General Question

Feta's avatar

Would you ever try to discourage your child from achieving his/her dreams?

Asked by Feta (907 points ) March 12th, 2014

My parents are constantly trying to discourage me and I want to understand their logic because when I’ve asked them why they just say, “We just want you to be realistic.”

My “dream” isn’t completely outlandish. I just want to go to school at NYU and be a successful journalist preferably working for Rolling Stone. The reason is because I’ve been writing my entire life and making stories since before I even knew the alphabet.
I’ve always excelled in Literary Art and in elementary school, every year my essays were featured in contests in which I almost always won first place. I just love writing…and people love my writing!
And I also love music. You can’t shut me up about rock music so I figure…what better than to have a job where I get to write about music?

But my parents keep jabbing at my aspirations saying that they’re illogical and that NYU is too much money and why don’t I go to a local college because with my ACT scores, I could go for free. My stepmom went on a tirade about how journalists only make a median income of around $40,000 and that’s how much tuition is at NYU and how I won’t ever be able to pay off my student loans and how I probably won’t even be able to get a student loan because there are limits on them and when she went back to college a few years ago the limit for a student loan was like $7,000.

This is my logic: I’ll get as many scholarships and financial aid as I possibly can to knock as much money off the $160,000 student loan debt as possible. Then, if I get a job soon after college (which in NYC, I could possibly intern for a successful magazine and maybe they’d hire me after I graduated?) I would probably make around $50–60,000 and I can get a roommate to help with rent while paying $1,500 towards the loans and $100 into a savings account every month. Given the loans (before any financial aid or scholarships are deducted), that would have me paying off the debt in about 9 years (probably less).

What’s illogical about that?

My English teacher is always telling me she has high expectations for me because my writing is so good. I mean, I share my dreams with my friends and instructors and they strongly encourage me to go the route of journalism. I’ve even had a peer tell me that I have a “gift” when it comes to writing.

However, my parents discourage it and want me to choose a major that’s “safer”. I can understand concern for my future, but the amount of discouragement coming from them is extremely upsetting…mostly because they’re my parents and they don’t really think I’m good enough to be a successful journalist.

Honestly, I’ve let them read some of my work and they actually sat there and laughed in my face and said it was “weird” while my accredited (and very tough) English teacher called it “beautifully written” and compared some of my diction to E.B. White.

I know I’ve rambled on about my own situation, but would you ever try to inhibit your child from doing what they love or be where they felt they belonged?
If so, do you agree with my parents and their discouragement? Or, if not, what could be my parents possible motives and who should I believe- my parents who don’t think I’m good enough or my teachers and peers who think I’d make an excellent journalist?

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24 Answers

ninjacolin's avatar

You will never be rid of the desire to attain your parents’ support. Never.
Even after you’ve betrayed their advice and successfully achieved your goal and paid off all your debts. There will likely never be a day when they say: “Sorry darling, we were wrong to discourage you. We erred on the side of caution and surely.. we were wrong.”

Point is, your parents have no clue what the best route for you will be. Their suggestions could be right or they could be wrong. Either way, they’re not making any apologies. So, just do what you want: you’ll suffer just the same but at least you’ll feel more satisfied with your sense of autonomy.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ninjacolin is right. At some point you have to chase your own dreams. Sometimes when we get older, we have a little too much reality and not enough dreaming. It doesn’t hurt to be practical and think through your decisions, financial and otherwise, but in the end it’s your decision to make, good or bad (if they aren’t paying.)

johnpowell's avatar

Then, if I get a job soon after college (which in NYC, I could possibly intern for a successful magazine and maybe they’d hire me after I graduated?) I would probably make around $50–60,000

This is a pipe dream.

You are going to have to start at the Nebraska Daily Corn unless you are NBA lucky. This might be the only time I ever suggest that someone watches “Girls” on HBO.

ragingloli's avatar

That depends entirely on the dream. I will oppose anything that I find unethical, or evil.
For example, I would definitely discourage it to become some sort of mercenary or missionary, or soldier.

