What to do when your parents don’t support you becoming an artist

I was one year into my Biology degree when I realized my passion in life was art. However, I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of me being an artist. If you’re on the same boat, keep reading. Let’s go over what you can do when your parents don’t support you becoming an artist and how to turn things around.

When I told my mother I wanted to drop out of Biology to become an artist, she refused. She offered to let me switch to a different degree, but not to quit college to learn to draw and become an artist. 

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How your parents can keep you from chasing your art dreams

If you're still young or living with your parents, there's a chance they won't be too keen to hear you want to become an artist. They may be afraid that it won't be a profitable career, that you'll always be strapped for money and they surely want a better life for you. 

But, no matter how honorable their intentions are, they have the means to keep you from becoming an artist.

For example...

A)  They control the money

It’s very hard, if not impossible, to chase after your dreams when you have zero cash flow and you depend on your parents or other adults to take care of you.

Since they’re responsible for supporting you financially, they’ll make the decisions for you when it comes to your future. They may take your opinions into account but they’ll filter them through their “what’s best for my child” perception and decide based on that.

For example, my mom was okay with letting me switch to another degree, it passed her filter. Having a degree of any kind was the key to passing her test.

“I want to be an artist” generally triggers all kinds of red codes when it passes through parents' filters. It did the same with my mother.

Since your parents control the money, they can keep you from enrolling in a degree or a class of your choice. Plus, if you’re young or unemployed, getting a loan will also be very hard.


B)  They have the authority

Similarly, you may be familiar with “My house, my rules” or “As long as you live under my roof, you’ll do as I say”. These are as old as time itself.

Your parents have the authority and they call the shots when it comes to your future and your education, at least until you’re able to leave the nest.

This can feel like you’re trapped in a prison and you’re not allowed to be your most authentic self. Deviating from their path for you is a no go.

Boy do they seem to want to live their lives through you.


C)  They don’t think you know what you want out of life

When you grow old you gain experience and you start seeing things differently. You’re able to see certain events for what they truly were: mistakes. And upsetting limitations as actually good advice from someone who cared for you.

Furthermore, your parents went through the same you’re going through right now and they were able to learn from it. They want to help you avoid the same mistakes they did but in doing so, they commit the same mistake their parents did: thinking you don’t know what you want out of life.

So, they decide for you. “One day you’ll understand and you’ll be thankful”. But nobody learns from others’ experience. You have to make the mistakes to learn they were mistakes.

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How to convince your parents to support you becoming an artist

If you want to have your parents support, pouting and smashing Linkin Park in your room won’t do. Instead, there are a few steps you can take to change your parent’s minds and gain their trust and support.

But first, let’s start by changing YOUR mind.


Reframing your perception

The first thing you need to realize is that this isn’t a war with your parents. If you have a relatively normal family, chances are your parents have spent many years taking care of you and loving you. They shouldn’t have any reason to try to make you unhappy or do things out of spite.

Think of what your parents are telling you and let’s reframe your own perception. Remember that filter parents have? You have one of your own, too. And it’s time to fine-tune it so that you can better understand what’s being said in those conversations with your parents.


A call from love

A friend of mine recently told me “Everything someone says is a call for love, or a call from love”. And he couldn’t have been more right.

Think of what your parents are telling you when they refuse to let you become an artist and now reeeeally think of what they’re actually saying.

  • What comes up for them when you tell them you want to be an artist?
  • Do they have any reason or ulterior motive for wanting you to be unhappy or unfulfilled in your life?
  • Is there any experience in their life that could be causing them to worry about your future if you decide to become an artist?

My mom’s refusal to let me drop out was a call from love, hoping to keep me on the right path to have a safe, stable future with a nice job.

Walk a mile in their shoes

She had been working since she was 13 years old to sustain herself and her family. Working hard relentlessly to survive. Higher education was a privilege she never had but those she worked for had degrees and PhDs, and with those came the expensive houses, fancy cars, and more money than they knew what to do with.

When I told her I wanted to be an artist, she saw my future through the lens of a person who had worked all of her life to ensure I had the chance to get higher education and have the life she never had.

She didn’t want me to give that up for the dream of being a starving artist.

