Family not reeeeeeally aboard

<p>Okay this a bit of a rant.</p>

<p>We just got back from visiting my dad and stepmom for a couple days.
They don't come right out and directly say "what the heck are you letting her do that for," but my stepmom did make some remark about doing something (as in getting a degree) "for fun" (as in not of use for anything else.)</p>

<p>Well, yes, we are quite aware that very few people actually make it big on Broadway or anywhere else, but, a lot of people work and support themselves in the field without ever being famous. AND, d does have an alternative and it's costuming. AND, should that not work out, well, she'll have a bachelor's degree which will make her just as competitive for any of those jobs that require a bachelor's degree in no particular especial area, as anyone else.</p>

<p>To be honest - we all know this - as an actress ages (maybe to some extend the guys too, but especially the girls) parts get harder to get: and everyone, everyone nowadays ends up with two careers over their lifetime, maybe three. People just don't do the same thing their whole life anymore. So even if she didn't go into performance she'd probably end up going back for something, some different training, perhaps a master's in something, at some point mid life. Who knows. So what is the difference between going back after having acted a while or going back after having done something else? Do they really think it's possible to go to school and get a degree in something that is guaranteed to not only get them a job right away but keep them in a job over the entire 55 or 60 years of their working life? And even if that were mostly guaranteed, what if they absolutely <em>hate</em> that field, or really have no aptitude?</p>

<p>It's back to that old "is it an education or is it job training" thing. Of course she needs to be able to do something to support herself. But if that were the only goal she could take one of the vocational courses at community college and in less than two years she could be a paralegal or dental hygienist and be making pretty good money and I do see ads for those jobs all the time. Being a dental hygienist or paralegal is a perfectly respectable and useful thing to be, and there is nothing wrong with going that route, if getting a decent career is the primary goal - but she wants a university education. And it's not like the option of becoming one of those things or any of the other things you can become with a year or two of vocational training isn't going to be open to her later in life; it's not as if she could never DO that just because she's choosing to go into a college theater program now.</p>

<p>Does getting a BA in business or marketing or communications or speech or any of the very popular liberal arts concentrations that would likely be what she would do, if she didn't do theatre, really carry THAT much more weight than any other liberal arts concentration for getting a really really REALLY good job anyway? (that's not rhetorical, I really don't know, but I have heard that quite often it might not necessarily) I'm sure those are very good all around degrees for any number of entry level positions that could, if the kid has the smarts to rise up and if it's not a crappy horrible company or one that folds in a few years, end up being successful - but couldn't one land most of those type jobs with a range of different BA's, and some of them pretty much any BA, anyway?</p>

<p>Isn't a super plummy high paying really top notch position going to want an MBA? Is there some shortage of MBA's out there or something that would render if possible for my daughter snatching an opening away, with a BA in business, from all the MBA candidates out there, if she just said "oh okay" and got a BA in business? </p>

<p>I guess what I am trying to say is they seem to think she's making a choice between degree in which you can NEVER get ANY job and degree with which you will most certainly get a job if you just have to get that degree, and I don't see it that way.</p>

<p>But they don't come right out and say this to us. But I know that my stepmom, at least, does not approve. My dad asked me what she could do other than Broadway and I told him there was regional theater, there were touring companies, there were cruise ships, there were lots of jobs other than Broadway, and that the schools nowadays are really making a concerted effort to get their graduates placed. I also told him she could costume and the line for those jobs is shorter.</p>

<p>Yes, it would be really nice if she decided she was going to become an engineer and take math and engineering. But since she a) doesn't like math or science all that much and b) isn't especially good at them, WHY do they think it's actually some kind of a viable alternative for her that she's turning up her nose at just for spite? You know if she decided to go into engineering she WOULD FLUNK out of college, I have no doubt she'd either flat out flunk or she'd struggle along barely making C's, and even if she did graduate, and managed to land a job, it's real likely she'd get fired.</p>

<p>She does not. have. that. aptitude.</p>

<p>I know that America is all about the MATHMATHMATHMATH omgMATH these days, and that's where everybody is putting their focus - our local school system slapped together a math and engineering preschool through 6th grade campus and follows them around from 5th grade on saying "You wanna do math? Math? Math anyone? Math? You guys wanna go into math, right? Math and Engineering? Right?"</p>

<p>It's not an option for her. This is what she wants to do. It seems like stepmom has the attitude that it's frivolous and there is something immoral about enjoying earning your college degree. She's just going to be paying a bunch of money so she can play around.</p>

