Mom’s Take: How To Be Real Without Squashing Your Kid’s Dreams


By Ali Kaplan


My kid wants to rule the world.

I don’t mean that in a slang sort of way, like, “skateboarding rules!” I mean, rule. Not a city. Nor a state. Not even the country. His grandiose plans and imaginary games and notebook scribbles currently involve World Domination. That is, when he isn’t reenacting songs from Hamilton. Or trying to come up with a business idea he could bring to Shark Tank. Who IS this kid?

One day, he’s obsessed with Bernie Sanders. The next, it’s Stephen Hawking. The common theme: being exceptional at whatever you do.

There’s no parent manual on appropriate responses when your 11-year-old asks what he can do that would be great. He’s wholly unsatisfied by the default, “Mommy and Daddy think you’re great no matter what you do, kiddo!” We talk a lot, in this age of Insta-fame, about what it means to be “famous” and how fame is not the same as greatness, and shouldn’t be the goal. It’s the content of what you do that matters, not who notices.

Of course I’m pleased that my child is interested in things besides video games (generally when he’s been told he can’t play any more video games). I think about how I used to peck away on a typewriter dreaming of becoming a published author one day, and how my child can publish with a click and make his voice heard in a snap, tweet, or status update. And then I worry about the added pressure all of that technology, information and opportunity presents, and how social media makes it seem so easy to stand out, when really, it isn’t. I want to protect him and prepare him and keep his expectations in check so that he isn’t devastated by a post that goes unliked.

What’s the right balance? How do I help him channel all his energy and curiosity without setting him up for disappointment?

What will make him feel great?

That’s the stuff we plan to talk about here. And having you join the conversation, well, that would most definitely be great.

That Is Great!

A kid's take on stuff that is great.

6 thoughts on “Mom’s Take: How To Be Real Without Squashing Your Kid’s Dreams

  1. Well, I think it’s pretty great that an 11 year old is questioning the difference between being famous and great – two very different concepts that I feel have been blurred together in our culture.

    Welcome to the blogosphere, kid. Cheers!


  2. The key is that you are talking about it! This next generation is going to be amazing… they are growing up with incredible parents (like you) who are keeping it real. No, you don’t want to squash his dreams…but you also don’t want him set up to be disappointed when it does get real.

    Thank you for the thoughts on famous not equating to greatness.
    Looking forward to more 🙂


  3. Oscar, this is not just a place for you to talk about greatness, it’s a platform for you to show greatness. You know what’s greatness? Living in America and being able to express ideas at such a young age–without being suppressed. I’m proud of you, kid, and can’t wait to read more about what’s rolling around in that awesome head of yours. Keep on rocking!


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