April 29, 2011 - submitted by Fiona, Hong Kong

I just wanted to ask what one should do if their parents don't allow them to do what they want with their life?
My parents are quite strict and they don't think art is something good to do.
When I told them that I wanted to take a vocational course on art
they were really really angry and said they wouldn't let me. What do I do? Fiona

The Oracle replies:

Gosh another dilemma that so many of us are faced with growing up. I used to think that up to a certain age it was ok for parents to impose their rules on their children, you know like house rules and such. However, I do sometimes question how many parents can remember themselves being a teenager/young adult - which I assume you are. It seems some easily forget what it's like.
The thing is, maybe your parents' parents were fairly strict too and that might have worked out well. Your parents may have had their own thoughts and ideas that were quashed by their parents so now they're implementing the same regimented blueprint for parenthood. It's tough being a parent because you want the best for your kids no matter what. You want to support their decisions and help nurture them. However, some parents want their version of best which could be a life based on financial success and a stable career with good prospects. Art isn't always taken seriously but there are hundreds of options where it could lead you in life. Your parents may have had their freedom of choice taken away but that doesn't mean you should have to either. If it's the opposite and your parents were allowed free will then they will surely understand your predicament.
It would be really brave and mature of you to sit down with them both and explain how you feel. Tell them you feel passionately about the subject and want to follow your dream rather than be unhappy following theirs and possibly ending up with feelings of bitterness & resentment further down the line.
Stand your ground as they may be hoping it's a passing phase so please, if you really do want to follow your heart, get your head to come up with all your reasons why and explain them calmly to your mum and dad.
I do understand that for some people this situation could become impossible. My only solution there is to say that perhaps art could be put on the back burner until you're of adult age where you can make your own decisions for yourself but I truly hope you make them see that it's your life and you want to take control of its course. Mistakes and all. Over to you.

Hello Fiona, I can sympathize with your plight. My daughter has embarked on this career choice and I was a little worried about how she would make a living too... that being said I do happen to know graphic artists who are being paid rather handsomely. Fiona do your home work and find out what both fine artists and applied artists are being paid then perhaps calmly and reasonably present this to your parents. Help them to see you have a NEED  to do this! If they love you they may get it but even if they don't get it, you are likely already an artist in your heart that will never leave you. Eventualy you will grow up and leave home being free to make your own choices so keep this close to you and pursue it then if its your only choice. I wish you all the best life can offer you. Laurie. 

The best course of action is to negotiate: talk to them about what they want for you, and try and reconcile that with what you want. Since it isn't clear what they want you to be, I'm assuming they oppose your decision because they think it's a "slacker" option. Remember, parents always want the best for their kids, and many fear their kids taking the "easy way out" in life. Try convincing them otherwise, showing them how art is a challenging and respectable field. Tell them you'll give it everything, you'll do your best and work hard and you'll be happy! At the end of the day, that's what all parents want. Do not give in to their choice of career, as you'll be miserable for 40 years until you retire, and you'll never forgive them. It's a bit like marriage, perhaps take that angle with them? Hasan.

I was kind of in the same situation as you. What I wanted to pick education wise, was not what my parents agreed with. They tried to talk me out of it, stop me but in the end I went over my choices for weeks, and I couldn't see myself choosing anything else. Once I made my decision, my parents had to except it and in the end they did. What I'm trying to say is sometimes you have to do what is right for you. What you want to do, even if it means disagreeing with the people you love. If you have taken your time to think about what you want to do and you really want to go for this art course, then go for it and don't let anything stop you. Think, if I don't take this then will I regret it later in life? Where do I want to go from here? I hope this has helped! Good luck, Lexi

Overbearing parents are really difficult to deal with. But you know, you don't have to do exactly what they want you to do in order to be a good daughter. If art is the thing that you love, that gets you fired up, you have to pursue it. Even if they won't let you take a class, draw or sculpt or paint as much as you can, read about your favorite artists. Passion is too rare to sacrifice for duty these days. That doesn't mean, I hasten to add, that you're entitled to blow up at your parents. I've tried that, and it never works. Try to remember whenever they tell you what to do, that they care about you and that's why they're so strict. You can tell them something like, "Art is very important to me. I believe I will be a great artist someday. I just don't think I'm built to be a lawyer or a doctor; and I may change my mind someday, but this is where my heart is. I would appreciate it if you'd respect that." If you want my opinion, they should be proud of you for your drive. Amber, USA

If you haven't already, sit down with your parents and ask them why they don't want you taking a vocational course on art. Your parents might think that artists don't have a substantial salary and they may want you to choose a career that pays good money instead. Your parents care about you and want you to be independent and support yourself, but seemingly at the cost of your own happiness. Ask them to see it from your side and tell them how much art means to you. If your parents don't understand and still forbid you from taking the course, then strike a deal with them. Stubborn parents are hard to crack, but sometimes the right proposition can help out your cause. Reach an agreement with them; for example, you can take your art course only if you receive high marks, or perhaps you can take your art course along with a course your parents want you to take. These are only ideas, but hopefully they will help! Blake.

Understandably, you want your parents to be proud of you as you do what you love to. Your parents want the very same thing, but their concern is, ultimately, your financial success. Will you in the end be okay or, hey! Far off better than where they are now? Will you be grounded enough to make a living off this? These are every parent’s questions and main goal. Surely your parents aren’t offended by beauty and vibrancy that art has to offer, and surely, they must see raw talent in you. They just might be afraid that in your pursuit for happiness, you end up living on the streets with paint in your hair. So rather consider your devotion to art alongside another career. You’ll put both your and their minds at rest with a detailed plan of action: i.e., becoming an art teacher or working at a museum, or whatever you think that can win their respect in incorporating art in your life. Then that vocational course on art will seem all right in their eyes as it’s your compass when you step out that door.  Zachary.

Fiona, if you really do want to follow this course you have to be passionate and willing and take some risks to do what you want to.
If a career in art is really what you want to do then go for it. If your parents won't let you, then you have to either explain it to them, and gain their permission, or just do it anyway.
If you still aren't sure that art is definitely the thing you want to do then maybe you should just do that course as a part time thing, and have something else, another course, going on in the background.
But whatever happens, don't let your parents trap you into something you don't want to do. Have your say, but if they disagree and it really is because that's what's best for you then move on. I think you should take your vocational course in art, go for it and try to prove them wrong, show them that you can make the right decisions for yourself. Mindy.

I'm sorry to hear that. But all is not lost. I think the best thing you can do is talk to your parents. I think people should work on what they like, because the money then will come easily. That is, if you study (or work), in something that you really like: you work harder. Someone who is passionate in what he does, is the best in it and therefore, does well in life. Your parents may be opposing because they are worried about your welfare, since living on art is difficult. You know your parents and yourself better than anyone, so if your desire to pursue art is so much that you are willing to work a time to pay on your own studies, I would say go ahead. If you think talking with your parents would not solve the situation, I would suggest that, like my brother, you study something that had to do with art, for example architecture or design. I hope I have been helpful and I hope you have a lot of strength to fight for what you want. Raquel.

She should do what she wants to do it's her life, not her parents. So yes she should do art, it doesn't work out, then try something else. Colin.

Thank you all for your replies.
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