# More Millennial households in the US are in poverty

Hi everyone. I thought I'd point out some disturbing news related to the Millennial generation (those born in 1980 and afterwards) in the US.

What is striking is how this is not causing greater alarm with the broad fabric of American society that the younger generation has fewer opportunities for advancement and are living in poverty (Please note: I will not discuss the politics about this due to PF rules on political discussion).

Grands

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russ_watters
Mentor
...that the younger generation has fewer opportunities for advancement...
I don't see this in the article. Could you please cite/quote it specifically.

All I see is the trivially obvious fact that younger people make less money than older people because they are younger (and have less experience).

I don't see any cross-generational, age-levelized comparison at all (what the Baby Boomer poverty rate was when they were the millenials' age).

I don't see this in the article. Could you please cite/quote it specifically.

All I see is the trivially obvious fact that younger people make less money than older people because they are younger (and have less experience).

I don't see any cross-generational, age-levelized comparison at all (what the Baby Boomer poverty rate was when they were the millenials' age).
By definition, people who live in poverty have fewer opportunities for advancement. It is a truism that (in spite of all the Horatio Alger stories of the "American Dream") that breaking out of poverty is a very difficult path that is frequently not attainable for the majority of those living in poverty.

I should also add that the Pew Research article states the following: "The relatively high number of Millennial households in poverty reflects the fact that the poverty rate among households headed by a young adult has been rising over the past half century while dramatically declining among households headed by those 65 and older."

Also take a look at the following article from Pew (a link to it was provided in the above quote):

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/11/07/the-rising-age-gap-in-economic-well-being/

russ_watters
Mentor
By definition, people who live in poverty have fewer opportunities for advancement.
No, that isn't what "poverty" is; that's mobility. Two different things. By definition, poverty it is simply the state of having less, regardless of where you came from or where you are going or what your odds are of moving. That's not defined in the article, but we have discussed it plenty in the past.

It should be trivially obvious that people make more money as they get older. Is that not obvious to you?
I should also add that the Pew Research article states the following: "The relatively high number of Millennial households in poverty reflects the fact that the poverty rate among households headed by a young adult has been rising over the past half century while dramatically declining among households headed by those 65 and older."

Also take a look at the following article from Pew (a link to it was provided in the above quote):

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/11/07/the-rising-age-gap-in-economic-well-being/
You're right, I missed that. That appears to me to be more in line with what you really want to discuss, so please provide your analysis of what that article says to you.

Staff Emeritus
2019 Award
Here is half that - the poverty rate among the elderly.

Granted, this is the first time I head that this fall was a bad thing, but this is the data.

(I'm looking for the equivalent for young adults, but so far everything is keyed on poverty being defined as a fraction of the median income. That's not poverty; that's inequality)

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nitsuj and russ_watters
russ_watters
Mentor
Here is half that - the poverty rate among the elderly.

View attachment 217855

Granted, this is the first time I head that this fall was a bad thing, but this is the data.

(I'm looking for the equivalent for young adults, but so far everything is keyed on poverty being defined as a fraction of the median income. That's not poverty; that's inequality)
Part of the picture:

This may not be broken down enough, but it does say that irrespective of the continued improvements for older people, the poverty rate for working age people ticked-up around 1980 and has remained pretty constant since (irrespective of the great recession blip). I'm trying to hold back from another of my old-people-are-stealing-from-young-people-via-social-security rants...

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Hi everyone. I thought I'd point out some disturbing news related to the Millennial generation (those born in 1980 and afterwards) in the US.

What is striking is how this is not causing greater alarm with the broad fabric of American society that the younger generation has fewer opportunities for advancement and are living in poverty (Please note: I will not discuss the politics about this due to PF rules on political discussion).
Same problem in Italy.....

gleem
What is striking is how this is not causing greater alarm with the broad fabric of American society that the younger generation has fewer opportunities for advancement and are living in poverty
Certainly not to me from this article. Poverty is given in total numbers of each generation but millennials are more numerous than Xers or Boomers.. About not owning a home, Millennials tend not to marry early and if living with parents or cohabiting would not generally want to own a house.

