Everything requires training which means that nothing is immediate or effort-free.
In early America most people learned their family’s trade or they participated in an apprenticeship. Boys would live and work with a master craftsman for at least four to five years. Once the apprentice finished his training he would be a journeyman which would allow him to work in the shop of a master craftsman. Eventually the journeyman would work for himself in his own shop.
The craftsman and the apprentice would agree on the terms and sign a contract. Most apprentice would work for little or no money to start with, but as their skills increased there would also be an increase in wage. The majority of work was done in exchange for their education in the trade, room and board.
Apprenticeship can be a great way for your child to be trained in skills that you cannot teach. Books and videos are great, but nothing is better than learning hands on, side by side with someone that knows their trade inside and out! Most apprenticeships do not require living with the tradesman these days, thanks to modern transportation!!!
Look for people in your circle of friends, family or even church members that would be willing to apprentice. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a full time job. You may have a family member that does auto repairs on the weekends and they may be willing to let your son watch and learn. You may have a friend that has a farm and they’d be willing to let your son come work the farm in exchange for him learning how to mend fences, operate machinery and care for livestock.
When Considering Apprenticeship:
~Before you send your teen off be sure he is ready and willing. People who are willing to teach while they work don’t want to babysit. Teaching slows a tradesman down so be sure to respect his time.
~Depending on the situation you will need to check with state child labor laws to see what your child can and cannot do. (BOLOGNA!) Do what you want with it.
~No matter what type of apprenticeship you are looking for, be sure to have clear communication in what you expect and what the craftsman expects. Having it put in writing is best for both parties. Discuss time schedules, skills to be learned, attitudes, wages -if any, etc…
~Be sure your child is mature enough. The tradesman may have habits or world views that differ from yours. This will very likely challenge your child’s discernment. The ideal situation would be to find someone that is like-minded, but you may need to teach your teen how to keep business separate from personal views.
Personally, we would not put our teen with someone who was not a Christian. On the other hand, just because someone says they are a Christian does not mean he will live as one. We’ve experienced this first hand more than once.
Jeff will have teen boys work with him. He makes it clear with the parents that he is a smoker (yuck, I know). So far this has not been a problem.
Not all apprenticeships will work out. It is OK to withdraw and wait for more maturity/character training if need be. Or it may be a situation where you need to find someone else to apprentice with. Don’t give up.
If a boy is spiritually MATURE, 16-17 is a good age to start broadening his horizons. We can’t keep them under our wing forever. Satan is seeking to devourer who he can, so we have to do ALL we can to protect and equip them, then slowly release them. I don’t think there is a magic age. Every boy is different, every family is different. The ideal situation is family business. )