You want your child to lead a happy and successful life. How you interpret success and happiness may vary widely, however. How your child interprets these words and the feelings represented by them may vary even more.
For many families, success is defined in terms of financial success, but even financial success can mean a lot of different things as well.
What parent wants to see their child struggle to pay the rent or put food on the table?
It may not be that your vision of financial success means your child having a six-figure income, but it probably includes them living on their own without needing regular influxes of cash from Mom and Dad in order to survive.
So what happens if your child comes to you and tells you that they want to be an artist? What thoughts begin racing through your head?
Are you excited glad that they have something they’re passionate about, knowing that their talent will carry them? Or are you concerned that they’ll be living in a hovel and face daily struggles for safety and survival?
For hundreds of years, parents have had to face the idea of their children pursuing the arts. Despite the risks, parental protests, and even the threat of being financially cut off, many of these children still choose to follow their hearts.
Some artists have a passion for the arts, but aren’t able to pursue their dreams until later in life. Other children are determined to follow their dreams earlier, with or without parental support or approval. Parents may disapprove entirely of a career in the arts or may only approve if their child fits within a specific mold.
Paul Gauguin followed several careers in order to first please his family and then his wife’s family. He had to return to painting full-time several times in his life. It was in his nature and part of his core being that had to be expressed despite the challenges that it created.
Painter Édouard Manet’s father was adamantly opposed to his son having a career in art to the point where Manet left for Paris to pursue his dream while still in his teens.
Singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson’s parents disowned him when he turned down a position to teach literature at West Point in order to devote himself to songwriting.
Katy Perry fashioned her musical career even though it still isn’t in harmony with her parents’ religious careers as evangelical Christian pastors and musician Miles Davis wasn’t met with approval of his choice in career. It was just that his mother thought he ought to play a stringed instrument rather than the trumpet. His father hoped he would become a dentist.
Fortunately, all of these artists persevered and have created art that’s influenced countless others and these are only a few examples.
Will your child struggle and suffer? Will their career soar or flounder? Is it a good idea for them to have a Plan B in case their art career fails? Or would it be smart for them to take another job and pursue music in their free time? Would a job in the field or something related to their field be as fulfilling and safer?
You can’t know what the absolute best path for anyone else is even if that other person is your own child. What you can do is tap into your Internal Guidance System (IGS) and encourage your child to tap into theirs as well in order to help discover their best path.
Whether your child will becomes rich and famous in their lifetime is uncertain. Are the odds in their favor? Maybe not. If you worry about it, it probably won’t make one bit of difference. And if you encourage your child to abandon their dreams in exchange for financial security, they may never find the one thing you want them to find in life: happiness.
If you can leave your personal preferences aside and let joy be your guide, then you’ll find the right path. Passing this ideal onto your prospective artist is the best thing you can do for them.
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