We Want Our Kids To Dream. But How Big Is Too Big?

When it comes to your kids' ambitions, are you a realist or a dreamer?

“Mommy, do all dreams come true?” my daughter asked me one night while I was tucking her in.

“A lot of them do,” I responded and then added, “Why what are you dreaming about?” I didn't want her to put a unicorn on her Christmas wish list and then be disappointed when it didn't come to fruition.

“I just dream that one day I will be a rock star,” she coyly replied back to me.

And so it begins.

“If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It” was the famous quote by Walt Disney. But we’re talking about a guy who dreamt up flying elephants and talking mice. Personally, I’ve always lived my life by the motto that "If you don't take a chance, you don’t stand a chance,” and for that reason, a lot of doors have opened to me because I wasn't afraid to take some risks. But dreams and rock stars? That’s a whole different ballgame.

As a parent, where do we draw the line between what is attainable and what is not? Sure we want our children to all reach for the moon—plus, if they don't succeed, we can always pick them up with the line that if they fall short they'll land among the stars.

Unfortunately, in the land of rock stars, there's very little middle ground when it comes to success. I’m a huge fan of the show ‘The Voice’ so I know that my daughter shares that dream with millions of other people all over the world. Sure, she can belt out a tune, entertain a dance floor with her moves and make up lyrics that make her dad and I shake our heads in awe because the kid is only five and she’s already so passionate.

I guess in the big scheme of things I am a dreamer and my husband is a realist. He’s all about encouraging and pushing and never giving up, but at the end of the day, he’s also all about the truth. Certainly, you can try to be a rock star, he would say, but make sure you have a backup plan in case that doesn't work out. 

On the other hand, as her mother, I feel that it's my job is to encourage her and be her cheerleader no matter what. Of course, if she couldn't carry a tune and screeched like nails on a chalkboard, then I would definitely be honest with her. But dreams are attainable if you work hard and what better way to reach a dream than to have someone encourage you to do so?

A teacher used to tell me “Don't dream your life, live your dream,” but I always thought that was pretty ambitious. If I were to live the life I dreamed of by dressing for the job I wanted, I would need a much more exciting wardrobe and an endless bank account. 

But I do want my daughter to dream. I want her to imagine a world bigger than the confines of our home and city. I want her to explore, to adventure, to travel . . . and ultimately, to live. 

I feel as parents we are so often caught saying ‘no’ or ‘don’t’.  Don’t climb that tree; No you can’t go in there; Don’t shout; No I don't have time to play right now. Some days I feel like I am a downer and a naysayer to everything my daughter suggests and I think how refreshing it would be to reply with ‘yes’ or ‘why not?’

If she climbs the tree and falls, she will learn for next time. If she goes in there and gets scared, she might not ask again. If she shouts, she might discover her own voice and own opinions. If I have time to play with her now, she might learn that she can depend on me throughout her life and realize that it’s okay for adults to have fun and be silly sometimes too.

I love the fact that my daughter has big dreams, and I promise to encourage them and be right there, front row center when they come true. And if they don’t—well the ride will have made it all worthwhile.

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