Sen. Ben Sasse Gives Parents a Plan for 'Removing the Training Wheels' in His New Book

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) is a deep thinker with wicked sense of humor. He joined Glenn on radio to discuss his new book The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis--and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance.

In the book, Sasse diagnoses the causes of a generation that can't grow up and offers a path for raising children to become active and engaged citizens. He identifies core formative experiences that all young people should pursue: hard work to appreciate the benefits of labor, travel to understand deprivation and want, the power of reading, the importance of nurturing your body --- and explains how parents can encourage them.

His refreshingly honest approach to parenting gives practical steps on how to cross the finish line and reach the ultimate goal: raising independent, resilient adults.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: There's truly so much in this new book by Senator Ben Sasse that has nothing to do with politics, has everything about restoring America. The -- the problems really stem from within our own homes. No matter who you are, no matter how big you think you are or how much, you know -- you're a United States senator. The most important work you will ever do will be with inside the walls of your own home. And he has -- it's not just a screed against what's happening. This is an actual plan to help restore it. The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-reliance.

Ben, I don't even know where to start on this book. I want to start on one of the -- no, let's start with you defining the problem. And then I want to start with one of the solutions in the book that I am personally going to do with my family. I think it's such a great idea. Start with what the problem is.

BEN: Thanks. So I think a lot of our kids are caught in a state of perpetual adolescence, and that's not good for them. And it's not good for our communities. And it's not good for the republic. But the book is not -- The Vanishing American Adult is not a blame game book. It's two-thirds, as you said, Glenn, constructive project. What do we do about it? How do we make this better? But if we were going to lay some blame, we're not laying it really directly at the feet of teens and 20-somethings. This is not an anti-millennial book.

It is more about parents and grandparents. We haven't done a good job of recognizing that this new category of perpetual adolescence that's drifted in, has let us sort of start to think of adolescence as a destination, as opposed to a means to an end. Childhood is a glorious part of life. It's supposed to be protected. Our kid's innocence is supposed to be guarded. And then adulthood, you get to pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful, and the heights of human achievement and loving your neighbor and building the new app that's going to change the world.

Adolescence is that transitional state between the two. And it's not an eternal idea. It's only a couple thousand years old that we've had this idea, that you hit puberty, you get to biological adulthood, and you don't have to be totally an independent adult yet. And that's a pretty special thing, except if you act like adolescence is a destination. And right now, it's really hard to tell ten and 15 and 20-year-olds apart. That's not good.

GLENN: I will tell you, it's sometimes hard to tell parents apart from the 15-year-old.

BEN: Yeah. I mean, we have started to think of life as different consumption opportunities.

We are the richest people at the richest time and place in all of human history. Of course, there are some bumps over the course of the last seven, eight, nine years. But this is a couple decades in the making problem, and it's going to last for, you know, a half a century in the future.

We are largely unable to feel in our belly the distinction between production and consumption. And that's new across time and space.

GLENN: Explain -- explain the difference.

BEN: So when you work, when you're needed, when you're producing something, when you're serving your neighbor, you do something that is for the benefit of somebody else. Consumption is a different kind of a thing. And lots of consumption is great, right? I mean, there are all sorts of things, that when we consume a fine meal, it is recreating. It revivifies us to go back and serve again.

But we're not satisfied in life if we just consume more and more stuff. And right now, we're having a kind of pop cultural sense that we're drifting toward a world where more and more cotton candy may be good for us. We all know that's not true.

There's a two and a seven-minute dopamine hit that feels good, to take more cotton candy. But two and seven hours later, let alone two and seven years later, I never look back and say, "Oh, that was great. I'm glad I did that."

And, right now, our kids are not developing a work ethic in any sort of intentional way, and it's our fault that we're not celebrating scar tissue with them.

GLENN: So let's go -- celebrating scar tissue. This is the kind of stuff that is in this book that you -- please go out and buy this book. It is -- just that is worth the price of -- celebrating scar tissue. What do you mean by that, Ben?

