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What to Do When Your Parents Don't Support Your Music Career

Updated on May 3, 2016

"Honey, we love you, and that's why we are trying to tell you that a music career is just...not...sustainable. I mean, how would you support a family someday?"

If you just winced, you likely have heard your parents make a comment like this before.

No matter the strength of your relationship with your parents, their opinions (whether positive or negative) mean something to you. Whether or not you and your parents usually get along, somewhere--deep down inside of you--you crave their approval.

Yeah, don’t try to deny it.

This subtle, but ever present need can be awesome when our parents are on board with our big ideas, but can be devastating when our parents don’t support the path that we choose to take.

For us musicians, this raises an (unfortunately) well-known question:

What should we do when/if our parents discourage us from pursuing a music career?

Whether or not you are just trying to figure this out or have already forged ahead in your musical ventures, here are five tips on how to navigate conflict between your parents and your musical dreams.

1. Know that your parents aren’t trying to make your life miserable.

“Ha. But Sarah, you don’t know my parents.”

True, BUT, I do know that most parents want their children to succeed in life! No matter how much it seems like your parents are out to snuff your dreams, remember how much they care for you and want the best for you. Yeah, they were young and starry-eyed once too.

Even though you might completely disagree with them, you can certainly appreciate the fact that they are genuinely trying to look out for you. True fact.

Your parents may be telling you you'll regret making music your career of choice.
Your parents may be telling you you'll regret making music your career of choice.

2. Listen to their concerns without interrupting.

I know your mom might be on a tangent about how she doesn't want her future grandbabies “starving while you try and eke out a living playing your guitar on street corners!", but listen to her. Really listen.

You’ll get your turn to talk. Let your parents share their hearts with you and don’t react in anger (it’ll just make things worse!).

Showing your parents that you care enough about them to hear them out will likely impress them and increase their confidence in your maturity (there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy strategy!).

3. Acknowledge any good points they make.

Just because you disagree with your parents doesn’t mean they might not be making some valid points!

Maybe it is a good idea to reevaluate the timing of dropping out of college to take a year long trip through SoCal with your ukulele and tip jar. :)

After letting them talk their piece, acknowledge any concerns you agree with. This will mean a lot to them!

4. Finally, share your heart with them (with a healthy dose of humility).

After asking your parents (in a non-snarky manner) if there is anything else they want to share with you, thank them for their input. Then, share with them your heart and vision for your future in the music industry.

Tell them why you feel called to pursue music, and show them how you will be able to use music to not only provide financial support for yourself (and those future grandbabies), but to enrich and bring meaning to your life and the lives of those around you.

It would help to give them some practical examples of how you have/can make a living in the music industry, and any future plans, goals or practical steps that you will take to get there!

Music opens you up to incredible opportunities and ways to enrich the lives of others.
Music opens you up to incredible opportunities and ways to enrich the lives of others.

5. Follow the calling on your life, but don’t burn bridges.

There's nothing more fulfilling than doing what you were made to do! However, you've gotta remember that careers come and go, but family is forever.

It’s cliché, I know, but true. Do all you can to maintain healthy communication and relationships with your parents, no matter if they agree with your career path or not.

That being said, you have the responsibility to yourself (and the world at large!) to follow the calling on your life. Being in the music industry is not for the faint at heart.

But, a music career provides you with the opportunity to freaking love your job every single day, and enrich the lives of those around you!

"The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers."

— Roy Ayers

I personally have been blessed with parents who have always supported my pursuit of a career in music, but perhaps that isn’t your story.

Whether or not your parents are on board or begging you to come to your senses and abandon your musical career path, you can interact with them in a way that will help them be confident that you are mature and inspired enough to be successful in the music industry.

Here’s to your success in one of the most awesome, fulfilling, and creative careers known to man!

Learn more about how you can become successful in the music industry!

Follow my musical adventures: Visit Sarah's Website

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Let me know what your experience is! How have you handled discussing your music career with your parents?

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