<p>What if I said "look, it's a bad idea and you are going to do something SENSIBLE" and she got a degree in communications, and ended up with an okay life but not something she really loved that much or maybe even hated and was bored to death with, or maybe even failed rather miserably, financially speaking, anyway, and wondered all her life what would have happened if she'd given it a shot, and it would have been because someone with the power over her to do so, flat out told her "NO, you cannot pursue this dream." If I had a crystal ball and could absolutely know for an unquestionable fact, that pursuing theater would bring her misery and heartache and failure and unhappiness and that getting a BA in communication would bring her security and fulfillment and happiness and success, then of course I'd tell her to pick the BA in communication. But I don't know either of those things and neither does anyone else.</p>

<p>If she falls flat on her face in theater she'll brush herself off and go on to something else. She knows the odds. She knows she needs to be looking for what she wants to do if she doesn't become the next Laura Bell Bundy. </p>

<p>Why can't they have a little faith in her? </p>

<p>Am I doing her a disservice by not trying every minute of the day to dissuade her from trying this? I am asking this of the wrong audience, aren't I? lol.</p>

<p>BTW stepmother never finished college at all and she had various clerk and retail jobs until she became a real estate broker with my dad, and they have had pretty good financial success but she HATES her job. How is that any more a recipe for happiness than getting an education in something you love and then just seeing where it takes you?</p>

<p>How do you all handle the disapproval of family members who would much prefer your child to get a degree in something "they can use"? (and I not only have read but have printed out the 25 good as it is, not a big enough weapon to shoot down some people's wall of skepticism.)</p>

<p>When my (distant or extended) family asks how my kids are doing and what is up we usually have a similar talk. I keep it short by saying that many degrees today, including the one I had, are ABSOLUTELY NO SURE THING in the job market today... English, History, Sociology, Women's Studies for goodness sake. I am not saying those fields are not admirable, just not a guarantee for employment. There is a great thread somewhere where some of our usual/expert responders gave wonderful insight into the gift of MT beyond performance. I hope someone can find it!</p>

<p>ooo I think I found a link to one of the articles that talks about what can be done with a degree in theatre...</p>

<p>What</a> Theatre Majors Learn. What can you "do" with a theatre major? Plenty!!</p>

<p>First off, grandparents don't really get to decide what their grandchildren study in college. It is very debatable whether we, as parents, have much of a say either, but I guess that if we are paying we can try to exert some influence...</p>

<p>I think that you are particularly sensitive to your parents reaction to your daughter's choice of becoming a musical theatre major because you harbor some reservations yourself.</p>

<p>So this is the talk I give myself on the subject:</p>

<p>I am happy she has a talent/ passion and is pursuing it. </p>

<p>There are no guarantees in life and no one really knows what they will be doing 5 or 10 years from now.</p>

<p>If she doesn't nuture her talent now, she will probably never have the opportunity.</p>

<p>She will have plenty of time to go to graduate school and pursue a law degree (entertainment law??) or an MBA (music business??) if she chooses.</p>

<p>By studying music, she is creating a niche for herself which can be marketable: casting agent, producer, public relations/ marketing in theatre/ music / entertainment executive, etc..... </p>

<p>By challenging herself as a performer, she will be learning many marketable skills (public speaking, good interpersonal skills, etc.)</p>

<p>As a music major ( D is pursuing a BM degree in Vocal performance with a musical theatre concentration from NYU) she can get a master's degree in music education in a year.</p>

<p>She is attending a school that is highly rated and whose degree is worth something in the job market regardless of her major becasue it has high academic standards across the board.</p>

<p>She is able to pursue 2 minors and still graduate in 4 years (one in English and American literature and one in the Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology.) This makes her well rounded and prepared for many options.</p>

<p>She is able to balance both performing and internship experiences.</p>

<p>Who is to really say that she won't make it on Bdway? Or a national tour? Who can really predict now how theatre/ music will be a part of her life in the future?</p>

<p>And the most compelling reason: she is happy!</p>

<p>uskoolfish, I believe pretty much the same thing about my d's choice. </p>

<p>I just wish I could get that across to my parents because even though I really do believe that following her passion is the only right course for her to take, it's just annoying when I KNOW they are talking about it and Having Discussions amongst themselves behind my back About How I Are Am Spoiling Granddaughter By Letting Her Waste Her Degree On Something So Frivolous, shaking their heads and pursing their lips in disapproval; and also in the case of my family, it is entirely possible they are deciding not to surprise us with an offer to help out with college costs after all, as they don't wish to encourage something they think is a "mistake." le sigh. </p>