BEN: Well, scar tissue is the foundation of future character, right? At our house, when we get stitches, we throw a little party. Because if we get stitches and it didn't come with a spinal injury that's going to have permanent problems for us, we think we got away with something.

My wife and I use the frame -- and I want to be clear, we're not setting our family up as a model in this. We stumble and fall every day. We are sinners. But we have a shared theory of what we're trying to accomplish, as parents. And we want to get our kids toward an independent adulthood. And so Melissa and I use this idea that a huge part of parenting kids from eight to ten to 12 to 14 to 16 is about training wheel removal exercises. How can we help them get from a place where they need our protective -- they need our protection, where they're still dependent. Get them to a place where they're independent, so they can live a life of gratitude to God by serving their neighbor and doing something productive.

I'm a no-training wheels guy when I teach my kids to bike. I'm sort of a freak about this. I've trained my three kids and a lot of neighborhood kids. I like teaching kids how to ride a bike. But we don't do training wheels at our house.

The time we bubble wrap them -- because I'm critical of bubble wrapping in this book. But when we're going to teach them how to ride a bike, we wrap them in all their snow gear. Right? They got ski pants and a big winter coat on. We put a hat on them.

And I put the bike, no training wheels, on a slightly declining hill, and I run behind them. And I bat them -- I'm straddling the back wheel. And I bat them, shoulder to shoulder to shoulder, trying to let them finally catch their balance. And when they do, it's like a two-hour learning process. And all of a sudden, they catch their balance a few times, and it's glorious. Like there's this moment. And now they can ride a bike.

And the goal of teaching a kid to ride a bike is not for them to have training wheels forever. It's for them to ride next to you and smell the flowers and have a great workout. And so much of parenting should be about figuring out, how can we take off the training wheels? Let's protect them as we're taking them off. But the goal is to get them to independence.

GLENN: Ben, I've talked to you several times, and I've always been impressed by you. But this is remarkable stuff. And you and your family are going to be added to my family's nightly prayers.

BEN: Thank you.

GLENN: You have a lot -- a lot to teach. Can we jump to a part in the book where you're talking about the five-foot shelf?

BEN: Yeah. Yeah.

I -- the book is structured. One-third is cultural stage setting. Where did this perpetual adolescence come from?

Then the last two-thirds is, let's think of five things we can do to help our kids realize what it means to be an independent adult. Because it's not just progressing through grades in school. That's one of the problems, is that we've started to think that what growing up is about is about checking these markers of just grade progression. And mostly school, which is really important, is a tool. It's a means to an end.

But we want them to get to these certain ends. So the Vanishing American Adult is built around developing a work ethic. It's about learning to limit consumption. Distinguish among different kinds of consumption and especially know the difference between need and want. Don't assume that everything you might feel a yearning for, an appetite for, that you might want, that doesn't make it necessarily a need. How do you learn how to travel? How do you build intergenerational relationships? And to your point, Glenn, how do we learn to be a truly literate people? Not functionally literate. Not, can you read a passage if you sit down to do it? But how can you build appetites, where you want to be a reader?

Because our republic is premised on the idea of deliberation. The ability to be dispassionate and to reflect on other ideas, to persuade or to be persuaded. Not to be in a safe space, but to actually encounter hard and different ideas. And so we built this idea. It's related to some canon fights. But it's not really about a one-size-fits-all canon for America. It would be fun to have that discussion too.

But it is, how do I teach my kids to get to a place where they've got a shelf of books that they want to read, that they've started to read, that they want to go back to again? How do we get them to love both quantity and quality, as they actually become appetitive readers?

GLENN: So, but, for instance, the founding documents, how do you get your kids to want to read those?

BEN: Well, for one thing, you let them understand that there were big debates, right?

We sometimes read these documents, and it feels like they're Scripture handed down from heaven. And everything about them can start to feel boring because it's just eternal truth, where there was no dispute.

And so one of the things we do -- again, distinguishing quantity and quality. We want them to be addicted to quality. We want them to be formed and shaped by a certain set of books. I sort of made up the idea that the average width of a book is about an inch. And so we call it a five-foot shelf because we wanted to put 60 books on it.

