Preparing Sons Real Life Stories

I recently spoke with a homeschooled, eighteen-year-old young man of whom I think highly. Let’s call him Eric. He is friendly, respectful, and I have not observed him being silly like many others his age. Unfortunately, there is one disappointing aspect of his life—he has not been working toward acquiring the necessary vocational skills needed to earn a living once he graduates from high school.

What makes it worse is the golden opportunity Eric has had. Eric’s father is a computer programmer and would love to have his son learn programming. His father has also produced and sold a number of software products that require telephone customer service. In addition to learning programming, Eric could also have learned valuable customer support skills.

As Eric and I talked, I continued pressing to find out why he hadn’t been studying and learning programming. Finally, when he ran out of evasive, general answers, he blurted out the real answer—he wanted to continue trying to make a go of his graphic arts business. What this really meant was that he was too focused on the desires of his heart. He did not understand how God uses parents to lead and equip children. His desire to learn graphic design caused him to ignore his parents’ counsel. He was unable to look down the road a short distance, past his heart, to see how God might use programming to establish a vocational and financial foundation for him.

Eric is a man and needs to be working hard—especially considering the three or four years of vocational learning opportunities that have been lost. I explained to Eric how programming and graphic arts complement each other very well. At least this is what we have found in our business. Had he listened to his father, he could have learned programming during his final years of high school and been working full time, for a good wage, upon graduation.

The high school years are vitally important to young men as they prepare for their future. Homeschooled children have a wonderful opportunity that others lack: they are able to tailor their curriculum toward God’s future vocational leading.

As well as a strong focus on God, character, and academics, we have tried to maintain a concerted vocational emphasis for our children in their junior and high school years. Christopher, our second born, spent extra time learning accounting and computer-based design. Upon graduation he became the Chief Financial Officer of our fledgling company. It was wonderful because he was ready for some real challenge and we had a need for him to fill that role.

Now, four years later, he truly deserves the title. He does a superb job managing the financial side of the company as well as doing all the computer layout and design we need. His earnings are on par with his responsibilities. His goal of buying his first house debt free, like his twenty-four-year-old brother just did, is looking very feasible.

I hesitate in sharing some of these details because I don’t want to boast. However, I do want to encourage you. Homeschooling moms and dads are blessed to be able to prepare their children for life in ways that others can only dream of. Homeschoolers should never think of homeschooling just as a way to teach their children, but as a golden opportunity to ready each child for his future. Even though many public high school graduation speeches talk about the graduates being equipped for life, I know from my own experience that was not the case.

Is the ability to purchase a home debt free a good goal for sons? Think about what a burden rent and/or mortgage payments are. They pressure men to choose work in places where Christians should not be employed. I have also known men, under tremendous financial pressure due to their mortgage, who participated in unethical and illegal business dealings. Concern over loss of income should never hold a Christian to a job with which his Lord would not be pleased.

Now can you see why we have presented our children with this goal of a debt-free house? Many parents may see saving for a house as unrealistic because a mortgage payment has hounded them through their marriage. However, I would encourage you to ask the Lord if it might not be a worthy goal for your sons.

Teri and I would have loved to provide our children with homes according to Proverbs 19:14, “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.” Unfortunately, we are nowhere near being able to do that. However, we can provide them with room and board for as long as it takes them to save up for their house. Even then it is our desire that they would continue to live with us until God provides them a spouse.

If a young man has prepared well during high school, he should fairly easily be able to earn thirty-five thousand dollars or more a year when he graduates. Start with a yearly income and then subtract tithes, offerings, and taxes. Then money must be put aside for transportation, insurance (medical and auto), and other incidental expenses. If your son is frugal he should be able to save 50 percent or slightly more of his income while living at home.

Within six years from high school graduation your twenty-four-year-old son will have saved one hundred thousand dollars, not counting any appreciable interest. I find that very exciting. If he earned less than thirty-five thousand a year, it just means he must save a little longer.

Depending upon the location, size, and age of the house your son will purchase, he might not even need one hundred thousand. There are so many possibilities and intriguing options, but nothing happens unless a son has a vision, and you help him prepare.

My sons have found that as they accumulate a significant amount of savings, the interest starts to really add up. This has given them a true appreciation for earning, rather than paying, interest. That is where the battle is won! When you are successful in motivating toward a goal, your sons will own that goal and work toward achieving it.

As Eric and I ended our conversation, I told him I was going to keep asking him, every time I saw him, until he began studying programming in earnest. I admit I was a bit pushy, but I felt God’s leading so strongly that I was very forthright when I might otherwise have been subtler.

Since our conversation I’m delighted to say that Eric has really begun applying himself to the study of programming. He is now able to see that his father’s leading was correct and how the skill of programming will benefit him.

I am anxious to see the day when Eric is bringing in a reasonable wage for his efforts. He is a serious enough young man that I don’t expect him to waste his money on frivolous things but to save toward a house. What an incredible benefit that will be to him as he begins his adult life.

We have known Troy for quite a while. He was homeschooled, and his first job was as a two-week temporary assistant to the most junior employee in the company. Troy was hired to move heavy archive boxes in the basement. Being his first real job, Troy was determined to do his best regardless of how menial the tasks. That doesn’t sound like an impressive start to a career, does it? However, it was amazing to see how God was working. While doing his work assignments, he did his best to learn the archiving system of the company. He also tried to perform each task quickly so he would be available to do other “little” things for his boss.

His temporary position was extended, and after a couple of months, he replaced his “boss” as archiving manager for the company. Throughout the next year or so, he completely redesigned the archive system from the bottom up. This included designing a new database and tracking system for more than 4,000 boxes of information.

Computers have always interested Troy, and he found himself helping various people in the company with small projects in his spare time. While not an expert in formulas and the financial aspects of spreadsheets, his desire to learn enabled him to create, fix, and modify spreadsheets. Thus he began to be used in the process of converting the company’s spreadsheets from Lotus 1-2-3 to Microsoft Excel. After a while he was doing spreadsheet and database consulting full time. He completely redesigned their largest financial spreadsheet (which was made up of seventeen inter-working spreadsheets) in a three-month-long development project.

Troy began working for minimum wage, and within two years his hourly rate had climbed to twenty-five dollars an hour. He has chosen to go on to college and has found it extremely easy to continue earning that amount doing contract work for another company near his school. Think about how easy it would be to remain debt free through college by working part time and summers for twenty-five dollars an hour.

My encouragement to you is that any homeschooling parent can have confidence that their son can provide a good income for his family with the proper preparation. This requires determination and hard work on your part and your sons’, but the results are well worth it, lasting a lifetime.

For more information on raising sons who can provide for a family, please see Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family.