<p>Not that I think they owe any of us anything, and not that I had penciled in contributions from the grandparents in the college budget, and not that they haven't been very generous over the years even if they never give us another dime. But, I just know how they think. If they feel that this wealth they can choose to, or not to, use to help with d's college, was acquired by their decision to stick with tedious but lucrative daily grind, and she's not willing to make the same "sacrifice" like they did and pick something profitable over something fun, why should they give her money just so she can be irresponsible and just "have fun", which THEY didn't get to do. (well, actually they've had <em>plenty</em> of fun spending their money. Just not earning it.) And which, if that's how they see it, I can understand why they would rather resent helping out; I don't agree that d is wasting her time at all, but they don't see it that way, and I can't really do much about it.</p>

<p>It's just annoying when the parents disapprove even though I'm a grown up with grown up or almost grown up kids, myself. By sheer coincidence, my life choices over the past 20 years have met with their approval, and that's been rather nice. I don't make my choices based on that, it's just been as I said, coincidence that they have approved of my later years. (and no, they didn't approve of my earlier ones...hah.) So I've gotten rather used to it, and now it's back to the disapproval, as well as disapproval of d who they have always approved of up till now. But, obviously, I am not laboring under the delusion that my choices or my daughters need to hinge on what family members approve of or disapprove of, not when we know we are right about it. I am after all, an adult now, and have been for some time, and so on and so forth, and she is about to be too and it's her life and if she's going to live with a mistake it should be HER mistake, not someone else's. (though, I don't think she is making one. Not having a crystal ball, I can't say. Then again, what the hell is a "mistake" anyway...what if she tries and fails, she'll try something else. So what. She will have learned a lot. And what if she tries and succeeds? That's entirely possible too. She has as much a shot as anyone - if she were talentless, I would steer her towards something she was better at. But she's not.)</p>

<p>It's just that one does NOTICE, the disapproval, and it bugs a bit, even if intellectually I know better.</p>

<p>Stepmother's sister's oldest son is a genuinely good kid and sweet person but he made some REAL mistakes. The kind that come with a police record. However he's outgrown that and is going back to school. And though he hates math and isn't actually very good at it he's grinding it out to go into engineering.</p>

<p>I suppose they think I should force d to do like he is - but I can't. He's choosing to do that and she doesn't, and you can lead a kid to a degree program but you can't make them really be happy about it.</p>

<p>Also. We have been there and done that with child number one. He was a very compliant and docile child and didn't really have any objection to going into engineering. (although it wasn't actually his idea. Nobody knows what his idea was...nobody ever asked him, I don't think. It was more like "hey, you want to do engineering, right?" )So he went off to school all signed up for extremely hard math classes and guess what. He made straight a's in his music classes (he played french horn) and flunked math. So he came back home, and in his mid twenties is just now getting around to going back. He should totally have taken music. The family would have freaked out including husband because "you can't make a living" in music. You can't make a living flunking out of college because you tried to do something you weren't cut out for, (or quitting because you are bored and can't imagine doing THIS the rest of your life) either. Had he just gone into music, he'd at least be finishing up a degree around now and that would be better than not. He is now stuck with local community college and a much smaller range of degrees from which to pick, and it won't be music or engineering, but something probably like criminal justice. Which is fine. But the point is...everyone can't be an engineer. And, you have to let them do what it is they are cut out to do. And, if I had listened to my gut and told everyone to just let him do what he was good at and let HIM figure out what he wanted to major in, he'd have been better off, and I am not making the same mistake again.</p>

<p>It's a very risky thing, telling a creative person not to go into a creative field in order to assure job security. I feel like that is what they expect me to do: I can't do that.</p>

<p> mother in law is convinced my D will end up like Lindsay Lohan. "You know "all" actors are essentially unstable people." And, my personal favorite, "She will never get a husband because all male actors are gay or cheaters." We just smile and ask D to show Grandma her latest tattoo! You just can't argue with people like that - they have already made up their minds.</p>

<p>I definitely understand!</p>

<p>Actually I am quite shocked that my mother has been as supportive as she has, considering she has probably thought all of the above. However, to her credit, she really does have confidence that my D will be successful, is hard-working and that she makes good choices.</p>

<p>She has helped out with paying for tuition and has not in anyway tried to steer D's choices.</p>

