What Does “Living the Dream” Actually Mean?

Image by TeeFarm from Pixabay

Oops, did I say that out loud?

It has come to my attention in adulthood that the “approval of my parents” has served as a stumbling block not just for me, but for my siblings, friends, and so many others that I have encountered over time.

Conceding about happiness.

Most parents I’ve known have neither cared about nor understood the concept of “happiness” for their children, and are content to simply boast about their accomplishments to friends and family. If their adult child is unhappy about their marriage or career, that’s really not their business—but hey, did I mention my child is an attorney?

Identifying as our children.

I look at my dog—he’s the closest thing I have to a child—and think, “gee, I love that bag of bones.” He’s 15-years-old, pretty stinky, can hardly walk straight, and yet I look at him and I see a majestic creature. I see my best friend. I see my dog. I’ve never looked at him and yearned for anything else. I’ve never gazed upon him and secretly wished he was a golden retriever or actually liked water. I know exactly where I end, and where he begins. I don’t see him as a reflection of myself, of my abilities, of my health, of my intelligence, of my hygiene, or anything else. I appreciate him for exactly who and what he is, no strings attached. Why is that?

Parenting with expectations.

I don’t think we want children to “live the dream.” I think we want children to “live our dream,” and that’s a damn shame—sort of.

Why parent at all?

The majority of people I know have been so scarred by their upbringing that they are extremely resistant to having their own children. They feel they are still too busy reconciling some significant, inherited trauma to have additional time, energy, and money to devote to their offspring, which I completely understand—I think this is a common “millennial” sentiment.



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Amanda Dollinger

Amanda Dollinger


The highest purpose of words is that they be used to connect one another.