Chasing Your Version Of “The American Dream”

The American Dream is dead.

At least, that’s what I’ve heard. From the perceived obscenity of high fuel prices to a “can’t shake it” unemployment percentage plaguing our country, it’s been said over and over that the American Dream is dead.

Do you disagree with that? I sure do. The time is here where you should try to capture your own slice of this attainable Dream, and the easiest way to do it is go old-school.

Are you ready for old-school? It’s the place where luxuries are luxuries (and not “needs”), and that the ultimate goal of convenience is looked at with a jaded eye.

It’s that crazy place where if the word entitlement even crosses your mind, it’s how you feel entitled to this: the opportunity to grab a job (sometimes two) or start a company and then proceed to scratch, claw, and earn everything that you have.

It’s the school where our previous generations roamed, survived, and subsequently kicked some ass.

As a responsible parent of two teenagers, I feel it is my duty to inform my kids of the advantages of old-school thinking and philosophy. I believe I’m a good parent, but self doubt can creep in, leaving me wondering, “Am I doing enough?”

You can think of this post, if you want, as a letter of love and advice to my children. It is. But, I’ve no doubt that 90% of adults, myself included, can be helped by it as well. For me to do my job as a Dad, the American Dream needs to be outlined in a certain manner: the way it used to be.

You see, kids, back when my grandparents (your great grandparents) were around, they were the embodiment of the American Dream. Emigrating from Italy, they got off a crappy boat to walk our shores and make their lives here, in your city. There were mighty struggles back then, but they made a true success story as entrepreneurs, homeowners, and generally fantastic people.

Here’s where things get interesting for me. While modern Americans decry the Dream as dead, with their own struggles to make ends meet, I’m certain your great grands would have thrived in an environment that we have today. This is the richest country around, with boat loads of opportunity to do well. Yes, we had a Recession… but it was far from the Great Depression they lived through. And while this country is involved in wars currently, its arguably not the magnitude of World War II. I’m gonna say they had it a little bit tougher.

Nowadays, life is moving pretty quickly. You’re in high school and middle school, respectively, and the future is beckoning. Everyone wants to know what you’re going to do with your life. Peer pressure will ebb and flow, and the most well meaning people will tell you what you should do, what you should buy – and what you need to do to get it.

Dad Advice – I know it’s unsolicited, but here it is: Get your own version of the American Dream. Be different. Non-conformist. Don’t follow the herd. See the latest version of the Dream as it really is: a sham, a lie perpetrated to us by marketing execs with PhDs, determined to coerce you to part with all of your money – and lead you into a stressful life.

Your great grands did not have much education, but they had wisdom and common sense, in spades. As far as finances and economics, they were brutally smart on what to leave alone. Kids, I have to admire the fact that as I watch you grow up, you look like you will be treading the same path. You care about the environment like Nonna did (for Pete’s sake, she recycled potato chip bags), and you make purchases thoughtfully like she did. Buying things when she needed to.

You’re on the right track. Without a doubt. You want to hear how Nonna and Pop really blew it up? Most of the stuff that you grew up with, that people will tell you are life’s necessities, are in fact the very definition of luxuries. Nonna and Pop did without most of these luxuries – and wound up happy and successful anyway.

Next post: For the kids, and any adults that care to listen, I’ll detail all the stuff – cool, stupid, or completely unnecessary – that my super smart grandparents avoided on the way to forging their version of the Dream in the country they loved. Until then, feel free to liberally use the sharing buttons below to make your friends aware of this wonderful content!

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15 thoughts on “Chasing Your Version Of “The American Dream”

  1. Hi Joe

    My parents lived in The Great Depression and they were extremely frugal. Although I did get a lot of that from them, hubby did not and today we are just surviving. But I do believe there are many more opportunities to recover no matter what age you are.
    The recession hurt a lot of us and we got sucked in so fast. Try not to think much about it as there is very little I can do to set the record straight. But there is definitely many options out there that my parents would never have had. As long as I can keep the wolves off my back for awhile I am sure that we will turn this all around big time. Optimism or blind faith, but I do believe anything is possible “IF” you try! Nothing will change if you sit around thinking the sky is falling, as it surely will if you don’t take action.

    Mary

  2. Nicely done. I’ve thought this for some time but like the way you write it out. My kids are 4 and 1-1/2 but this is the kind of advice I need to start providing them with sooner than later.

    I like your blog and glad I found it. I’ve got you on my feed and looking forward to reading more.

    Good luck,
    Chris

  3. Great post will have my son and little brother read this. The word entitlement really hits it with me. When i was growing up you worked for what you needed and got some of the things you wanted and knew that you mom and dad worked hard to get it. Kids and adults too think these luxuries are owed to them. Some people I talk to look at me and say its so easy to make it in America. I realized years ago so many people have such hard lives compared to here and we take it for granted.

  4. total load of crap. the kids nowadays dont have a chance and yet you say they have it just as the boomers did. heck the people nowadays are working 2 jobs getting nowhere. have kids at 35 . get married at 30. half their lives are gone and what do they have to show for it? oh i forgot, just another propaganda session on this site!

    1. Awesome! A negative comment! I haven’t had one of those in a while…:)

      First off, please read the entire post rather than just scanning it. If you did, you might note that my subjects are not baby boomers, but in fact Depression era Italian immigrants. My opinion is they had it tougher than we did, and made it anyway. Period.

      Please be sure to read the next post, which will be a continuation of this one. You’ll be able to see the “propaganda” in painstaking detail.

      Thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Brick,
      Thanks for stopping by again. The next post will have some good stuff, getting to the nuts and bolts of what I think my kids could live without, or at least go for last year’s model instead of the latest and greatest. I’m looking forward to posting it. As always, thank you for the thoughtful comment.

  5. A wonderful reminder of what’s really important, and what our families went through when they came to the States. Thanks, Joe. Looking forward to the next installment.

  6. So true and so many times people don’t take the time to think for themselves what they want out of life…..people tend to “regurgitate” what other people want in their lives and take ownership of someone else’s “american dream”

    1. Hi Bryan,
      Thanks for reading. My goal is to provide my kids with the information to make the decision for themselves to be able to turn their back on excessive consumerism if they choose. I think they would be happier for it.

      1. Our world has been consumerized by big companies and it is sad. Great advice and I too plan on helping my kids choose the life that they want because I am passionate about everyone making that decision

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