When Your Child Has a Dream That Doesn’t Come True

We all have dreams for our children, and they have dreams for themselves.  Their dreams may be unrealistic at times…like my son’s alternating dreams of being a pro basketball player or the winner of Wimbledon…but that doesn’t make them any less real and important. Childhood dreams are self-esteem builders. They fuel the passion inside us to make ourselves better. They are dreams worth supporting…up to a point.   

We live in a world where it can be easy to get too wrapped up in sports culture, fame, fortune, movie stars and the like. For most of us, these are not the goals we want our children to aspire to, but the appeal is strong, and a child dreams of fame, fortune and of being a star! As a parent, you are their reality check. It’s important to let your child know he or she can do many things, and dreaming big is always a great thing to do. It’s also important to keep them grounded in the real world and remind them that they are special no matter what. 

Here are some no-nonsense ways to help support your child’s dreams:

Let them know you love to participate—whether it be watching a game, coming to an orchestra performance or watching them dominate at chess…you are THERE FOR IT!!  Whether they win or lose, you will always be there for it. 

Stay realistic—help your child keep his or her goals realistic. People love to say, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it”…but that’s not really true! Not every person can do everything. Home in on your child’s skills and talents and encourage what they’re best at. It doesn’t mean the professional sports dreams have to be shelved, it just means encourage them to have more than one dream. It’s okay to fantasize about that one-in-a-million dream, if you acknowledge it as a one-in-a-million chance. A realistic dream is something you have more control over, such as getting a degree or visiting another state. Help your child know the difference. 

It’s okay to change your mind—just because you have one dream one day, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a different dream the next. We grow and change and our desires for ourselves change with us. Support that growth and change in your child. 

Most dreams require effort—many people have big dreams, but some are not organized or motivated enough to do what’s necessary to make them actually happen. If your child wants to be a star athlete, it takes good genetics, skill, determination and years of sacrifice and practice. If your child has his or her heart set on attending an Ivy League university, he or she will most likely have to forgo a lot of socializing to spend time hitting the books to be at the top of the class. Even then, natural abilities and proficiencies will be required to get them there…not to mention financial resources.  They may need to get a job to help finance any big dream they have. If things aren’t falling into place, and if your child’s dreams are not coming true, be sure they are taking the appropriate actions to help get them there. 

Normalize this message—even if you work hard and do everything right, your dream still might not come true…sometimes it’s just not meant to be, and it’s no one’s fault.  Instead of fighting so hard for something that’s not paying off, it might be better to step back and let life choose the course for you. Try being patient and you will eventually be shown a new path.  When something is meant to be, you may not have to fight very hard at all to make it come to pass. 

Having something to strive for gives our lives purpose. Dreams allow children to develop their imagination, their passion, and their work ethic. As their parent, we should always celebrate their accomplishments and teach them to put things into perspective by giving thanks for all the dreams that come true in their lives…the big ones and the small ones…and teach them to enjoy all the steps along the way. 


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