Dear Mr. Dad: I want to get a job this summer but my parents are refusing to give me permission. They say I’m too young, but I disagree. I’m turning 15 a week before school ends and some of my friends have had summer jobs for a few years. I’m jealous that they have their own money to spend and don’t have to ask their parents for it, which I hate doing. What can I do to convince my parents to let me get a job?

A: Well, you’ve got me convinced. Your desire to find work and the fact that you’re already thinking about it months in advance are clear signs that you’re plenty old enough and mature enough to handle a summer job. I guarantee that parents all over the country are reading this and wishing that their teenager (or older child who’s still living at home) would ask the same thing.

That said, your parents may have a point. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the minimum age for working outside of school hours is 14. But in most states, if you’re under 16, you need to get a work permit from your school before you can get a job—even when school’s not in session. Certain other age limits may kick in depending on the type of job you’re doing and how many hours you’ll be doing it. So check with your school guidance counselor.

Assuming you’re on solid legal ground age-wise, sit down with your parents and talk with them about why you want a summer job and the types of jobs you’re most interested in applying for. Ask them what their hesitation is—and listen carefully. Maybe they’re worried about your safety, either on the job or getting yourself there and back. Those are perfectly reasonable concerns for parents to have, so it’ll be up to you to deal with them. You might agree to work only during daylight hours and to look for jobs that you can get to easily and safely.

Your parents may have other worries as well. Judging from how much thought and planning you’ve put into your summer job plans, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you’re a driven, straight-A student and that you put a lot of pressure on yourself to succeed. If that’s true (and I say this as the father of a child who was like that in high school), your parents may feel that you need a break from work and that you should use your summer as a time to unwind and relax. Another reasonable concern, so you should spend some time thinking about how to assure them that you’ll be giving yourself enough downtime to enjoy the summer.

If your parents need more convincing, here are a few ways that having a part-time job are good for you.

  • It will help you build competence, independence, and self-esteem. It’ll also make you even more responsible that you already are.
  • You’ll learn lot of useful skills, such as how to follow instructions, get along with bosses and co-workers, deal with the public, and manage your money.
  • You’ll learn something about the value of hard work, and you’ll appreciate everything you spend your paychecks on because you’ll have earned it, not because mom and dad gave it to you.

Once you get your parents on board (which I know you will), don’t let yourself get consumed by making money. Balance in life is essential—especially for someone your age—and that means leaving room for family and friends, and plenty of down time to just hang out and be a kid.