The article http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/us/baby-boomer-generation-fast-facts/index.html looks at all the generations with some interesting info.

Of particular interest is that young adults of 2015 make $2000 less than 1980 even though millennials are more likely to have a college degree. On top of that the Consumer Price Index (measure of Inflation) was 82.4 in 1980 but 240 in 2016 and increase of 191% so it is actually surprising that millennials are not struggling more . But his has to have an effect on the choice they make. Grands russ_watters Mentor Of particular interest is that young adults of 2015 make$2000 less than 1980 even though millennials are more likely to have a college degree.
Clicking through the link, I see that the numbers are not for 2015, that's just the year the study was done. The numbers for millenials are from 2009-2013. I'm not sure why it is a range, but it should be obvious that using data from the depth of the Great Recession skews those results. The US median income was around $4,000 higher in 2016 than the average of 2009-13. On top of that the Consumer Price Index (measure of Inflation) was 82.4 in 1980 but 240 in 2016 and increase of 191% so it is actually surprising that millennials are not struggling more . But his has to have an effect on the choice they make. All numbers we're discussing are inflation adjusted. Otherwise it would be impossible to make comparisons. Here is half that - the poverty rate among the elderly. View attachment 217855 That's not poverty; that's inequality I think it was you that some time ago pointed out to me that poverty is a moving bar. Poverty today to poverty 30yrs ago is HUGELY different. This continued measure imo shows that "poverty" (in the US) now ain't so bad lol StoneTemplePython Science Advisor Gold Member 2019 Award I read through the Pew article though it didn't do that much for me. However I did not look through CNN article. All numbers we're discussing are inflation adjusted. Otherwise it would be impossible to make comparisons. It's worth nitpicking 'inflation adjustment' for the moment as its germane to the thread. The market basket of goods purchased by young people doesn't match up with CPI. In particular more young people are going to college and the cost of 4 year college is radically higher than it was 3 - 4 decades ago -- this and the associated debt burden is a huge budget item for young people. The situation of course gets worse if people enroll and borrow the money but don't complete the degree. Put differently, a big idea is: college costs compound at a rate much higher than CPI and they are not an insignificant budget item for young people. I'm willing to guess the inflation adjustment done was CPI related -- or something close to that-- not very close to reflecting the cost of actual goods 'consumed' by this age group. Economists will call this 'Ricardian vice' and generally look the other way. russ_watters and nitsuj russ_watters Mentor It's worth nitpicking 'inflation adjustment' for the moment as its germane to the thread. The market basket of goods purchased by young people doesn't match up with CPI. In particular more young people are going to college and the cost of 4 year college is radically higher than it was 3 - 4 decades ago -- this and the associated debt burden is a huge budget item for young people. This is true. It is very difficult to keep the CPI applicable over time and across demographics. The only way around that that I know of is to dig deeper into statistics on direct measures of standard of living, such as house size, market penetration of TVs and air conditioning, etc. These are tracked over time, but as far as I know are not broken down by age. The problem, though I've seen most often cited as an indicator of lower current standard of living, can actually go either way. Young people today pay more for college than people did decades ago, but they can still afford bigger houses, bigger and more TVs, computers/cell phones, better cars, etc. In addition, college is an investment, which still has a positive rate of return. So while going to college often means spending more money when you're young, you get that money back and then some, so the net effect on your life is a positive, not a negative, even if it is less positive than it used to be. bhobba StoneTemplePython Science Advisor Gold Member 2019 Award This is true. It is very difficult to keep the CPI applicable over time and across demographics. The only way around that that I know of is to dig deeper into statistics on direct measures of standard of living, such as house size, market penetration of TVs and air conditioning, etc. These are tracked over time, but as far as I know are not broken down by age. The problem, though I've seen most often cited as an indicator of lower current standard of living, can actually go either way. Young people today pay more for college than people did decades ago, but they can still afford bigger houses, bigger and more TVs, computers/cell phones, better cars, etc. I basically agree, esp with bolded part. This stuff gets devilishly complicated without clear predictions to keep score by, which is one of the reasons I got disenchanted with econ stuff like this a while ago. I'm not sure about the houses comment -- to the extent smart young people want to live in urban areas, particularly urban coastal ones with the most opportunity, I think housing costs have shot up (rent or buy) a lot more than inflation, basically due to NIMBYism and misc