Dilemma: I seem to have overstepped my bounds and now don’t know how to pull back.
Here’s the problem. My 23 year old granddaughter, with a college degree in advertising and marketing, by the way, decided that she really wanted to pursue an acting career. Her parents weren’t supportive, insisting she get a job and use her degree to the fullest.
Jobs are hard to get, but she did get something in her field, but hated it. She was miserable. She asked me if I could support her for just a year so she can go for her dream of acting.
Against my son’s wishes, I agreed to give her what my husband and I are allowed, $28,000 tax free for the year. (My husband also disagreed but went along with me.) And so she quit her job and took off for New York, where she’s been staying with a cousin and trying to make her way in theater.
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Sadly, after 14 months, it’s not working out. The world wasn’t waiting for her. She’s upset but doesn’t want to give up and come back home. Problem is, she’s out of funds and we won’t step in.
I’ve already done enough damage, and my son has been very vocal in letting me know. Now my granddaughter is angry with me too, saying one year wasn’t enough and I should continue on with our help.
What a mess I’ve made. Any advice? I’m between a rock and a hard place.
Meg’s Answer: Well, Grandma. First, a gentle reprimand for interrupting her parents’ guidance, which should never have been done. You know that, even though you wanted her to have her chance while she’s young and unattached. I get it.
But now….she’s had her chance. Acting, like dance and music, is the hardest mountain to climb, with just a fraction of all wanna be’s actually “making it.” She can decide to spend the rest of her formative years, and beyond, struggling to do so, if she really wants to. But now it’s entirely up to her….on her own.
Is she passionate enough to get some jobs waiting tables, babysitting or bartending to support her craft? Let’s see. Some of the stardust gets mighty dusty when the trip itself is so difficult. You’ve got to have the blindsided passion to work it.
Or maybe, just maybe, her cousin will allow her to room a little longer while she goes for a marketing job in the advertising and marketing capital of the world. She has her degree….time to put it to use?
All you can do right now, along with her parents, is to be sympathetic and emotionally supportive while encouraging her to readdress her career potential. Even if she has to start at the bottom of the ladder, as most of us do as we enter our career path, perhaps she can set her sights on something that would be satisfying while utilizing her creative talents. You can take a lot…nights, weekends, bad bosses, low pay, while working towards something you really want.
As to her being angry at you, instead of being eternally grateful… I have a huge problem with that. Perhaps this sense of entitlement needs to be dissipated with some down home humility, if you’ll allow her to feel it. Surely her father will, and there’s where you can help.
You shouldn’t be between a rock and a hard place, but standing shoulder to shoulder with her parents. You gave her the opportunity she begged for. What a special Grandma. Now let her learn how to be special on her own, as difficult as it may be for you.
I promise it will help her on the humble scale, which I believe one needs to step on in order to become a kind and functional human being. Oh the lessons we learn.
Meg Green, CFP, is a wealth manager with offices in Aventura.