Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Striving For Our "American Dream"

What is the "American Dream"? I suppose if I asked 100 different people, I might get 100 different answers. Everyone has their own unique interpretation of what the "American Dream" is.

Historian James Truslow Adams, in his 1931 book Epic of America, wrote of the "American Dream":
"...that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement."

I always thought the "American Dream" was working hard (and smart) toward a goal and being able to achieve that goal without being hindered by social status, race, religion, etc. That includes going to college, having a successful career, buying a nice house, having the nice cars, having a couple of kids and sending them off to great schools where they would learn to become doctors or lawyers (well...maybe just doctors) and then retiring and being free to do whatever I have earned the right to do in retirement years.

A lot of those things are material, but those material things are what you get through hard work and perseverance. If I don't have a nice house, I know to work harder and smarter to get one. If I want a nicer car, I know to work harder and smarter to get it. I don't expect the government to give those things to me or make it easier for me. I don't expect my parents to give me those things either.

It seems to me that our youth are growing up thinking they are entitled to the benefits of hard work without having to do any work to earn them.

I don't shower my children with "stuff" and they know my answer to their pleads for things will usually be "no", but still they ask for the newest, biggest, coolest thing when they don't really want it. The kids are already trying to "keep up with the Joneses" and they're only kids!

The "Pickles" have been asking me for a cell phone for the last year. My 8 year old and 12 year old. A cell phone. The only time they aren't with me is when they're in school (because I take them there and pick them up). When would they need a phone? They can call me from the school phone if they have to.

I told Elder Boy he needed to (should) live at home while he was going to community college instead of getting an apartment he couldn't afford. We even calculated all the bills that he would have to show he couldn't pay for everything making high school graduate's income. He still chose the apartment and then wanted me to "help him with his rent".

We made a lot of changes last year when I understood how important it was for the "Pickles" to start doing things on their own now so they would grow into responsible, self-sufficient adults. In fact, when Elder Boy came home one week, he was surprised by how much his younger sibling were doing on their own. With all the recent changes we've made in the household, I hope the "Pickles" will get rid of this "sense of entitlement", realize the "American Dream" is still possible and learn how they can achieve it (without going into debt).

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