zoning issues. This is another composite type issue. I haven't poked around enough here though. (Stepping outside the US, this is a major issue in London vs everywhere else in UK -- jobs in London with but very pricey land.) In addition, college is an investment, which still has a positive rate of return. So while going to college often means spending more money when you're young, you get that money back and then some, so the net effect on your life is a positive, not a negative, even if it is less positive than it used to be. From a decision-making standpoint, this is right -- again assuming you graduate. But it addresses an issue different than, what (I think) was being raised. I think the mental model was older generations got a huge surplus when they went to college, and younger generations get slimmer surplus these days. People are unhappy when they find out some other group got a bigger surplus. It's human nature, I suppose. russ_watters russ_watters Mentor I'm not sure about the houses comment -- to the extent smart young people want to live in urban areas, particularly urban coastal ones with the most opportunity, I think housing costs have shot up... They have. But I said housing size. I suppose as an inflation measure, you'd want cost per square foot so you're comparing equal houses over time. That's remained remarkably consistent. But house size in general has gone up 40% and per person has doubled in the past 40 years. So for inflation, the amount of "housing" in the CPI "basket" should be twice what it was 40 years ago. I don't know if it actually is. http://www.aei.org/publication/toda...ce-per-person-has-doubled-over-last-40-years/ That link is new homes, but I think the same applies to apartments and condos. Can't be sure. People are unhappy when they find out some other group got a bigger surplus. It's human nature, I suppose. Agreed.  Incidentally, I think housing is the best one-stop measure of standard of living of anything we buy. It is by far our largest single expense and its elastic (unlike, say, food, which a little more does little for you but a little less is a disaster). Last edited: Evo Mentor Addressing the housing issues, I am a baby boomer and due to common sense bought a home where I could afford one, which was way out in the suburbs, meaning a two hour one way commute to work, obviously I car pooled. Yes, I started driving at 5am, I had kids to get to day care first. I got home around 8pm. I was watching a show on tv the other day about home buying and this husband turned down the PERFECT house because it had a ONE WAY 30 minute commute! It was too long! THAT's a problem I see with millenials. Lazy and self centered! (Not all mind you, many are normal.) They paid a LOT more for less house that they didn't like nearly as much, no large yard for the kids to play, and would need thousands of dollars in renovations, but was less of a drive for him. He didn't want to be "inconvenienced". But it was downtown, in a busy area, not good for the kids, noisy, dangerous, but he didn't have to drive. He was happy, family, not happy. bhobba StoneTemplePython Science Advisor Gold Member 2019 Award They have. But I said housing size. I suppose as an inflation measure, you'd want cost per square foot so you're comparing equal houses over time. That's remained remarkably consistent. But house size in general has gone up 40% and per person has doubled in the past 40 years. So for inflation, the amount of "housing" in the CPI "basket" should be twice what it was 40 years ago. I don't know if it actually is. http://www.aei.org/publication/toda...ce-per-person-has-doubled-over-last-40-years/ That link is new homes, but I think the same applies to apartments and condos. Can't be sure. You've piqued my interest, so I may chase some more data down, not sure. (These chases have a habit of dead-ending with inconclusive evidence though.) The data you are citing is clearly about newbuild housing. US Population has grown about 50% since 1973 (i.e. old population is about 2/3 of current) . I don't think it follows that average housing 'consumption' has doubled per person if you're using newbuilds as a your ruler. A quick calculation would suggest that its certainly possible less than half of the population lives in new housing. On top of this there's a mixture problem -- apartments (not covered in link I don't think) vs housing. The sampling / underlying data for new houses skews towards places with lots of land that aren't over-run by NIMBYs though. One mental model is for older people who own and have a windfall in say Bay Area to sell (or rent) their old house to a younger family and retire in Arizona in newly constructed house. Appallingly little new construction in the Bay Area. Perhaps more surprisingly is it's also a big problem in LA. But I'm not trying to sidetrack this thread about messes in California. For technical issues like this, it gets very complicated very quickly and you have to be extremely careful. Someone, e.g. an economist, close to the data who has an agenda (or a strong ideological filter) can easily manipulate you. A couple red flags from that link: 1.) The first chart on that link really irks me -- there are very clear zero values and it ignores -- generally this seems manipulative to me. (If they want to show geometric growth, a log transform is fine but that isn't what they did.) Truncating the axes like the author did is quite common in marketing... but in scholarship? 