seasonal positions, as well as some wonderful, informative parents who have clued us into the struggle of finding the balance between parenting and letting the child own the job, this seemingly needed resource is now the brainchild creation from blending the two.


At this point, let’s assume a company has been identified as where your child wants to work.  If it has not, talk to friends, coaches, teachers, guidance counselors, etc. Think of how an employer may attempt to attract the age demographic your child is. Often employers send information to schools, visit lunches, and post in school newspapers when they are searching for teenage employees. 

So…now what?


[toggle title_open=”Close Me” title_closed=”Read more including calling/emailing a potential employer and social media tips” hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”default” excerpt_length=”0″ read_more_text=”Read More” read_less_text=”Read Less” include_excerpt_html=”no”]Most companies’ websites have a job/career page detailing information, or at the very minimum, containing an application link. The truth is more questions may develop than the website has answers. At this point, resist the urge to call/email for your child. Just like when they were little and giving in to a tantrum seemed a viable solution, you endured the screaming of time-out because the lesson was important, this process would also be smoother if you did it yourself, but the end result is worth sticking it out.

Calling a Potential Employer

One of the most memorable phone calls I have received was from a first-time job seeker. In between some of the questions there would be a pause and faintly in the background a faded voice of a parent guided his questions. As an employer, I knew his parent was directing the conversation and probably forcing him to make the call but it was his voice on the phone and started the recognition that it is his job, not his mom’s.

As an employer, I knew his parent was directing the conversation and probably forcing him to make the call but it was his voice on the phone and started the recognition that it is his job.

Help your child come up with a list of questions before calling, even if some may be more appropriate for the actual interview and not the application. Think of things that may be necessary to take into account for your scheduling if you will be driving your child to work. Common questions we hear are: what are the steps after the interview, what to bring to and how to prepare for the interview, what are prior related experience necessities, cost of certifications, where will the interview take place, location of job site, how to schedule an interview, uniform requirements and seeking reassurance that it is permissible to be in after school activities and hold the job. After making a list of any questions, have your child pick up the phone and call…even if you need to be the voice during the pauses.

Emailing a Potential Employer

Due to sport and school responsibilities, a phone call is not always possible during operating business hours. Two choices exist: advise your child to call and leave a message or send an email. This will probably be met with groans, eye rolls or panic. Hold strong – it is probably equally hard to get them to lay down the iPhone to have a conversation with you, so typing shouldn’t be a problem for them; however composing an email that sounds professional and not like a text to their friends may be. 

Let your child compose the email but not send it before you review it. No exaggeration, I have received emails from job seekers that look like this, “Want 2 know how 2 apply. Want a job ths summer. Pls let me know what 2 do. Sent from my android”

Want 2 know how 2 apply. Want a job ths summer. Pls let me know what 2 do.
Sent from my android

A great life skill not being taught (or at least absorbed) in school is how to compose a professional email. Most employers working with this age group expects the email will read as if a teen penned it but a professional email will have your child instantly stand out among his peers. Have him/her make a stab at it, review and help to reword parts as necessary…and please check that the email address they are sending it from sounds professional. Some variation of their name usually is best; ones like “partyboy_the best” are not.

Social Media  Yes, it is creepy true. The majority of employers today screen social media. If it takes a two second google search to find out an applicant is posting pictures smoking pot with friends and openly posting it for an employer to see (or school, potential college, law enforcement, predator, etc.), this may not be the best chance of landing a job with a reputable company. Take a few minutes and look up your child. If you were any of the aforementioned groups of people, what would the profile tell you? [/toggle]


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Most applicants come in with shaky voices and sweaty palms. Your child is probably quite nervous about this stage.  Come up with potential, relevant questions and hold a mock-interview. If they are interviewing to be a hostess, ask about customer service and stressful situations; if applying for child care, ask how they would handle a diaper blow-out during a meltdown. Coach on how to use their experiences as appropriate ways to answer questions such as “tell me about yourself,” “what are you strengths/weaknesses,” “what makes you stand out.” We have had some stellar and heartbreaking answers to “tell me a situation you have overcome” and some duds (“Um, I’m kinda lazy and don’t like to be told what to do.”). Teach the trick of giving an answer that turns negatives into positives (“I tend to not want to quit until the job is done”).

Prior to the interview, make sure your child has the necessary items. Typically he/she will need a resume, school ID or driver’s license, social security card/number, references, a schedule of open dates for potential training, etc. Also, remind him/her that the company hires their age demographic and therefore will know answers won’t be perfect. This tip may allow them to bring confidence and peace, which will help them relax during the interview.

Normally, as the parent, you will remain in the waiting room while your child is interviewed. More than likely the next steps are communicated during the interview, but often a potential employee is so nervous that he/she does not remember who interviewed them, much less what was told to them. The best thing they can do is bring a pad of paper with previously determined questions and record information during the interview (including next steps). 

Go home, have a glass of wine and know that to a potential employer your child appeared prepared and engaged in the process (even if it due to your coaching).  Good job, Mama.  That is huge.

In the car, congratulate your child. If this will be the first interview, this is a huge milestone into adulthood and no matter how nice the interviewer was, your kiddo had to overcome anxiety to do this. Go home, have a glass of wine (you, not your child…obviously) and know that to a potential employer your child appeared prepared and engaged in the process. Good job, Mama. That is huge.  [/toggle]


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In over 400 interviews each spring, we see maybe three thank you emails following the meeting. You can bet those three are recognized and if we are between two candidates, have the edge. Although you can find numerous examples, this Salisbury article is a good template from the “thank you” to “when to follow back up.” In our company, hiring is fast and furious and we encourage the interviewees to follow up if they have not heard from us.  We see typically two types of follow-ups:

Example 1: “I am emailing you because you said you would email me and I have not heard from you. If you don’t want to give me the job, then I need to look somewhere else. Please email me back today.”

