Our family has just begun navigating the college exploration process. My son is actively researching various schools for programs heavy in the arts — film, screenwriting, directing. We, as parents committed to bankrolling (at least in part) his higher education, are studying our income flow and funds management to see how to make his dream work without crippling our family’s future. From day one, I’ve voiced unequivocal support for my son’s pursuit of his dreams. Whether it was Broadway or Wall Street, I let him know that I’d be behind him no matter what. Now, however, I find myself examining my parenting values with a more critical eye.

It was easy to champion singing lessons, acting class and play auditions when my required investment included chauffeuring, soliciting for ads for the play program and donating old clothes for use as costumes. I find myself questioning whether a degree in filmmaking or screenwriting is my son’s wisest educational course. Should I suggest accounting? Health care? Some profession in high demand, that risks less personal rejection than the arts? Or do I live my long-stated values that life is too short not to go after your dreams, that taking risks is a valiant and worthy endeavor? That a steady paycheck in an unfulfilling career may not cushion him from regret? Do I truly believe that creative expression and fulfillment is worth the possibility that my son may have to work several jobs while he tries to craft his masterpiece? I wrestle with what is “best”, what is “sure”, what is “reasonable.” And then I remember the joy in his voice when he first discovered show tunes, the pride in his face when he “screened” his first film. I remind myself of the parenting truth I value above all others: to love him as he takes flight — not to guide his direction or his landing.