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Today's Parents and "Adult Kids"

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RUSH: Rasmussen has a poll out. I don't know what it's really worth, but "71% of Likely US Voters believe that Palestinian leaders should be required to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Just eight percent (8%) disagree and say this is not essential for a Middle Eastern peace agreement. Another 21% are not sure." I can tell you that it's irrelevant except for the fact that Obama's on the wrong side of the issue, as it relates to the mind-set of the American people.

Folks, this next story, there are certain things that get to me, that really bother me for the future of the country. You know, Obama is one, as an umbrella, and everything that happens underneath the Obama umbrella portends problems for the future of the country, but there's some cultural things out there that I'm sure bother you, too, but this one continues to gnaw at me. I ask myself, maybe I'm taking it too seriously or assigning too much weight to it, too much importance, maybe it's not that big a deal. The story is from Forbes.

"Nearly 60% of Parents Provide Financial Support to Adult Children," and not mentioned in the story is that many parents have their kids on their health care program until they're 26 to boot. "This month, young adults across the nation are donning graduation robes and tweaking resumes, while parents ready their Canons and Kleenex. At the podium, guest speakers will motivate and inspire, but they will likely omit one tiny detail: Many of those grads will remain financially dependent on their parents for years.

"According to a new survey, 59% of parents provide financial support to their adult children who are no longer in school. The online poll by ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) of 1,074 U.S. adults -- non-students aged 18 to 39 and their parents -- was conducted by Harris Interactive in May. 'Parents are continuing their involvement longer than we expected,' says NEFE chief executive Ted Beck. 'Financial pressures are higher for this generation. If I was in their shoes, I would be concerned.' Young adults are feeling the heat: 65% say the financial pressures faced by their generation are tougher than those faced by previous generations, and one in three parents agree that their offspring are worse off.

"Today’s young adults graduated into one of the worst recessions since the depression and carry a crippling college debt burden. Above the national average of 9%, unemployment rates spike to 14.2% among 20- to 24-year-olds and 10.2% in the 25 to 29 bracket. Meanwhile, the average four-year college student borrowed $24,000 in 2009–double the $12,000 she borrowed in 1993. 'Parents were expecting their kids to get jobs that were high paying enough to manage payments, but they are finding that they can’t,' says Jean Chatzky, financial editor for the Today show. 'You don’t want to see your kids struggle.' In fact, among the parents offering financial support 43% say they are 'legitimately concerned' for their kids’ financial well-being, and 37% say they have struggled and don’t want their children to struggle too." That's understandable, but that's not good. This idea that kids shouldn't struggle, kids should feel no pain, the kids should have a paved road, it's not good.

"Thus, they are providing financial assistance in record numbers and on a scale that ranges from occasional cash to complete dependence. The majority of parental help is housing (50%), living expenses (48%), transportation costs (41%), insurance coverage (35%), spending money (29%) and medical bills (28%). New York-based psychologist and author of Face It, Vivian Diller, Ph.D., believes the trend extends beyond the economy. 'In the last 20 to 30 years, the family structure has become more child-centered,' she says. 'Boomer parents were very willing to make sacrifices for their kids, giving them the sense that it would continue until they were on their feet. Now parents are supporting kids’ lifestyles.' Diller says the trend may bring families closer." Yeah, just like unemployment. Unemployment was bringing families closer.

You notice all these stories that have to do with economic hardship, why, there's always a silver lining. Why, in fact, there is a profound benefit to economic hardship. Parents are once again united with their kids who ran away to go to school, but now their kids can't live on their own, can't find jobs, can't support themselves. Parents don't want to see poor little Johnny and Mary suffer so big Johnny and Mary show back up, live at home, live off their parents, and get closer together. What a crock. Big Johnny and little Mary are out the door as fast as they can, even when they're living at home.

"However, increasing financial support could have dangerous side effects. 'Because they have been protected, some children don’t learn reasonable ways to manage money, and they run into trouble,' Diller warns. 'You can enable kids to become more independent, but you can disable them too.'"

Look, I know I don't have kids, and people say, "You really don't know how you would react in a situation like this, Rush, unless you've had kids." That's probably true. So all I have to go on is my own life experience, and I couldn't wait to get out of the house. I could not wait to be living on my own. I didn't want to be in the prison of dependency. I didn't want that at all. You see these stories every now and then. This is a step beyond the stories we get about graduating college students moving back home 'cause they can't afford a house. Then you find they're staying there until they're age 35 or 40, and at some point you have to ask yourself, "Well, now, wait a second, how is it the parents are doing so well that they can continue to support their kids long into adulthood and the kids can't do one thing to help support themselves?"

What a dramatic drop off we've faced here. I mean you talk about the difference between the rich and the poor or the gap. (interruption) Well, that's my point. How many parents have this endless supply of money to be able to provide for their kids living at home until they're 35 or 40 years old? Where did the parents get all this money? I don't know. Does not bode well for our culture and our society, if you ask me. You know, things are tumultuous in our country right now. They're economically challenging, there's no question. But they have been in the past as well and people handled adversity differently in the past. If these stories are really representative of a genuine cultural trend, then it would seem to me that there's been a real change in fortitude, mental makeup of today's kids, that the first sign of adversity it's cave-in time. What do you mean, before the first sign of adversity it's cave-in time?

I hear people talk about how tough things are, can't deny that, but, you know, I got this belief, I'm a Baby Boomer, and we had it easy compared to our parents. Like I love to say, we had to invent our traumas to tell ourselves what a tough time we were having, because everybody wants to think they're living through tough times and everybody wants to think they're triumphing over adversity. And a lot of people do. But when you have start inventing your traumas, my parents, my grandparents' generation did not have time to wallow in the "poor me" aspects of life. They didn't have time. They had to fend off the Russians and the Germans and whoever the heck else. They didn't have time. They created abundance and prosperity. Their offspring have the time to be so self-aware and self-focused.

I look around the country and if there's any group of people doing well, it proves to me that somebody else can do well, too. But not if they tune out and forget it and say, oh, well, gosh, all this debt, and I can't get a job, gonna move back home with mom and dad. I realize I'm ruffling some of your feathers out there. I know what you're saying, "You don't know what it's like, Rush. You haven't lived it," blah, blah. That's where I would disagree with you. I have lived it in a different time. But I have lived it. I left home for good when I was 20. I did go back for three months when I got canned in Pittsburgh. Well, no, my mom probably kicked me out, 'cause, see, I was working from the time I was 14 on, so I never really had summertime or any of that, so I was kinda catching up on lost leisure time.

I hung around for three or four months at home when I would have been 23. My mom got a phone call from a Kansas City radio station, and I said, "Get a number," and she took the call and told me I was going to Kansas City the next day to meet with the program director of a radio station she had set up since I didn't have the guts to get off the chaise lounge and take the call. But that's even instructive, isn't it? Today's parents appear to want their kids hanging around house. Maybe I'm making too big a deal of it, and I'm not trying to be an old fogy about it and say that only the way it happened when I was young is the right way or any of that.

But something gnaws at me with too many people giving up too soon, cowering in the face of adversity that everybody faces multiple times in their lives. You can always come up with an excuse for not doing something. You can always construct an excuse for failing that does not involve you. Anybody can do that. It's just it seems so commonplace. So many more people happen to be doing it these days.

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