My son got his first job when he was thirteen. He’d spend the summer working in hayfields doing hard labor in the sun. He loved making money, but more than that, he loved working with his body and hands. I loved it too. For the first time in his life, my son had an outlet for his energy. He got a lot of satisfaction from working outside and being physically active.
This was a big deal since he’d struggled in school for so long. He had trouble sitting still, talked a lot about being bored, and wasn’t able to focus for long periods of time. But when he was working, my son was in his element. It didn’t take long for us to realize that he’d need to do the kind of work that didn’t require sitting at a desk all day. My son would need to do something that involved his body and his mind in order to be happy. My remaining dilemma was how to get him through his last years of school.
High school was a struggle for my son
High school was a struggle for him. It was easier for him to work two jobs his junior year than it was for him to hand in a paper on time. He hated reading but had no problem figuring out how to change the oil and tires on his car. He taught himself how to repair a broken-down dirt bike and he got in a trade.
He fixed our central vacuum system. He changed the headlights on his car. He was able to figure out things that I could never wrap my head around but trying to get him to sit still long enough to get his school work done was torture for both of us.
When he started working as a plumber he caught on quickly
When he started working for his father as a plumber, he caught on fast. My ex-husband told me that our son was a natural and a huge help. He started out as an assistant-someone who could drill holes, lug pipe around, and lend a hand. It wasn’t long before my son could change a toilet or kitchen faucet by himself.
He started working for his dad over three years ago. We all thought it was a no-brainer: a way to earn money, learn a trade, and help his father out who struggles to find a reliable worker who knew the plumbing trade despite the fact he can offer full-time work and great pay. We didn’t know if it would lead to our son finding his calling; something he’d want to do for the rest of his life. However, that’s what happened.
It wasn’t forced on him by any means and we gave him the option (time and time again) to go to college. We talked about trade schools, we talked about getting his Bachelor’s Degree, and we talked about working somewhere else. I felt like we covered all of our bases and in the end, my son knew exactly what he wanted to do. It just so happens his dream job doesn’t require a college education.
That doesn’t mean he won’t change his mind- he’s almost nineteen and he still has lots of living to do. His dream career may change a few times in his life but for now, he’s doing what he loves without a college degree. (And the debt that comes along with that.)
My son does not need a diploma to feel worthy
He didn’t need that piece of paper or the years of schooling to feel worthy. He didn’t need to tell people what school he was going to despite the fact he got asked hundreds of times.
He didn’t need to do what other people his age were doing because he already knew what his next step would be. He knew what was right for him and he didn’t need me or his father to try and talk him out of it or steer him down a path he had zero interest in.
My son is so happy. He wakes up every day and looks forward to the day ahead. He loves working with the other guys on the job and having lunch with his dad. He likes learning the trade and knowing one day he can take over the business and make his own schedule.
My son loves that he is earning money
He’s over the moon about the financial freedom he now has and the fact he can afford his trucks, insurance, gas, food, and gym membership on his own. He enjoys being self-sufficient and bringing home a paycheck after a rewarding week of the week. How many people do you know who can say that about their career or job?
All I want is for my kids to be happy. A huge part of that is finding your passion and getting paid for it. I want them to be fulfilled and if finding their dream career right out of high school without going to college is what that looks like, then I’m all in. Not every dream comes with a college degree and there are a lot of kids out there who don’t need that experience in order to live their best life.
More Great Reading:
Seven Reasons Skilled Trades May Be the Best Path for Your Teen