So what does it mean to be 17, to have no societal barriers, and to gaze at a beautiful home and think, I’ll never have that? Every child has a right to glimpse their own potential. Every kid ought to have role models, goals, and dreams. Money, houses, and fame are an entryway for them to think about what they might want in life, but it’s just that, a start. Typically, money will either guide them or blind them from discovering what they truly value. My guess (and this is only a guess) is that my step-daughter’s reaction rose from her wise, self-correcting subconscious. A waterfront mansion is what she thinks she ought to want, rather than what her heart truly covets, so she’s instinctively taking herself out of the game. Obviously, the big beautiful house is being seen through a completely different cultural lens than I had. I wonder if being expected to succeed (by virtue of race and social class) can be stifling. Is this child’s skepticism a generation-wide rejection of the spend-happy materialism of the last couple of decades? Perhaps I am witnessing the disorienting mirage of the American Dream, which has morphed into being about what we want rather than what we need.