<p>It's helpful to have others who at least understand the situation!</p>

<p>megpmom, I jokingly tell my daughter she needs to find a hobby, as an aside, that is very popular with straight men if she wants to "find a husband." And not just straight men, but straight men who make a lot of money. She said "so I can't marry a musician, then" and I said "HELL no, someone has to pay the bills!" She said "well then I don't even need to go to college in that case" and I said "oh yes you do, trophy wives need to have an education so they can make intelligent small talk at parties." hahaha.</p>

<p>As far as ending up like poor Lohan, my daughter is about the most sensible, head on straight, unmoved by foolish peer pressure child I've ever seen. That's one thing I'm really not concerned about.</p>

<p>We have been fairly fortunate in that everyone seems fairly supportive, at least on the surface. I think they all realize that a lot of us aren't doing any type of work related to what our degrees are in so once D has her degree, she can do other type of work than MT if necessary. I have to admit that I have had my doubts at times although I try to keep it to myself. My D has unbelievably expensive taste in clothing, vacations; heck - in everything! She seems to have no concept of budgets. If there is a sale, forget it! She will buy something ridiculously expensive and justify it with " but Mom- it was on sale for 40% off" . I am not sure how this girl will ever survive in the MT world. Like SnapDragon, we keep telling her she'd better find someone really, really rich to pay her bills and support her while she auditions!</p>

<p>takeitallin, we may share the same daughter;)</p>

<p>I met a nursing student in an ER yesterday...we joked about how she'll find a job long before my MT kid will...she said don't be so sure, nursing is way overcrowded. Funny thing is, she herself chose nursing over MT (she had been accepted to Tisch).</p>

<p>Nursing crowded? In my neck of the woods, there are never enough nurses. There has been a recognized nursing shortage for the last 20 years ...</p>

<p>I just don't want my kid wondering "what if" in 10 years. Hoping she'll minor in communications or something, however. I did give birth to one math loving engineer, however- so hopefully I have contributed to both the arts and the sciences!</p>

<p>Hey, at least it's her grandparents and not you, her parent who feels that way! :)</p>

<p>It stinks, but I think a lot of us expect that reaction when we tell people what our major (or desired major) is. I let it bother me at first when I had people, especially adults I looked up to, make "that face" and ask me what me back up was. But over time I learned to let it not get to me as much. We kind of have to, you know? It just... comes with the territory. :)</p>

<p>It can be wearying to deal with this kind of reaction, especially from family members or others with whom you are close. You want everyone to share in your kid's joy and excitement, not suck it out. My wife's parents are like that; if you are not a lawyer or doctor, you don't have a real profession. These reactions are so dopey though. The reality is that a BFA or BA in MT or theatre is just as legitimate as any other undergrad degree. Most people don't have the foggiest idea of the type and level of work that is required in a theatre program. Reading plays, script analysis, researching the history and sociology of the time in which a play was written or in which it occurs, exploring the psyche of the characters, theatre history as a reflection of society and culture, learning how to be part of a team that brings complex work to fruition, developing the skills to communicate, dealing with the demands of 12-14 hour days - hardly what I would consider fluff. Add to it the multitude of skills obtained through the discipline and creativity required in a theatre program. A student who graduates with a degree in theatre is every bit as capable of moving on to further professional or graduate education, if that is what is desired, as any other liberal arts major. And majors in other liberal arts programs are certainly no more prepared for "life" than theatre majors.</p>

<p>Even more important, our theatre students have spent 4 years in college pursuing a passion that brings great joy and gratification. It's a gift we give our children that they will own for the rest of their lives. When I see the light that beams from my daughter's face when she is performing, when she talks about how happy she is with the education she is getting and her life, that's all I need to know. Everything else, the future, will unfold with time as she pursues the paths to come with the confidence and sense of self that comes from what she is doing now. As to those who don't "get it", that's their problem. And when necessary, I let them know it. :)</p>

<p>GPMom- my D worked at 2 jobs this summer to save money for school. The problem is that one of them was at Anthropologie where she gets 40% - guess where her paychecks went?</p>

<p>Classical- I agree. I would never want these kids to do something else because it is more "practical" and then go thru life wondering if they could have made it. I say go for it and it will all work out. So few of us at 18 or 20 (or 50+) are so passionate about what we know we would like to do with our lives. These kids all have so much perserverance and drive that they will be successful with whatever they decide to do. Our older 2 are more traditionally practical- a teacher and an engineer. Then we have the MT major. And lastly, the 14 year old who is going to be a professional soccer player, and if that falls thru, his back-up is to be the head athletic trainer for the Lakers. That is a kid with his feet on the ground! We will all look back in 10-15 years and say "what were we ever worried about?"</p>