2.) Isn't American Enterprise Institute too biased to rely on as a credible source of information? It has a partisan axe to grind-- for starters Lynne Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz both work there. russ_watters Mentor The data you are citing is clearly about newbuild housing. US Population has grown about 50% since 1973 (i.e. old population is about 2/3 of current) . I don't think it follows that average housing 'consumption' has doubled per person if you're using newbuilds as a your ruler. A quick calculation would suggest that its certainly possible less than half of the population lives in new housing. Well, no: nobody lives in a "new" house. Every occupied house has a non-zero age. What my logic requires is only that the house size increase has been consistent over a long enough time that the trend covers all houses. If the average life of a house is 40 years and a new house today is 40% larger than a new house in 1977, then a new house in 1977 also had to be 40% larger than a new house in 1937. And on the other end, an average house torn down in 2017 was that new house in 1977. And it's 40% larger than a house torn down in 1977 but built in 1937. My gut tells me the trend probably did hold back as far as the late 1930s. If nothing else, the post-WWII economic boom would have made houses a lot larger than houses built during or just after the Great Depression. But it is speculation. On top of this there's a mixture problem -- apartments (not covered in link I don't think) vs housing. Yes, this is only really houses. I don't have any actual data for apartments and condos. Again my gut tells me there have been increases there as well, otherwise it would cause a widening disconnect between houses and apartments that shouldn't be sustainable economically. Appallingly little new construction in the Bay Area. Well, again: the size of the house itself is actually only 40% of the issue. The other 60% (house size per person has gone up 40+60=100%) is due to smaller households. So an old house in San Francisco can get "bigger" by having fewer people living in it. 1.) The first chart on that link really irks me -- there are very clear zero values and it ignores -- generally this seems manipulative to me. (If they want to show geometric growth, a log transform is fine but that isn't what they did.) Truncating the axes like the author did is quite common in marketing... but in scholarship? It can be manipulative, but I do it all the time to make it easier to read the graph (in engineering). It helps that the title of the article is right above it and very on-point. 2.) Isn't American Enterprise Institute too biased to rely on as a credible source of information? It has a partisan axe to grind-- for starters Lynne Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz both work there. I found the article via google and am not familiar. The source data is from the Census Bureau, so I don't see an issue -- unfortunately, the Census Bureau is great for raw data, not so much for presentation of it. Heck, most times we talk about incomes, I take the most recent spreadsheet from the Census Bureau (they provide in XLS format) and graph it myself for posting here! But as these things go, I think the article is pretty good: everything above the "Bottom Line" is purely factual, so they clearly differentiate between facts and analysis/opinion. You don't always get that. It is certainly better sourced and presented than what is typical in "news" articles. bhobba Mentor I was watching a show on tv the other day about home buying and this husband turned down the PERFECT house because it had a ONE WAY 30 minute commute! It was too long! THAT's a problem I see with millenials. Lazy and self centered! (Not all mind you, many are normal.) They paid a LOT more for less house that they didn't like nearly as much, no large yard for the kids to play, and would need thousands of dollars in renovations, but was less of a drive for him. He didn't want to be "inconvenienced". But it was downtown, in a busy area, not good for the kids, noisy, dangerous, but he didn't have to drive. He was happy, family, not happy. Many including myself have noticed that one. While working as a programmer in Australia's Child Support Agency, I had, as part of what I had to do, the job of producing the relevant stats. While I was not a statistician, I had advanced statistical training so was often called upon to help interpret the results. That was one that stood out strongly. Millennials were making more selfish life choices. You could see, for example, older divorced Australians took their obligations more seriously than younger ones. They tried all sorts of 'dirty' tricks to get out of paying it. One was really interesting. We had asked this company to deduct the CSA payments from an employers wage (its called Employer Withholding) - but it was never done. Anyway someone went out there to see what was going on. It turned out the young pay clerk was the person whose money was to be taken out and simply never processed it He didn't care a hoot. Why should I pay - that relationship is over - I need to move on - the government should pay. That was the common attitude of younger people - they think the government is an endless source of money that should solve all their problems - no self responsibility needed. It goes of course without saying its a statistical thing - simply more people with that attitude amongst millennials - not everyone had that attitude, nor are all baby boomers lily white. Thanks Bill Last edited: Evo Evo Mentor Many including myself have noticed that one. While