The days of the white picket fence and a front porch swing being the American dream may or may not be dead--it just depends on who you ask.  For many the American dream has instead become a fantasy.  One thing that hasn't changed over time is a parent's desire for their children to have a better life than their parents.  What does that mean, though?  A parent's values may determine exactly what that means.

My 10-year old son, Tyler, wants nothing more than to be a Navy SEAL.  That's an honorable profession, and it's one that a lot of parents would be proud their children chose as a career.  For others, however, it's a potential stress-inducing nightmare that will lead to sleepless nights, with days, weeks & months at a time spent wondering about their safety.  I would be proud to see my son serve in any branch of the military in any capacity.  Others would not.  Some may judge their child's success the same way the judge their own success... through money and possessions.

There are people who determine their level of success and subsequently their happiness by the dollar amount in their bank accounts.  Some base happiness on the "things" they have, including cars, boats, vacation homes and the square footage of their home. Personally, I tie my perception of the success I've achieved in life by the legacy I'm set to leave behind.  I want to raise two boys that will turn into productive, decent members of society.  After I'm gone from this world I want my name to bring to mind a man that inspired others and left the world better than when he entered it.

I've got the house with the two-car garage, the fenced yard, the dog, the new car, the big TV and a yearly beach vacation.  I'd trade every single worldly possession if it ever hindered my ability to be a good husband, father or citizen.

I'm what's becoming more of a rarity in this "me" generation.  I see it in my own kids.  They desire "things", and there's nothing a parent can do to compete with the influence of friends, celebrities and the internet.  My boys see their friends with the latest video games and they want them.  They see their friends with new shoes and they want another pair.

The country seems to be regressing in terms of what we value, and there seems to be no stopping it.  The question I have is whether this "me" generation is actually worse than previous generations, or if I'm just officially getting old because I think the country's going to hell in a hand basket.  As with everything in life the answer probably lies somewhere in that grey area in the middle.

I feel it's a case-by-case basis, and while I can't do anything about a celebrity that values their "crib", I can set a good example for my kids by valuing the truly important things in life;  family, faith and friendship.  What do you think is the new American Dream?  Is success in your life determined by material possessions, happiness, legacy?  You tell us by commenting below.