<p>And let's face it, it is not all just joy and passion and fun that our musical theatre kids are experiencing day by day.</p>

<p>They have grueling class schedules. Crazy rehearsal schedules. And still have to practice regularly. And let's not forget homework, papers and other assorted academic stuff.</p>

<p>Plus they have to deal with being judged and critiqued by their peers, professors and directors on a daily basis in class and out.</p>

<p>So for all those who think it is all fun and games, it's not! These kids need to be tough and become master jugglers in order to survive.</p>

<p>There are certainly easier routes to take!</p>

<p>I hear similar concerns when prospective students and their families come to visit the school. I tell all of them that the most important/marketable degree a student can achieve is the one they complete. Once you have the degree, no one can take it away and it grants you the credentials to move on with your education if that's what you choose later in life. </p>

<p>Yes, of course a degree in theatre includes many skills that translate well to different employment opportunities outside of performance. Unfortunately I have found that often skeptics view those as rationalization for an impractical choice. I choose instead to focus on the doors that a Bachelor's degree opens in general, training aside. </p>

<p>We can't predict the future and many of us are not as passionate about the same things as we were at 18. I see so much growth in students over four years; some stay with the major and some find that other interests emerge, but the ones who follow their passion finish the degree.</p>


<p>Such thoughtful responses - they are helpful, thank you. I imagine a regular poster on this forum who has not encountered my situation also, is not the norm, so hopefully this thread will be helpful to others also.</p>

<p>I'm sorry to hear that your family is "unaccepting" of your d's career choice for the moment. I can attest to people asking me all the time "Why aren't you majoring in something where you know that you will be financially secure?"</p>

<p>I've always been an arts kid. Always have, always will. I saw my first musical when I was 3, and my mom remarked, "You were enthralled by all of the performers onstage. You were completely quiet for those 2 and a half hours, eyes glued on them, never moving an inch. You could see the longing on your face." Whether it's been music, theatre, or even art class, I've ALWAYS pictured myself doing SOMETHING in the artistic field. </p>

<p>So many of my friends are sure about what they want to do with their lives: Engineering, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Doctor, Lawyer, Pediatrician,Psychologist, and Dentist. And many of these people I know wish they could pursue a degree in either music, music education, theatre, or musical theatre. But they are only choosing to pursue the other degrees because they are scared. They want financial security and stability. They want a perfect life and want to know that they will always be safe.</p>

<p>Someone asked me a couple of months ago, "What do you want to major in?"
I replied without hesitation, "Musical theatre. If that doesn't work out, some other field of theatre or perhaps even music therapy as a last option."
They responded, "Oh. Well, you know, I could really see you as a cute, little housewife!"</p>

<p>I have never wanted to cry so hard then in that particular moment. Why did it seem as if my dream of becoming a performer was so unattainable yet anyone who wanted to become a dentist automatically had a ticket to "SUCCESSFUL, FULFILLING, AND HAPPY LIFE" land? I felt that I deserved the exact same ticket as everyone else... </p>

<p>I, for one, wish that I COULD pick another degree and remain happy and move on. But that's not who I am. I'm a stubborn musical theatre girl. I get more thrill from watching a three-hour musical then partying on the weekends. I would rather stay home and listen to all of my Broadway albums then go to a concert downtown. I would rather hang out with my choir and theatre friends than my other friends. My whole life has been centered around THE ARTS.</p>

<p>If I were to change degrees, I think my whole life would fall to pieces. I really do. Frankly, if I don't make it into a BFA MT program, by God, I WILL be a part of the BA program and will repeatedly audition until I am a part of that BFA MT program. </p>

<p>Thankfully, both of my parents and grandparents, and all of my friends, are very supportive of my college decision. They understand that this is what truly makes me happy and that if I pursued anything else, I would be miserable. They believe in me.</p>

<p>As long as you believe in your D, that's all the support she'll ever need. I know that the love and support I receive from my parents touches me each time I think about the countless hours they have spent looking up colleges that are no more than a day's drive away (so they can see my in shows of course! :)). "The Map" up on our wall labeling all of the colleges we are looking at. The 2,100 miles my dad has spent driving my mom and I to 7 different states over a one-week period. The college visits they have scheduled and have fought with admissions to schedule. </p>

<p>Your D obviously has a great support system judging from the rant that you posted. Your words are truthful and honest and something that everyone can learn from. </p>

<p>Best of luck to you and your D for future endeavors in the MT world!</p>