working as a programmer in Australia's Child Support Agency, I had, as part of what I had to do, the job of producing the relevant stats. While I was not a statistician, I had advanced statistical training so was often called upon to help interpret the results. That was one that stood out strongly. Millennials were making more selfish life choices. You could see, for example, older divorced Australians took their obligations more seriously than younger ones. They tried all sorts of 'dirty' tricks to get out of paying it. One was really interesting. We had asked this company to deduct the CSA payments from an employers wage (its called Employer Withholding) - but it was never done. Anyway someone went out there to see what was going on. It turned out the young pay clerk was the person whose money was to be taken out and simply never processed it He didn't care a hoot. Why should I pay - that relationship is over - I need to move on - the government should pay. That was the common attitude of younger people - they think the government is an endless source of money that should solve all their problems - no self responsibility needed. It goes of course without saying its a statistical thing - simply more people with that attitude amongst millennials - not everyone had that attitude, not are all baby boomers lily white. Thanks Bill I also see that more and more. Not making me feeling sympathy for the millenials. My generation was drafted in war. They aren't. I feel they should be kissing the ground they walk on. bhobba bhobba Mentor I also see that more and more. Not making me feeling sympathy for the millenials. My generation was drafted in war. They aren't. Its a fact jack. That's why regardless of if you like whoever is your president, PM or whatever it's called where you live, the Millennials when they become the majority will vote for whoever gives them the most goodies. Forget issues like paying down dept - bracket creep will probably fix it anyway - but they will not like the tax they pay - interesting to see how future politicians handle that one - out here in Aus politicians generally don't want to touch it - even when directly asked - it is too much of a hot potato. I am 63 this year with significant health issues - I will be dead when it really bites - but bite it will. Me - I have an entirely different attitude - I am entitled to all sorts of government benefits such as some free trips to the physiotherapist, podiatrist etc, but don't use it - I use my health insurance instead and pay a bit of a gap. Everyone says I am mad - but the way I see it is - this isn't meant for people like me that can afford health insurance - it's meant for those a lot worse off. The young don't see it that way - like I said - they think I am mad. BTW baby boomers are not perfect either - we have many with houses worth millions of dollars, and collect all these benefits because the house is not included in the assets test. Why - I worked hard and paid for it - I deserve it. Yea right - you deserve, while sitting in your multi-million dollar mansion to freeload off others - pull the other one - it plays jingle bells. But pollies will not touch it with a pole 10 foot long - retirees are a huge voting block. Thanks Bill Last edited: Evo Vanadium 50 Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Education Advisor 2019 Award First, let me agree with everyone else about lazy, entitled Millennials. Apart from everything else that has been said, I find them profoundly uncurious. We can even see this here - how many messages have we seen of the form "I might have to learn something with no immediate practical use! The horror!"? Next I'll be saying "You kids! Stay off my grass!" Now that that's been said, as much as I would like to blame this on the poor work ethic of Millennials, I think all of this can be explained by shifting demographics. The 18-34 demographic was 78% white in 1980 and is 57% white today. While poverty has gone down for all age groups (and here is where I wish I could find data with finer binning than 18-64) and both white and non-white, the poverty rate is still higher among non-whites, so the demographic shift in 18-34's towards non-whites is going to cause the poverty fraction to tick upward. Like I said, I don't have numbers binned finely enough to mathematically prove this, but it looks as if much of the effect - at least half, and perhaps even all of it - can be explained by this. A related effect is from illegal immigrants. The age distribution of illegal immigrants doesn't look like the population as a whole, and indeed, is peaked in the 18-34 bin. In 1980, this was about 2% of the 18-34 demographic, and today it's more like 6-8%. Obviously, reliable statistics like this are hard to get hold of, but I don't think anyone doubts the trend, the rough order of magnitude, and the relative scale, at least not very much. This also explains much - more than half - of the effect. Note that there is some overlap with the above, as illegal immigrants are more non-white than the US population as a whole. So when hearing this statistic, we shouldn't be visualizing the 30-something who lives in his parents' basement, drinks$6 soy lattes, and doesn't understand why his degree in art history doesn't get him a better job than barista at Starbucks. To oversimplify, it's not that our young have become poorer, it's that our poor have become younger - more accurately, that the 18-34 group is expanding and much of this expansion is coming from groups with an above-average poverty rate.