Example 2: “Dear Enter name of Interviewer, Thank you again for the time to interview me last week. I know you are very busy with hiring and I just wanted to follow up on the position to see if it was still available and if there is anything else I need to do. Looking forward to hearing from you. Enter First/Last name of Child

The above examples bring home the reminder that just like you did for the initial email, please double check your child’s email for professionalism. This is still a learning curve for him/her and aside from the potential employer, you are probably the only teacher in this subject.



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Typical paperwork will follow and your kiddo will look blankly at HR as to how to fill it out. To make this administrative nightmare process smoother, many companies will have similar paperwork to download and fill out at home. Below are some of normal paperwork items:

  • I9:  The first page is the future employees (your child’s) part to fill out
  • State withholding tax: a listing of state tax forms can be found here
  • Federal withholding tax: W4
  • Work Permit: Many states (Ohio is one) require a work permit, which is obtained through local schools

Past these, typical paperwork includes, but is not limited to, handbooks, agreements, photo release, social media policies, potential drug testing and/or background screening, etc. At any point of time, advise your child that if he/she does not feel comfortable signing off on anything, to bring a copy home for you to help review. Of course, your child can always email/call the company ahead of time and request an electric copy prior to coming in to sign off on policies.  [/toggle]


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Once you are a part of the parents-with-working-children club, a variety of on the job issues may come up.  Here are some of the more common ones we see:

They do not need to like their coworkers; they just need to be able to work with them.

Co-workers do not need to be BFF’s: Especially if your child is working with his/her peers, remind them they do not need to like their coworkers, but they do need to be able to work with them. It is an added bonus (and sometimes hardship) to be friends with the people you work alongside, but it is not necessary. To know they do not have to enjoy every person (or task) of a job is normal and allowable may take some of the stress away when the now-expected drama of the job unfolds. At this point of time, it be useful to add in the best method of attack is to keep a helpful attitude, even if the are not fans of their co-workers. 

Pay: At some point of time, a paycheck may inaccurately be calculated. For the vast majority of businesses, this is not intentional and sometimes, it is actually correctly calculated but an oversight has happened. Help your child put together an email, explaining the issue in the most non-accusatory and emotional way possible. Understandably, it is upsetting to think a paycheck may be incorrect, and often a new worker’s frustration spills out onto a computer screen. 

We have seen both sides of the email-spectrum, from “I am not going to work here if you do not pay me correctly. I don’t appreciate not being paid when I clearly worked,” to “I am confused because my time card seems to have calculated these hours but I do not see it in the pay. Here is what the pay statement says and here are the breakdown of my hours. Can you let me know what I need to adjust to make sure I get paid these?” As a parent, you can help your child put the issue on paper, but in a way that reflects highly on the individual and not come off as hot-headed and rash.

Let your child vent, reassure them it is probably human error or misunderstanding and guide them through a professional email on an uncomfortable topic.

Sure, there are some unethical companies that will try to take advantage of young employees but most mistakes from honest companies are either misunderstandings or truly an error the company will make up in the next paycheck.  Let your child vent (to you), reassure them it is probably human error or misunderstanding and guide them through a professional email on an uncomfortable topic.

Management: At some point management will be a concern for your kiddo and, depending on the situation, could yield a variety of recommended responses. First, remember typically there are two sides to every story and although it may seem like your child’s manager is being totally unreasonable, part of the story may be missing. Depending on the severity, it may be difficult to not go mama-bear if it feels your child was wronged. Take a breath, or many, try to think of what steps you would take as an employee and advise your child accordingly. Of course, if any attempts of your child to rectify the situation do not work, then help them out, but give them the tools and knowledge to rectify the situation on their own. 

One mom wrote in for her son after he seemingly was not finding satisfactory answers on his own, copied her son and then when I replied, backed out and let her son handle the rest of the conversation (with her being copied to stay in the loop). Separately, she emailed and thanked me saying she suspected her son did not give her the whole story. In the end it was such a great experience for all involved, working together to make sure clear expectations were set, honest, non-emotional communication was achieved and in the end, a solution was met that satisfied all parties involved.

Scheduling: At this point, especially if you are driving your child and have multiple children working, scheduling will become imperative. Each manager/company completes this chore differently and your child will need to figure out how the company schedules (weekly, monthly, set schedules, flexible scheduling, etc). Try as best you can to allow your child to own this area, even if you are physically sitting with them putting in the availability. Have them copy the schedule into their phone or planner, along with outside commitments, should any managers/co-workers ask for someone to help with an open shift.

Social Media, revisited: As a final note, please remind them social media still matters once they are hired. It is not uncommon to hear stories of employees blowing off work to post a picture skiing or become irate at a situation and vent on Twitter only to be relieved of their job due to the post. For a generation growing up with social media, the need to express themselves in 140 characters or less seems normal but in the professional world, a couple examples of lost jobs due to a lack of reservation may help to push home the topic of judgement in posting.  [/toggle]

The fact you are keeping tabs on an article to help your child succeed in his/her early steps of job searching speaks volumes to your dedication as parent. Trust your instincts – if a work environment does not feel right, trust that gut-reaction. If the information just doesn’t seem to add up, help them ask the right questions. The skills you teach them in these early jobs will stick with them far after they have moved onto brighter horizons. You can rest knowing you empowered them with the tools to stand out from a sea of applicants.


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