Winter_Pariah's avatar

Honestly, I probably would at some point because A) I generally dislike munchkins, B) I’m an asshole and C) I’ve noticed I’ve taken up too many characteristics of my parents who were a pair of abusive jerks (which scares the shit out of me) and well, they did that to me.

janbb's avatar

Why don’t you take it one step at a time? Tell your parents you are applying to NYU and also the local state schools. Go all out – with the help of your English teacher and/or supportive guidance counselors – in trying to apply for every scholarship you can find. When you see if you get in and what kind of numbers you are talking about, then you, and your parents, can make an informed decision. Nobody knows where their dreams will lead but practical steps and some independent action may make it a reality.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

What do you parents do for a living? I’m just curious if they achieved their dreams or settled.

GloPro's avatar

You know, in hindsight I wish I had gone to community college for my AA and then transferred into a University. It would have saved me thousands and my B.A. Degree is still from a University. Maybe there is a compromise there for you to consider.
Other than that, ignore the pessimism of your parents. Your dreams/goals sound perfectly attainable and reasonable to me. Go for it!
For many people money and salary are not the ultimate goal. How cool would it be to follow and interview musicians and enjoy a job that you excel in!

snowberry's avatar

I suggest you have a plan A, a plan B, a plan C, and so on. NYU is a nice goal, but it might be a good idea to use NYU for a master’s degree if things don’t work out. You can’t predict the future, so be sure you can take care of yourself before you make any commitments to your dream.

@GloPro made a good point.

rojo's avatar

My daughter wanted to go into modeling. She had the looks but I couldn’t support her, I had a bad feeling about the entire field. n I felt that more people got screwed than succeeded and she was nice and naive enough to get taken advantage of.

She had several friends that signed up with various agencies that came through or had shows in “The Mall”. Despite the money they put up and the “portfolios” they were provided, etc. nothing ever came of it for any of them.
I think she finally forgave me for not allowing (or at least monetarily supporting) her to follow her“dream”.

GloPro's avatar

A show of hands for those of us that actually use our degrees in the professions we ended up in? Anybody? Maybe that one hand in the back. I think it was your mom. Stand up and define a “safe” major for us, please.

hearkat's avatar

@GloPro – I’m pretty sure that variations of that question have been asked numerous times on Fluther, because I recall answering it a few times and I can answer in the affirmative. However, I changed schools and majors a few times. I am also an advocate of saving money by going through Community College the first two years.

My son loves basketball and he is naturally athletic, but while the males in my family are over 6’, the other side of his family is not as tall. I told him that although a few people under 6’ have made it in professional basketball, there are very few that have and only when they had incredible talent and worked really hard to prove themselves. I couldn’t discourage him, though, and hoped that maybe it could help him get into college or something.

I went broke sending him to prep school and travel teams, and he got a taste of how competitive it is even on the High School level. It became a chore to him, so he let that dream go while still in High School. He still loves shooting around and playing pickup games, though. It makes me sad because he never found anything else that he felt so passionate about, but I have no regrets.

Cruiser's avatar

I would say both your parents and the teacher could be speaking truths about your writing and aspirations. Wanting to write for Rolling Stone is the Mount Everest of writing pop culture and the competition is going to be beyond fierce and you will have to be at the top of your game to even have a remote chance to make that dream come true. If you are as good as you think you are you should have lots of awards, published pieces and at the very least a blog about music with lots of followers by now.

