Being a Realistic Mom While Still Encouraging Your Kids to Dream Big {Plus $100 Fandango Giveaway}


While my husband sometimes chides me for being a pessimist, I like to think of myself as more of a realist to his more dreamer-optimistic nature. Those natural inclinations show up not only in our daily lives, but they also come through in our parenting styles. He’s the one who is more likely to say, “That sounds great!” when our teenager says he wants to be a historian who travels all around the world learning about other cultures as a job.

I’m the one who says, “That sounds cool, but what kind of job do you think you would have that would pay for you to do that?” I know, that makes me sound like the dream crusher, doesn’t it? I like to think, however, that I am trying to keep my kids realistic but still with the courage to try to make their dreams a reality. So, instead of just leaving it as a dream crusher, I talked more to my teenager about the kinds of jobs history majors might do as well as the kinds of jobs that might involve travel and exploration.

When we recently were able to watch a trailer and read more about the characters in the new Disney film Planes, which is flying into theaters this summer, I recognized right away that my parenting style is well represented by the character Dottie. Dottie, voiced by Teri Hatcher, is the sensible forklift and friend to the main character Dusty, a crop duster who dreams of taking part in an international race. Dusty, however, has some distinct disadvantages. Not only is he a crop duster, but he’s also scared of heights. While Dottie tries to keep him realistic in his dreams, she always has his back. You can go check out the trailer for Planes too!

That same history loving teenager of mine has his own limitations. Asperger’s Syndrome (a high functioning form of Autism) definitely makes life more challenging from him. While I have probably done some coddling, I’ve also often had to take a tough love approach (just like Dottie!) to force him to try new experiences that he would often like to just skip out on.

While my son had long since given up on the idea of learning to ride a two wheeled bike, I hadn’t given up on the idea for him. I tried to keep realistic about his limitations, but I also researched options that might make it possible for him. Even though he was scared, when I found a program that teaches children with special needs to ride bikes, I took a tough love approach and talked him into reaching for that dream of independent riding.

You better believe that when he finally rode independently on a two wheeled bike, one month before his 14th birthday, we were both thrilled that I had taken that tough love approach to encourage him to go for that dream, even if it seemed out of his reach. After his class that day, he declared that he felt like he “could take on the whole world.” And this Mom that sometimes gets guff for being pessimistic believes that he just might be able to do anything he really puts his mind to.

Our whole family is looking forward to being able to go see Planes this summer. My kids loved the Cars movies, so the trailer excited them right away. As we watched it, they alternated with laughing and oohing and ahhing over the international planes and their designs. My kids are already eagerly awaiting our trip to the theater. And, with our bike riding adventure happening so recently, I know that we’ll have an extra special place in our heart for Dusty the crop duster as he tries to achieve his dreams and overcome the obstacles in his way.

How you encourage your children to try new things and follow their dreams?

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a $100 gift card!

No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the
following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post”
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/15 – 8/12.
Be sure to visit the Disney Planes page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!


  1. Since my kids are older, my encouragement generally consists now of being a sounding board while they are discussing ideas, and sometimes pointing out things they may not have thought of, as well as the pros and cons of things.

  2. maria cantu says:

    I tell them they can do anything.

  3. Karen Gonyea says:

    I have taught them that it’s alright to fail !!

  4. We give them small tasks that they can complete so they feel confident.

  5. Erica Best says:

    i do not have kids but i live when my nephew learn somehing new and trying to find his way in the world

  6. Erica Best says:
  7. I encourage them by helping them build confidence in themselves.

  8. Pauline M says:

    I help my kids by opening them up to new opportunities. For example, my son loves playing video games which would sometimes drive me crazy since I would have to yell to get him off of the PS3. So this summer, instead of yelling, I signed him up for a summer computer programming camp for kids at our local University and it’s been awesome! He’s programmed his own ninja video game and has found something that he truly loves and wants to continue learning about!

  9. By cheering them on and helping in any way possible

  10. My children are adults now but I always tried to find ways to let them achieve small steps on the way to a big goal.

  11. Mary Jensen says:

    I encourage them to tell me anything. And when they do, I never ever talk them down.

    jbodawg at outlook dot com

  12. I encourage my kids to follow their dreams by praising them when they do good and when they aren’t feeling so happy tell them to never give up.

  13. I encourage them to overcome their fears, celebrate their successes & walk with them through their failures

  14. Mihaela D. says:

    I encourage my children to achieve their goals by supporting them and by encouraging creativity and confidence

  15. susan smoaks says:

    I encourage our kids to reach for their goals by asking them how they are doing, what they want to do and how they plan to do it!

    susansmoaks at gmail dot com

  16. I don’t have kids but if I did I would encourage them to be themselves, try new things, work hard and no matter what I will always be proud of them,

  17. Tabathia B says:

    By encouraging them to follow their dreams, try different things and to challenge themselves

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  18. Tabathia B says:


    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  19. tina reynolds says:

    I make sure all three of them know how important, special and unique they are. I also encourage them with lots of positives.

  20. tina reynolds says:
  21. I encourage my kids my kids by encouraging them to do anything they set their mind to. My motto to them is the bible verse “With God all things are possible.”

  22. Thomas Murphy says:

    I tell my kids they can be anything they want if they put the hard work in.

  23. Thomas Murphy says:
  24. Amanda Sakovitz says:

    I always tell them to believe in themselves and that you wont know if you like something or not unless you try it!
    pokergrl8 at

  25. Amanda Sakovitz says:
  26. we tell her she can be whatever she wants to be when she grows up.

  27. I tell my children to believe in themselves.

  28. Danielle Van Name says:

    Encourage their creativity and allow them to dream big!

  29. we homeschool so our kids can focus on subjects that they enjoy and have opportunities to follow their own dreams in life

  30. I encourage him to try new things and expose him to many new things – granted he’s only 8 months, but new book, new toys, new textures, rain on his skin, puddles after the warm summer storms, sandy beaches etc
    You never know what you’ll want to be or do in life until you know what’s out there!

  31. Dream Big