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Stressed out by controlling parents - Please help!

Aloha927Aloha927 Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
edited July 13 in Parents Forum
I have this ongoing conflict with my parents which is spiralling out of control - I'm just so stressed and I don't know what to do! Sorry for throwing such a long chunk of text at you guys but I would really really appreciate any advice

So the situation is:
Just finished my first year of college. I attend an expensive private college which my parents are paying for; let's call it X. In high school, I played piano at a very high level (did national + international competitions). Parents initially refused to send me to X - they wanted me to attend a cheaper college near home where they could monitor me better (they are very strict/controlling and say they don't trust me). They eventually gave in after a lot of persuasion, provided I meet their conditions - one of them is they want me to pursue piano professionally alongside doing all of my academic work. I don't want to be a pianist (I'm interested in tech/cs) and I don't really enjoy piano, but I agreed since X is my dream college - I'd basically do anything to go there.

But I think it would be better for both of us if I reduced the amount of piano I do (time reasons for me, especially since X is so academically demanding, and money reasons - lesson fees etc - for them). So I explained to this to them and asked them if it would be ok if I reduce the amount of piano I do. This was absolutely disastrous - they kept threatening to stop paying my tuition!

Now, I know I made a deal when they let me go to X and I can't win when they pull the tuition card, so I should probably tough it out til I graduate. The thing is, they are also forcing me to pretend to like piano - they shut me down with the tuition card if I even try to hint that I'm not enjoying the amount of piano I do. Worse, now that they are moving to a different state, they are seriously considering buying a small apartment in my hometown, just so that I can continue taking lessons with a teacher there that they like. This seems really crazy to me - why would they do this when I've already told them that I don't enjoy piano?! I know I should tell them again because I'm worried that they'll actually go through with it and waste their money, but I'm just so so scared that they'll actually withdraw my tuition this time.

And then they complain to me that I'm not improving because "my heart isn't in the music". I just don't know what to do anymore. It seems like they want to force me to like piano - but I can't force myself to like piano even if I wanted to. All of this is making me resent piano tbh, which is sad.
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Replies to: Stressed out by controlling parents - Please help!

  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN Registered User Posts: 2,407 Senior Member
    It seems like you need to stick with your plans for your new major but recognize that your parents may not keep paying your tuition at the school they are currently sending you to. X can't really be your dream school if you are forced to major in something there you don't want to major in. Doesn't sound like you are living the dream.
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 910 Member
    edited July 13
    The problem is that you made the pact. You should have thought about your priorities before making the pact. Your parents are keeping their end of the bargain; you now don't want to -- AFTER you made the pact. Can't you double major in piano and something in tech/cs that you love? How miserable do you think you'd be by continuing to play piano? Your heart may not have been with piano because of your pushy parents, but is it possible to make it your own interest? Piano, after all, was never the fault to begin with.
    Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,861 Senior Member
    Sorry, you cannot win unless you are willing to drop out of college and are able to get a job that pays enough for you to live independently. They control your college choice through the money. It does not matter whether anyone here approves or disapproves of your parents' actions.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,329 Senior Member
    Are you currently a piano major, or is that something you are doing in addition to your academic studies?

    Do you have a clear understanding of why your parents want you to pursue piano professionally? Are there any other careers thT they respect?
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 21,014 Senior Member
    Just go to those lessons, but stop practicing if you don't have time. Your parents wouldn't know. Once you are out of school there is not much they could do. To be honest, I think if you were to tell your parents you will no longer play piano they would still continue to pay for your tuition. It is a game of chicken. I would call them a bluff.
  • Aloha927Aloha927 Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    edited July 14
    Thank you guys for all of the advice!

    So just to clarify, my parents are letting me choose my major, but want me to pursue piano professionally in addition to my academics. In the future, I think they would fine with me having a job in tech, as long as I also play piano professionally - ie give concerts, make recordings, etc.

    @happymomof1 I think they are so intent on me becoming a pianist because they think I am talented at piano, so it would a waste of talent if I were to quit. While I agree with this to some extent, I don't think it's worth all the time and money needed if I'm not interested in it.

    @techmom99 Unfortunately I don't think I'm close enough with my piano teacher to do that. I'm taking private piano lessons at the moment. My parents often demand to skype while I'm practicing so that they can monitor my progress and check I'm actually practicing. I'm hoping I can reduce how frequently they do this though.

    At the moment, I'm thinking the best course of action is probably just to do the minimum needed to meet their conditions as @techmom99 suggests ( @oldfort I think unfortunately there's at least a significant chance they will yank my tuition if I don't). I'm worried about what this will do to my relationship with them when they find out the truth after I graduate, but I guess it's more important to make sure I can stay in school right now.
  • 3js3ks3js3ks Registered User Posts: 56 Junior Member
    I can't even imagine having a child that I am dictating every move they make. I would suggest you do the minimum you can get away with that makes them happy but also don't lose your own goals in the process. It is hard when they are holding the purse strings but don't want to let you choose your own path. If you can handle the added piano stress at least it keeps you from having heavy debt when you graduate, or you having to switch to a school you don't want to be at. You are in a tough spot and it doesn't look like your parents will bend for you, you have to decide how much piano you can put up with.
  • GnocchiBGnocchiB Registered User Posts: 1,631 Senior Member
    @Aloha927 I echo the advice to treat piano playing as the job you are using to "earn" your tuition money.

    When you go back in the fall, it might be helpful to you to have a few appointments with someone at the mental health center, just so you can get help with managing your stress and anxiety around this very upsetting issue. You are in a difficult position and I'm sorry your parents are being so unreasonable. As a parent, I would never put my child in the position that your parents have put you into.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • TQfromtheUTQfromtheU Registered User Posts: 921 Member
    edited July 14
    Goodness! My phone would be off a lot more. Forced Skyping? That's too much. I agree with considering the piano lessons and minimal practice your job in exchange for money for college, while keeping your academics your priority. Keep telling yourself, it is a temp job that pays very well.

    Oh, and stop the conflict, as much as you can from your side. They seem to be very clear what they expect/demand. Let there peace and go to school.
  • sensation723sensation723 Registered User Posts: 478 Member
    Do you earn money playing the piano? I know some times competitions have cash prizes. If so maybe your parents are using that money to supplement your tuition. At least I hope that's the reason your parents are being so controlling.
  • missbwith2boysmissbwith2boys Registered User Posts: 365 Member
    You have a tough three years ahead of you! You've gotten some great advice. Just hang in there and don't lose sight of your own goals. Try to let the turbulence from the piano side of things roll of your back - counseling at the student health center is a great suggestion. Three years may seem like forever at this point, but I'd stick with college and work towards graduation.

    So sad for you that your relationship with your parents is so strained. That's on them. Counseling will help clear things in your own mind so you can find the strength to make it through the next three years.
  • Aloha927Aloha927 Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    edited July 14
    Thank you guys for all your support and advice - I really appreciate it. As a lot of you guys have suggested, thinking of piano as a job sounds like a good idea - I'll definitely try that. Making use of mental health resources when I'm back at college sounds useful too.

    @ClassicRockerDad haha that's a sneaky idea. My parents like to skype in real time but I might try that if they ask for videos

    @sensation723 No it's not about the financial aspect. I'd understand a lot better if it were though.
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