But, she loved me and wanted me to have a good life. Whether I became a Biologist or an artist had little impact on her life. Seeing me struggle with poverty was a whole other story.

That’s why she refused to let me go down that path. She couldn’t bear with me going through the same hardships as she did.

How are your parents’ past experiences showing up when you talk to them about being an artist? There’s a lesson in everything if only you’re willing to see it.


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Reframing your parents’ perception

Now that you’ve looked deeper into your parents’ experiences and what’s driving them to keep you from becoming an artist, let’s see what steps you can take to turn things around.

 1.  Find their objections against you becoming an artist

Find what the objections your parents have against art are and write them down. Now think of action steps you can take to show them that their fears are unfounded and that you’ve got what it takes to succeed.

Some objections may be…

  • You can’t make a living from your art. Who’d pay for that? You’ll end up having a day job that pays poorly to fund your art. Starving artist alert!
  • It’s not a stable career with a steady paycheck. You’ll always live in fear not knowing if you’ll make any money next month.
  • Almost every artist has carpal tunnel or any other illness related to art and then it’ll be too painful do your job.
  • People won’t take you seriously if you’re an artist, it’s not a reputable job.

2.  Overcome their objections with facts

What action steps can you take to help your parents overcome their fears and objections? If you slowly but surely show them that there’s nothing to be afraid of, they’ll begin to let you take ownership of your future.

Some action steps you can take are…

  • Start selling commissions or offering your art services to clients. Once they see that people are paying for your services, they’ll stop seeing art as such a risky career.
  • Build systems to keep a steady stream of clients coming so you never have to experience the ‘feast and famine’ cycle of having many clients one month and none the rest. When you have clients coming and returning, your parents will let go of the fear that an art career isn’t stable or your income unpredictable.
  • Show them you’re not winging it, practice everyday, learn new strategies to draw, attract clients or take proper care of yourself so that you don’t end up with a serious health condition derived from your activity as an artist.
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3. Embrace your decision to become an artist

If you take the time to help them reframe their perception but it still doesn’t work, you have to embrace your decision and let them know.

Kindly tell them that living a life that is true to yourself and where you can live authentically is important to you.

If they love you and support you, they’ll give you a vote of trust. They may not approve of your choice but they may not get in your way.


4. Moving on if your parents don't support you becoming an artist after all

If nothing works, if they continue to stop you from becoming an artist and following your dreams. You need to move on.

While you depend on them, you’ll need to abide by their rules but that doesn’t mean you can’t honor your choices and true calling.

I still had 5 years of Biology ahead of me before I could even have a chance to attend art school. But I didn’t just give up drawing for half a decade. No way, Jose.

I spent every spare moment I had drawing and improving my skills. As long as I got good grades, my parents didn’t mind me drawing in my free time.

And by the end of it, I had a Biology degree under my belt and great drawing skills.

I was finally free, I had completed my degree and my mom fulfilled her end of the deal. I could now go to art school if I wanted to.

If you can’t overcome your parents objections against art, do what you must until you’re able to live on your own. Once you’re able to get a job and support yourself financially, they won’t be able to tell you what to do or what not to do.

Over to you: What can you do to get your parents to approve of you becoming an artist?

If your parents don’t support your art goals, look deeper into why they feel this way. Is there any past experience that may be causing their restlessness about your choice? What are they truly saying when they disapprove of your dream of being an artist?

Identify their objections and find ways to slowly overcome them and show your parents that they have nothing to be worried about. Show them that you’re prepared and have everything under control.

If they still refuse to support you, have a conversation with them, let them know it’s truly important to you to live an aligned life that is true to yourself and that it’d meant the world to you to have their support.

But, be prepared to abide by their rules until you’re able to live on your own if nothing works and you can’t help them see that becoming an artist is a valid career option.


Did you find this article helpful? Let me know in the comments below if you decide to try any of the tips I shared to help your parents support your dreams of becoming an artist!


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About Lucia

I'm Lucía and I help creative people embrace their passion for art and empower them to become the artists they always wanted to be. I work with growing artists to help them unleash their potential, improve their skills and protect their art.


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