My son took me out to dinner the other night. Sitting across from the grown man that used to be my baby still feels strange, and watching him take the bill from the waitress and insist on paying. He likes treating me because I’m his mother, but he also likes that he can afford to do things like this.
When he graduated high school almost two years ago, he decided that he wasn’t going to college. He was very vocal about it, and although, at the time, he didn’t have a plan for his future, I didn’t push him to go. School has never been his thing, and he couldn’t wait until the days of sitting in a classroom all day were over. He has always been productive and loves working with his hands, so I had faith he’d figure it out.
And boy, did he ever figure it out.
My son worked with his father to learn the plumbing trade
He’d been working for my ex-husband for a few years, learning the plumbing trade, and decided sometime during his senior year of high school that’s what he wanted to do. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I’m not overwhelmed with joy that I didn’t force him to do something he didn’t want to do with his life.
My ex-husband and I went to college and got bachelor’s degrees. We started saving for our kids’ college careers as soon as they were born. We always assumed they would go to college, and we talked about it with them when they were younger.
My son had other plans, though. He knew it wasn’t the path he wanted to take. Even when he’d tell people (in a very confident tone) that he didn’t want to go to college, they’d fire back with comments about how he should go now because he might not go later or how he really won’t be able to make a good living without a degree. It was as if many people thought he was throwing away his entire life just because he didn’t want to go to college right after high school.
My son has no debt, and he’s been able to save money
Not only does my son not have any debt, he just bought a truck, paid cash for it, and has a hefty bank account. He’s very responsible with his money and has been investing in stocks. At nineteen he’s saving for his retirement. He knows he doesn’t want to accrue debt, and he watches videos about investing and spending wisely.
I didn’t even start learning about these things until I graduated from college. And back then, I had so much debt I could barely afford my student loans, apartment, and the car I’d financed. So that fact I couldn’t start saving for retirement (or anything else) made me feel ashamed and like I was already behind in life.
My son is a huge success despite not going to college
My son didn’t go to college, and he is a huge success for many reasons. He followed his gut and went into the trades because he knew it was his best choice, which gave him confidence. His finances are better than mine were when I was thirty. Not going to school and working has forced him to learn how to spend his money wisely at a young age, and he’s created some great habits that I hope will stick for the rest of his life.
But the biggest reason I think my son is successful is his happiness. He wakes up early every morning and looks forward to going to work. He’s often told me he loves driving around doing service work or working with other guys on big commercial jobs. He gets to use his brain and hands simultaneously and likes the challenges of being a plumber.
He knows he has job security because during lean times, people do repairs, and during lucrative times, people redo their bathrooms and kitchens. There are also a lot of opportunities to grow, and his plan is to one day take over the business and run it on his own.
When we think about our kids being successful, many of us envision them in a career making good money and being able to handle their life and stay organized. But real success means loving what you do enough that it doesn’t feel like work and you are excited to start each day instead of dread.
And whether your child gets a college degree or not, that’s the goal.
More Great Reading:
Seven Reasons Skilled Trades May Be the Best Path for Your Teen