We want our kids to have a 60-book 5-foot shelf, that when they leave home, they've already started through these books, and these are books they want to go back to.

Well, it's fine for us to use quantity as a pathway into quality. When my kids were seven and eight and nine and starting to read, we just wanted them to read more, more, more. And so we let them read stuff that felt a little bit cotton candy-ish. And then once they were developing a real appetite and a desire to read, then we'd start substituting in a little bit more vegetables for some of the ice cream and the cotton candy.

GLENN: So let me go through -- some of the books that you say are on your shelf. And it's different for everybody. C.S. Lewis. Martin Luther. Martin Luther King. All understandable. You put George Orwell, Karl Marx, and Moneyball.

BEN: Yeah.

GLENN: Why?

BEN: Well, so first what I tried to do is I wouldn't let there be more than five books in any particular category. So first I thought about genres. My wife and I got out a bunch of index cards, and we started looking at our shelf and pulling down books that we would say, "This is so important, that even if I think disagree with big pieces of it -- so Marx, as an example, or Rousseau's Emile, which is sort of one of the most interesting books ever written on child rearing, but written by an absolutely despicable person. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, you know, abandoned his own kids at an orphanage so he could have more time to write, and then he had the hubris to write a book about how you would raise kids.

So there are people that I strongly disagree with, but I wanted the criteria to be, this is a book so important that I would want to read it more than twice in my life, and I would want to spend 20 bucks to buy it, to give to other people I love and care about. Because I'd like to frame a debate with them, where we'd keep coming back to some of these ideas.

So we've got index cards out, started naming a bunch of our books, started building stacks. We'd name categories, like, you know, sort of fundamental theology, or American history, or founding documents, or markets, or American literature. In each of these, we would only let there be five books. You had to max out in that.

So I was trying to get to 12 categories of five or fewer books. And I just randomly realized that I had a prison lit category. Prison literature, from Mandela to the Apostle Paul to Martin Luther.

GLENN: Martin Luther King.

BEN: To Martin Luther King. A whole bunch of really interesting stuff that's been written when people were in prison.

And so we just sort of organically built a list. It took weeks and months of haggling at my house as we came up with a list. And our list is totally imperfect. And when people read it, they're going to want to scream, "My goodness, what's wrong with you, man? There's no poetry category on your list. You're a broken intellect."

And when people want to start arguing about our boundaries of our list, then I think we've succeeded. Because The Vanishing American Adult is not saying I know the one way to parent; it's that lots of American parents are worried that we're not parenting well and we don't have a deliberative context to talk with our friends and neighbors about it. And the purpose of The Vanishing American Adult is to bring people together into conversation, where we argue about this, because we're all going to do a better job if we're more intentional about our parenting.

GLENN: So, Ben, you were supposed to come in today. You were going to be with us, but you had a vote that you had to be back for. And I wanted to -- you offered to come in and sit with me at 5 o'clock in the morning to do an hour on television.

And I said "no" to that. Because what I would really like to do is see if there's a time where you and your wife can come in and just talk about this.

I think -- I think this is -- it is exactly where my head is right now. That we are in a culture of absolute chaos because we don't know what he is true anymore. And everything is up for grabs. And we have to find our way to putting things back together for our kids. Enough for them to be able to then wrestle with some of these new ideas that are causing chaos.

Can I invite you and your wife to come in together? Would she ever say "yes" to that?

BEN: I like it a lot. In general, she doesn't like to do media, but for you, on this topic, I think there's a chance I could twist her arm and persuade her to do it. So let's talk more about that offline.

One of the things that you said there that I want to completely underscore is the word "virtue."

You didn't use it, but you were speaking about it. When people hear virtue right now, that we all get a squeamishness: Oh, that sounds like a highly moralistic tone.

Actually, the root of virtue, it's from the Latin word for "strength." And a huge part of what America presupposes is that when we go through hard times, we individuals and we families and we local communities are actually tough enough to navigate lots of these problems. And right now, we have a kind of national drift toward a belief that we're all so fragile, that, A, these problems probably can't be solved. And if they can be solved, they'd better be solved by some strongman who says, "I will be your political leader. I can fix everything."

