My 16-year-old daughter has got a temporary job with a freelancer who does some work for a BPO. This has given her the positive feeling of earning, which we are happy with. However, it has also had an undesirable effect—she thinks that she does not need to study further, and can pick up all kinds of skills on the job now. She has declared that she will complete class XII, and then work full-time. The freelancer is also influencing her heavily to not bother with further studies. How do I convince her that there is more to life than earning quickly (and spending equally quickly)?

That’s an unfortunate conclusion that your daughter has drawn. And, it looks like the person who is influencing her is pretty short-sighted, as well as unscrupulous. I’m sure you’ve tried to reason with your daughter, but currently the immediate gains—the flush of money, and the feeling that annoying and difficult studies are not needed at all—are blinding her thoroughly.

Money talks: Teenagers should not mistake part-time jobs for career options.

You really must sit her down and give her a larger world view than the one she has now, for her to see that what she’s doing right now is not really a career path. You will have to line up people to tell her this. Coming only from her parents, it won’t make too much sense to her right now.

You need to enlist the help of other adults, preferably young adults who’re earning well as a result of their qualifications. Someone of that profile will be able to tell her more convincingly that there is more to a working life than earning money. There’s mental challenge, there’s growth, there’s exposure to the larger world, all waiting for her if she goes beyond the lure of money right now.

This person, who you find to speak to her, should explain that she will remain “coolie" labour if she decides to be satisfied with the money that comes her way easily, and does not qualify for anything better. Also, as you may have tried to tell her, entire industries change/vanish, and it is essential to acquire many different skill sets.

If she refuses to see reason, you’ll have to pull rank with her, and simply insist that she complete some kind of qualification above and beyond class XII. This you will have to tie in with a judicious mix of reward and punishment—easier said than done, I know, with a stubborn 16-year-old who has made up her mind and thinks that she is on to a good thing. Perhaps you can come to some kind of balance wherein she keeps a part-time job going and continues to study.

Lastly, I don’t know if this is feasible, but can you not talk to this freelancer who seems to be playing Pied Piper? Appeal to the person’s reason: However much of a success story the person is minus qualifications, the person has no business influencing young people to ditch studies. You (or ideally, that young working adult that I suggested earlier) need to also point out to your daughter that this “employer" is speaking from the point of view of someone who needs “coolie" labour to keep his work going, and is not speaking with her future in mind.

Gouri Dange is the author of ABCs of Parenting.

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