Letter to the Editor

Failure to launch -- The Vanishing American Adult

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Dear Editor,

Ben Sasse, our senator and former president of Midland College, has written a book outlining the evolvement of a situation in which adolescence seems to be a destination instead of a journey to adulthood.

His book is called ďThe Vanishing American Adult and How to Build a Culture of Self-Reliance.Ē

The institution of marriage was once the building block that stabilized society and transmitted the culture to the next generation. Self-reliance was the key to successful marriages and was the most important quality to cultivate in children during adolescence.

In 1968, 56 percent of Americans ages 18 to 31 were married and raising children. In 2012, more Americans ages 18 through 34 were unmarried and living with their parents than with spouse or a partner.

In 2012, the average age of a newlywed was 28 and 20 percent of the population had always been single.

Kids boomerang back home after failing school, loss of a job or a breakup with a spouse or a partner. Thirty percent of college students dropped out and 40 percent didnít graduate.

In his book, The Vanishing American Adult, Sasse sees three basic causal factors contributing to these alarming statistics.

More people 18 to 30 years old are financially dependent on their parents or return to the nest because of decreased initiative, absence of economic alternatives or a deficit of life skills required for self-reliance.

Most kids over 13 years of age are spending 60 percent of their waking hours consuming media. It is Sasseís opinion that all this screen time seems to rob adolescents of initiative to start project on their own and the ability to finish what theyíve started when it isnít fun anymore. It is his observation that many kids are exhibiting a zombie-like passivity.

Millennials come back home because they canít find a job at all or canít find a job that pays enough to set up household, own a car or afford health insurance. They donít know the meaning of economic security and they may fear the Great American Dream will always be beyond their reach. Many begin to feel helpless and hopeless. Mom and Dadís basement at least represents a certain amount of permanency.

Millennials are said to be intellectually fragile. They are protected lest they should encounter uncomfortable ideas. Colleges are safe spaces where young adults are shielded from words and ideas they donít like.

Safer helicopter parenting meant to increase self-esteem, replete with participation trophies and constant positive feedback engenders unrealistic expectations in our young.

Sasse believes that this softer environment produces the exact opposite qualities that young people need to survive. When they enter the workspace, many of them are unable to adapt then feedback and coaching offends them. Compared to earlier generations, they reflect a reduced sense of tough.

Janine Hall Pantenburg,

McCook, Neb.

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  • In a like manner Sasse's generation , or even the generation before his, was nowhere near as tough as the people in the mid 1800's who came out west to farm or ranch. They often had no schools , medical facilities, plumbing, electricity ,cars, phones, tv's , etc.. They would have thought Sasse a real marshmallow. Progress tends to make marshmallows. At least in the eyes of prior generations. I'd sort of like to know what he's getting at. Hard to say.

    -- Posted by bob s on Wed, Mar 20, 2019, at 1:11 PM
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