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Get A Job: When Should You Let Your Child Work?

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What is a Good Age for a First Job?

As a new parent there are so many questions that I am starting to ask myself.  Some of these questions are for right now: Do we get optional immunizations or just the mandatory ones?, Do we buy this outfit in size 6 months or 12 months? *based on when she’d be wearing it* or Will she ever go to sleep? etc).  Then there are other questions. Questions we have quite a few years to figure out that still creep into my mind.  Yesterday I started to ask myself – what is a good age for a child to start working their first job?

The Legals

We live in Ontario, Canada.  In Canada each province sets the minimum age that a person can have a job.

For us the minimum age to have a real job is 14 however the work cannot be during school hours unless specific permission is given until the age of 18.  Higher age minimums are set for more dangerous work such as factory-work or mining operations.  Of course a child is able to do something that makes money earlier than 14.  The other day on my way home from work I saw a couple of young ones set up on their driveway with a lemonade stand; something I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Kids can make a few extra bucks mowing grass or shoveling driveways.  It is a great way to learn responsibility. This helps with developing an appreciation for what it takes to have money for the things we want.

Daddy’s Background

I started my first job at the age of 7.  It was a paper route, and I was delivering for The Brampton Guardian.  The work was pretty easy.  I had an assignment of around 100 houses in my neighbourhood.  I’d just walk around and drop them off in the mailbox or on the front step.  I don’t remember what I was making, I’m sure it was peanuts but I was 7 and it was 1988 – peanuts went a long way!

If memory serves the residents didn’t have to pay for the paper so I was paid directly by the paper.  The Guardian actually still hires “Youth Carriers” and offers incentives for keeping good grades which I think is awesome.  Looking back on it, 7 was probably a bit early to start working but a strong work ethic was one of the best things I got from my father so I was eager to do it.

Mommy’s Background

As for my wonderful wife Sarah – she started working at a much more reasonable age of 15.  Her first job was at a McDonalds inside a Walmart.  She made minimum wage (which was $6.40 an hour for someone her age at the time).  Sarah was there for 2 years cleaning the tables and then running a register.  The goal was to make to the kitchen but a job came up at Canadian Tire and she made the move.  While there were no incentives for grades, having a job at all was contingent on getting school work done on time.  Essentially we both have a very strong work ethic – so I’m hopeful we will be successful in passing that long to our daughter.

What to do for Baby Ava?

Sarah and I work very hard to make sure we are financially covered, and we are socking away as much as possible for Ava’s future needs.  While we haven’t really come to a decision on when we are okay with her having a job – we are both focused on making sure she doesn’t NEED one.  I also think that it is very important that schoolwork comes before work work.  I think the idea of having incentives for working and keeping up grades are great – but at the same time if grades slip the job goes.

This decision probably won’t be made for more than a decade – and will likely have some input from Ava herself.  As parents, we fully intend to teach our child(ren) about respecting money at a young age, likely well before they start a job.  As far as the job itself – I’m thinking between 14 & 15 is good.  That should give her enough time to save up for her first car!

What age did you start working, and would you want the same for your children?



  1. Steveark says:

    Good plan but I doubt work could ever hurt a kid’s grades. If anything the discipline of managing work and school should improve them. My kids all worked, now they are an engineer, a doctor and a university educator. But awesome you are thinking things through in advance, I started working at 9 or 10 and never really stopped. It gives you a real advantage in life to start early.

    • Couple of Sense says:

      With proper guidance I agree that work wouldn’t hurt grades – but the two importants words are proper and guidance. You obviously did something right having three kids that all are doing so well. Sadly this isn’t the case and I really think parents need to keep an eye on it especially later in their schooling (mid-late highschool). Thank you very much for sharing.

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