I stood under the front entrance canopy of the H.E.B. grocery store as I watched cold rain pouring onto the parking lot. Slowly moving toward me was a young woman pushing a train of about fifteen shopping carts. Her head was down as she leaned into the carts, maneuvering them into position. Then she looked up at me and beamed a brief, exasperated smile.

It seemed like an intelligent smile. I smiled back and wondered what she was thinking. I imagined it was something like this…

After weeks without rain, I get it on my shift! I must look like a mess. This is a hard way to make money!

I was sure she didn’t know it, but how she responds to a job like this will have a big impact on her life. I’ve written about how the developing teen brain is a turning point in a person’s life.

The discipline and structure imposed by employment can give her goals, a sense of purpose and accountability at a time when her brain is disrupted by spurts of growth and self-management is difficult. Also, it’s valuable to gain a realistic perspective on what hard work is and what needs to happen in a successful business.

But another plausible reaction might be…

This is crap. I don’t have to put up with this. I’m outta here.

I had no idea what she was thinking. But I knew that whatever it was, the consequences would not be trivial.

I highlight the importance of establishing a work ethic in Chapter 11 of my new book: How Your Teen Can Grow a Smarter Brain.

You can grow the bond with your child through better listening. Download the FREE ebook, Listening to Understand.