Can I have the career I want and my family too?
July 22, 2009 9:43 PM Subscribe
How do I deal with enormous pressure from my parents? I apologize for the length, and thanks in advance for your advice.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My parents want me to get an MBA. I want to be a musician. 80-90% of my conversations with my parents are about this. They tell me horror stories about their friends' kids who tried to make it in the arts and failed. They tell me that if I'm really serious about a career as a singer, I'll get an MBA. They tell me that if I don't get an MBA, I will not find a good husband, and/or the men whom I'd want to marry won't respect me because I won't be earning enough. They tell me that they know better than I do what is right for me, and I will understand when I have children of my own.
I am 25, have been living on my own and supporting myself since graduating from college, and currently hold a decent job that I am not too excited about but that pays the bills (including the bills for my voice lessons). I perform a fair amount and have been writing and arranging songs, which I am getting ready to record. But I feel torn between what I love and find meaningful - making music - and what my parents think I should do. I worry that they're right and I will be miserable and alone if I don't go to business school. I also worry very seriously that if I completely dedicate myself to music and commit to it, I will destroy my family. My parents tell me how miserable they are because they worry about me and the choices I am making. When I make choices that they disagree with (e.g. I had a boyfriend that they disliked) they get very emotional and will call me and email me many times a day in tears and express at great length how deeply hurt and upset and worried they are and what it is that they want me to do instead. They also talk to my sister (who is also my roommate) about how upset they are, so I hear about it from her too (if she mentions that they called and were upset).
I want to have a positive relationship with my parents. Family is very important to me. But I am unhappy with things as they are. I wish that my parents would support me and want me to be happy, instead of putting so much stock in a diploma. I “know” that, but at the same time I fear that they’re actually right to push me in this direction. I feel indecisive, pulled in different directions. Lately I have been unable to commit to applying to business school and unable to really pursue my music either, which feels terrible. I feel like my parents are forcing me to choose between the music I love and the family I love.
My questions are:
1. Broadly speaking, what do I do about all of this?
2. I discussed this with a friend, and she strongly urged me to set a boundary with my parents. She told me to write them an email explaining that I love them and want them to be part of my life, but that I will not discuss the subject of my career with them in any form for the next x amount of time. Then, talk to them about everything else, but if they start to bring up business school, say “I’m sorry, I do not do this to hurt you, but as I explained, I will not talk about this subject, so I am hanging up now.” I am not sure if this would work or how to make it work, and I am afraid of hurting or upsetting my parents, so I welcome all and any advice pro or con this plan and any insights you may have as to how to establish and maintain healthy parent-child boundaries.
Seriously, thank you very much for your time and your advice. I will read and consider all of it carefully.