August 23, 2019

Child Rearing: Summer Jobs

Many westerners view the memories of their first summer jobs with a touch of nostalgia. Teenage summers spent lifeguarding, performing waitressing and the like are seen by most westerners as badges of honor; those first honest dollars earned at minimum wage in wretched conditions are seen as part of the process of growing up.

These same westerners are in for a rude awakening, therefore, when they try to impress Thai spouses with horror stories from these first employment experiences. Rather than responding with laughter or respect, most Thais will probably only express bafflement and sympathy.

Rather than seeing teenage jobs as foundations for self-discipline and fiscal responsiblity, Thais view the issue of teenagers working as child labor – undesirable, unfortunate, and certainly nothing to be proud of. Thai culture views teenagers as children; children ideally are protected from the harsh realities of the working world until they reach adulthood. Jobs for teenages are seen as a sign of familial poverty, and children who are forced to work before adulthood are pitied.

The issue stands to become a greater concern for a Thai-Western couple with children. Differing views of the importance of summer jobs hold the potential to become a significant source of tension. A western parent may see a summer job as an important stepping stone towards adulthood,  but a Thai parent may see summer employment as an unnecessary and harsh interruption of childhood.

But how to solve this dispute? Issues to consider include both location, the child in question’s interests,  and how working might impact the child’s future entry into a university. Summer jobs are an institution in the west, and are therefore much more readily available to a Thai-Western family living outside of Thailand – it’s less certain whether a teenager in Thailand will be able to find employment for the short summer months. Another issues is where the student in question desires to attend university. Western universities, particularly those in the United States, are increasingly interested in how applicants have augmented their grades and test scores with extracurricular activities, and summer jobs may be a means to demonstrate leadership and other important qualities.  Finally, the child’s own interests should (obviously) be considered. Many teenagers like the sense of independence gained from summer jobs, not to mention the extra cash.

 

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  1. […] Western vs. Thai Parenting: Jobs and Works for Teenagers – This video demonstrates how Western-Thai parents differ in culture in childrearing. […]

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