Serena Dyer had a unique childhood being raised by spiritually progressive parents, including her bestselling celebrity dad, Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., who would write her notes on personal stationery printed with the motto, “Be realistic. Expect miracles!” It’s not a message her peers likely heard at home.
Now 29, Serena shares her point of view in Don’t Die with Your Music Still in You: My Experience Growing Up with Spiritual Parents, co-authored with her father. The title reflects her parents’ key lesson for their children: Pursue the life you are born to live.
Some missteps along the journey to her true calling included enrolling in law school to maintain her student identity, but her upbringing served as a light guiding her home to herself. She wrote the book after dropping out of law school, a big step toward her dream of inspiring others to live authentically.
What was it like to grow up with Wayne Dyer as your father?
Growing up, my seven siblings and I were exposed to a lot of ideas that were different than what my friends heard. We were taught that within each of us is a purpose, a passion that we call dharma, and that dharma is what we are incarnated here to do. We were taught that the most important thing you could do in your life was to follow that dharma, and in doing so, you would be serving God. I often joke that my childhood was filled with unconditional love and security, but also a lot of weirdness! Not many kids learn transcendental meditation at the age of 5 and count monks as friends.
Were there any downsides to being raised by spiritual parents?
I like to think that while there weren’t any real downsides, there were certainly challenges. For example, in a more traditional household, when someone gets the flu, their parents probably tell them that it’s flu season and it’s just going around. In my household, when one of us would get the flu, we were told that we aligned with it and allowed it in. In other words, part of the challenge of having spiritually progressive parents is that they make sure you are aware that you are responsible for everything happening in your life.
What is the greatest lesson you learned?
Thus far, it is knowing that we are the creators of our destiny—the masters of our fate. I wholeheartedly believe that we sign up for the experiences we have in this lifetime, as they are part of our soul’s desire to grow and expand. When we make the choice to view life as not happening to us, but responding to us, we become more consciously aware of how much our thoughts affect our daily experience. I am so grateful my parents taught me this at a young age because I have learned to choose my thoughts carefully.
What is the greatest gift your parents have given you?
It’s not something they did for me; it was how they lived their lives in front of me. My parents did not encourage me to follow my dreams and then sacrifice theirs in order to raise me. My parents followed their dreams and in watching them do so, I felt safe to go after mine, as well. They taught me that there is no honor in sacrificing yourself or your dreams for anyone else, and demonstrated that the only time you have to make your life the way you want it is now. I am grateful to them for living their lives this way, which has allowed me to feel safe living my life this way, as well.
What advice would you give to people that wish they were raised in a more spiritual manner?
I tell people that it doesn’t really matter what kind of parents you had, it matters how you feel about yourself. Everything in life starts with the self. If you don’t have love and acceptance and forgiveness for yourself, you won’t have these things to give to other people either. I was taught that we can’t give what we don’t have. When we learn to love and treasure every part of ourselves, we also have love to give to others.
Contributor Lindsay McGinty lives in Orange County, CA.