That is not an American idea. And the truth is, these young people -- these teens and 20-somethings -- are going to have to be more resilient.

GLENN: They're the heroic hero generation.

BEN: They have to be more perseverant than anybody before. Because nobody -- we've never had a time when 40 and 45 and 50-year-olds regularly lost their jobs because of technological change. And that's the world that our young people are going to enter. We need them to be tough. It's because we love them that you want them to be gritty, not because you're trying to harm them, but because you want them to be able to navigate this world and love the true and the beautiful and serve their neighbor.

GLENN: Right.

Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-reliance. You're going to be hearing a lot of that on this program. Please, go out and buy this book now. This is one that every single American who wants to solve the problems and are tired of looking at the problem in Washington need to put their nose in this book for a while. It will spur you into some action.

Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult. We'll talk to you again soon, Ben. Thank you so much.

BEN: Great to be with you.

GLENN: You bet. Senator from Nebraska.

This is a moment "Cynical Theories" author James Lindsay probably hoped would never come. The liberal mathematician and host of the "New Discourses Podcast" recently came out as "unhappily" voting Republican, including for President Donald Trump, because the Democratic Party is now being controlled by a far-left movement that seeks to destroy our country and the U.S. Constitution.

He joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to explain why this election isn't "Trump versus Biden." It's Trump versus a "movement that wants to tear apart American society at its very foundation." Lindsay warned that if it isn't stopped, the left can toss out our rights by rewriting the Constitution — or abolishing it altogether.

"A lot of people don't understand what's happening with the election we have right now," he said. "They think it's a choice between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. And at the surface level, of course, it is. We're voting for each candidate to be duly put into the office of president. But that's not what we really have going on. We have, in Donald Trump, a man who's going to govern as we've all seen — the way he feels like he's going to govern. And we have in Joe Biden, a man captured by a movement that wants to tear apart the American society at its very foundation."

Lindsay noted the popular leftist narratives that call to "abolish anything they don't like," which now includes the U.S. Constitution. He added that "this is the movement that is controlling the Democratic Party."

"It is my belief, that there has been a largely effective kind of silent coup of the Democratic Party, that's turned it completely under the control of this movement. And that's what we're going to be electing with Joe Biden. So I can't do it," he said.

Watch the video below for more details:

Tonight at 9 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. CT, Glenn Beck goes straight to the source of the biggest story in the country with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who takes us directly into Hunter Biden's alleged laptop.

Despite Big Tech's attempts to squash this story, there should be a mad scramble in the media to get to the bottom of major corruption allegations, but they're willfully ignoring it. However, this is not just a story about Hunter Biden. This is all about Joe Biden. It's a story Glenn has been investigating for over a year that traces back to Ukraine and China. It goes directly to the root of corruption within our political system: How politicians use their family members to enrich the entire clan and sell out their country. While the media looks the other way, Glenn asks Mayor Giuliani to show us the evidence. Giuliani details the chain of possession of the laptop and reveals news that he only had possession of the laptop days before the New York Post story broke. He says, "I reported this the day after I saw it."

He also drops a major bombshell on the show and says Big Tech doesn't want you to see evidence that "establishes with texts, documents, contracts" that "Joe Biden was a 10% partner with a Chinese communist … and there are witnesses that will come forward and testify to it."

Big Tech censorship is out of control. So to watch tonight's explosive episode of Glenn TV, you must be a BlazeTV subscriber. Because Big Tech is doing whatever it can to limit free speech, we're offering our most important discount on BlazeTV ever. Use promo code GLENN to get $30 off a one-year subscription, so you'll have 24/7 access to news and entertainment completely free of biased "fact-checks" and censorship.

Watch a preview of the show below:

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The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote on subpoenas to compel Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on alleged censorship and bias across their platforms. But that all changed when Republican committee members "expressed reservation about the maneuver," Politico reports.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, was definitely not one of the committee members with cold feet. On the radio program Tuesday, he told Glenn Beck that he's fighting "vociferously" to ensure Dorsey and others testify before the November 3rd election.

"Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg are both going to testify. They're are going to testify in person. They're going to testify before Election Day. That's what I think should happen," Cruz said. "That's what I'm fighting vociferously to happen. Right now, the companies are negotiating with the chairman's office to discuss terms to come voluntarily. I don't give a damn whether they come voluntarily or under subpoena. They need to testify in person and answer questions for the American people about why they are trying to steal this election, to suppress the free speech, and to censor the press."

The subpoenas would require Big Tech leaders to testify on the alleged "suppression and/or censorship" of two consecutive blockbuster stories from the New York Post. The first story was about emails that allegedly came from Hunter Biden's computer which are currently being investigated by the FBI, and the second was based on additional emails that allegedly showed communist China directly offering millions of dollars to then-Vice President Joe Biden.

"Big Tech stepped in, and they've done something they've never done before," Cruz explained. "We know that Big Tech has been censoring individual conservatives, trying to suppress conservative speech. But the step they took here is, they blocked if any individual user tried to share either of the New York Post stories, [they] were blocked ... Sharing a news story, from a major media outlet is part of democracy, part of free speech. And not only that, they blocked the New York Post itself. Right now, today, the New York Post is not being allowed to post its own damn stories on corruption. This is ridiculous. It's a threshold that's never been crossed before, of Silicon Valley oligarchs declaring the authority to determine what the press is allowed to report, and who is allowed to see it."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

If we learned nothing from the media over the past 4 years it's that colluding with a foreign entity to either win an election or for personal gain is absolutely grotesque. Well, that depends on whether you have a (D) or (R) before your name anyway. President Trump was impeached on rumor and innuendo yet Joe Biden has all but skated on his corruption up to this point.

Below is a timeline that shows the level of corruption and the lengths the Biden's went to in order to build that family's wealth and influence internationally.

2009

In 2009, Joe Biden was the brand-new Vice President and John Kerry was a U.S. Senator. Just five months after Joe was sworn in, his son Hunter, and Kerry's stepson, Christopher Heinz, formed an international private equity firm called Rosemont Capital. It had several different branches, including one called Rosemont Seneca Partners.

2010

Just nine months after Rosemont Seneca opened its doors, Hunter Biden went to China for meetings with executives from China's biggest banks, and its sovereign wealth and social security funds. That's unheard-of access for a brand-new firm. Was it just coincidence that at the same time Hunter was meeting these Chinese bigwigs, his dad was meeting with China's then-president Hu Jintao in Washington DC at a nuclear security summit?

2011

In May 2011, Joe Biden met with Chinese officials for the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue conference in Washington. Just two weeks later, Hunter Biden went to Taiwan for meetings with the same Chinese financial giants he'd met in China in 2010, plus some new ones.

2013

By December 2013, Joe Biden was enjoying his second term as VP, and John Kerry was now Secretary of State. That's when Joe traveled to Beijing on an extended official trip and Hunter traveled with him on Air Force Two.

During their stay, Vice President Biden met with President Xi and Hunter was mostly out of sight. We don't know exactly what he was up to, but the deal finalized between Rosemont Seneca and the Bank of China just ten days after the Bidens' trip pretty much gives it away. The most powerful financial institution in China formed a joint venture with tiny Rosemont Seneca to create a giant new investment firm called Bohai Harvest RST – the "RS" stands for Rosemont Seneca.

The firm is often called "BHR" for short.

Hunter Biden was a member of the Board. Remember, the Bank of China is government-owned, which means its business is completely intertwined with the goals of the Chinese Communist Party. BHR also got the freedom to operate in the newly created Shanghai Free-Trade Zone where, over the next six years, it would use $2.5 billion of Chinese government money to invest in China, as well as in other countries, including the U.S.

During their Beijing trip, Hunter also introduced Jonathan Li to his dad. Li is Hunter's business partner – he's CEO and Director of BHR.