Get some other professional reviews (second and third opinions) of your writing skills before you make a big time commitment to this dream of yours. And if they come back favorable then you have something more to show your folks that you have what it takes to pursue this dream of yours! Good luck!

dxs's avatar

The least you can do is apply to NYU to see if they’ll accept your application and give you money. Try to be open-minded about things.

zander101's avatar

In hindsight, understanding now that my parent’s mentality of ideas and pursuits was incredibly hindered based on their conditioning, associations and environment. I wouldn’t hinder any child on pursuing any dreams that they may have, @KNOWITALL was right as when you do get older reality trumps over aspirations, and some adults let that perception consume them, some to the point where it reflects and intercedes their present tense.

snowberry's avatar

Could your parents also be concerned that somehow you could end up in trouble financially and they’ll have to bail you out? That would be a real concern to me if it was my kid trying for this dream. I also wouldn’t be thrilled about a parent loan to put my kid through NYU.

rojo's avatar

@GloPro I actually did. I changed my major from Environmental Design to Building Construction (What is now called Construction Science) and spent 32 years in construction (after a 5 year hiatus as a Product Engineer). but truthfully, I could have done just as well by working in the field.

whitenoise's avatar

I suggest to look into mixing the ideas. Start at a cheaper / free college and then move to a more fancy university after a while. This will safe you money.

Saving money creates future freedom of choice for you.

To get back to your question… I would/will at time not support my children’s dreams. Mostly those that would stop them from reaching their true potential. I do think I have a better view of that, then they have themselves. (When I was eighteen, all I truly wanted was work in a bar. In retrospect I wish I had some more guidance.)

In the end you will likely regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you failed in.

Some dreams, however, are in the way of the things you don’t realize you want, yet. (Your) parents need to find a balance between guiding you and letting you go. Either way they should encourage you to become the best of your potential.

Choose wisely….

Cupcake's avatar

I’m all for community college. Really. I went that route. I have no student loans and received an excellent education. But I don’t think that route will be appealing to someone who has their sights set on a very well-known, well-respected, urban university.

You miss out on a lot when you transfer schools. For many, it is worth it. But not for all.

My kid wants to be a musician. Now, sure, he could go to CC for 2 years and transfer to a bigger school… but he’d be missing out on a long-term mentor, private lessons, the on-campus experience, the big ensembles, etc. He’ll earn crap when he graduates (probably), but I still think a 4-year state school is the way to go.

It sounds like you have a great plan. I doubt it will work out perfectly, as they usually don’t… but you don’t need to let that get in your way. Have back-up plans and put one foot in front of the other.

Feta's avatar

See, I’m sick of people saying I won’t achieve my dreams because I need to be “at the top of my game” right now.

I’m 17 years old and I’m expected to already be a professional.

I took classes at an art camp (at an art school) over the summer and the professors expected us to already have experience and connections in the art community and work in exhibits.

I don’t think Rob Sheffield had a music blog and cult following at the age of 17.

And the implied message is that the dream is practically unattainable so trying would be fruitless. I don’t expect it to be a cakewalk, but I doubt people that are famous and successful now gave up on what they wanted to do because it was difficult to achieve.

Feta's avatar

I don’t have a problem with community or local colleges.
I think community college is great if you’re looking to get a degree for as little money as possible and just get a job.
The only reason I don’t want to go to a local (and cheaper) college is because there is a lack of opportunities for journalists where I live.
Journalism is ruthless and, from what I understand, it’s difficult to move up the career ladder.
In New York, I could make connections and have a better chance of getting the job I really want.

I’m seriously determined…my parents settled in life and I refuse to settle.

Cruiser's avatar

@Feta You have the right attitude…so now go make it happen! Good luck and can’t wait to see you on the cover of the Rolling Stone!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Feta I second what Cruiser said. My mother was supportive of me in selecting a college. The guidance counselor tried to tell me I’d never get into the college of my choice. I showed her. It was tough at times, but I’ve got that diploma.

rojo's avatar

My wifes parents told her (and she was a straight A student in high school) “Show us you can make the grade at a Junior College and we will pay for your education in whatever University you want to attend.

She did, and they did.

Caveats: (1). She knew what they were capable of affording without going into debt and chose a 4-year university that she knew they could afford. (2). She did her homework and loaded her Jr. College years with coursed she knew would transfer to the University she wanted to attend. (3). She also worked during her entire University to help pay for the “extras” that she “needed” while living away from home on her parents dime.

Please bear this in mind as you go toward your goal. And, good luck. The world needs more good journalists.

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