Hunter arranged for Joe to meet Li in the lobby of the hotel where they stayed during their Beijing trip.

2014

In 2014, one of BHR's first major investments was in the China General Nuclear Power Corporation.

CGN is a Chinese government-owned nuclear power company that sold off a stake of the company to outside investors. Problem is, CGN was under FBI investigation for paying informants in the U.S. to steal nuclear secrets.

In 2016, the FBI arrested the ringleader of this nuclear espionage, a man named Allen Ho.

When they arrested Ho, he was using a random code generator to access funds being provided to him from – where else? – the Bank of China.

Yet while this FBI probe was going on, the son of the Vice President owned a stake in the company being investigated. And even after arrests were made, Rosemont Seneca did not alter its relationship with BHR, nor did it divest from CGN, even though it was stealing U.S. nuclear secrets.

2015

In 2015, BHR partnered with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to buy an American company called Henniges for $600 million.

AVIC is a gigantic military contractor in China – think Lockheed Martin – that makes fighter jets, bombers and drones. BHR bought 49% of Henniges and AVIC bought 51%.

Henniges is a precision parts manufacturer specializing in anti-vibration technology. The stuff they make is known as "dual use" by the U.S. State Department, which means the technology can also have a military application.

Because of that, the deal had to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) since it could have national security implications. The thing is, the American side of BHR – meaning Hunter Biden and his pals – had to know there were serious national security implications with AVIC.

The year before they formed a partnership with AVIC, the Wall Street Journal reported how AVIC stole technology related to the U.S. Air Force's F-35 stealth fighter and used it in its own stealth fighter for the Chinese.

How the Committee on Foreign Investment approved that deal remains a mystery. CFIUS does not publicly disclose any information regarding its decisions. Their findings are not publicly announced.

Interesting that China accounted for the largest share – with 74 transactions – approved by CFIUS during Obama's second term (2013-2015).

Under the umbrella of Rosemont Capital was a real estate company called Rosemont Realty. In 2015, a Chinese company called Gemini Investments bought a 75% stake in Rosemont Realty. The company was renamed Gemini Rosemont

Gemini brought $3 billion to the partnership with Rosemont, with the aim of buying "Class A institutional-quality commercial office properties in U.S. markets."

Red flag (literally) – Gemini Investments is a subsidiary of the China Ocean Shipping Company, a.k.a., "COSCO."

COSCO is a Chinese government-owned company. Its headquarters in Beijing is actually next to the headquarters of the Bank of China. COSCO is well-known for its close military ties. It's essentially a branch of the Chinese Navy.

2017

In 2017, BHR invested in Face++. That's the facial recognition phone app built by a Chinese company that is incorporated in a separate app built by the Chinese government. Police in the Xinjiang [Sin-jong] region of China use that app to keep tabs on citizens, and track and detain Uiguhr [Wee-ger] Muslims.

The app allows police easy access to data about Chinese Muslims including things like religious activity, blood type, and even the amount of electricity they use.

2018

In March 2018, a spokesman (Chris Bastardi) for Christopher Heinz (John Kerry's stepson) emailed The Hill to say that Heinz had "no operating role" in Rosemont Seneca, and that he was not involved in any of Rosemont's deals in China (which contradicts Schweizer's report in his book Secret Empires).

Chris Heinz was involved in Rosemont Capital. Rosemont Seneca was established under the same GP as Rosemont Capital, but Chris Heinz had no operating role in it. Chris and his family have no financial interest or investment in Bohai Harvest RST, he has never traveled to China, and he has never met with the firm's Chinese management team or investors.

2019

In October 2019, Hunter Biden's lawyer, George Mesires, said Hunter did not conduct any business on that 2013 trip to Beijing with his Dad.

Mesires said the timing of BHR's business license getting approved was purely coincidental because the paperwork had been submitted months before the Bidens' China trip.

According to Hunter's lawyer, the approval " was not related in any way, shape or form to Hunter's visit."

Hunter Biden finally stepped down from the BHR board last October (2019), but he DID NOT give up his 10% stake in the company.