Now, "You kids! Stay off my grass!"

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russ_watters and bhobba
gleem
We can even see this here - how many messages have we seen of the form "I might have to learn something with no immediate practical use! The horror!"?
I don't know how old you are but this attitude of only wanting courses that are relevant to current (practical) problems started in the sixties with the Baby Boomers.

This thread started off with the notion that poverty is significant for the younger generation which seems to be generically identified as Millennials. But it was noted that as poor as they might "seem" to be as least some are quite affluent being majority buyer of large homes and automobiles which presumably requires some availability of wealth or a positive outlook on access to future wealth. Looking closer at the period of time that Millennials grew up and the values of their parents it is not surprising that we have an apparent dichotomy. Early Millennials children of Boomer and maybe Silent Gen have different values from later Millennials who are children of Xers. Early Millennials hit adulthood at the Internet bubble with parents who benefited from this economic period. They had access to an economy opening new opportunities at least for a while. Then in 2008 the great recession put a lot of aspirations on hold for these persons but produced barrier to any aspirations of the younger millennials These "younger millennials" are currently generation GenZ born after 1995, HS and college age students in fact the generation that we mostly experience on the forum, children of the X Generation. . Boomer may have given the impression to their children because of the relative economic prosperity of the times that one only needed to try, to succeed. As we know Xer put great emphasis on trying and rewarded their children for participating and only trying.

Anyway the early Millennials are finally attaining their aspirations. The later Millennials and GenZ are still waiting for the American dream if it has not further sidetracked by the insidious influence of social media.

lekh2003 and StatGuy2000
It's interesting how the thread has quickly degenerated from discussing poverty rates among the Millennial generation to how "lazy" and "entitled" these people are. Even though I am technically part of "Generation X" preceding the Millennials, this wholesale condemnation of the Millennials is frankly insulting and backed up by nothing other than all of your own prejudices.

I'm not going to go over all of the threads thus far, but let me start off with @Vanadium 50 's comments first. While I have no issues with paragraphs 3 to 5 in his post #22, he also goes on to say how Millennials are "uncurious". That is a sweeping judgement based on a highly biased sampling of posts here on PF where "I might have to learn something of no practical use....". My experience has been that attitude exists in spades among the Baby Boomers and generations well before them -- this is hardly a trait that is either prevalent in or unique to Millennials.

And frankly, Millennials being "lazy"? I've seen more than my share of people from the Baby Boomers and "Gen X" people who are far more lazy than any of the Millennials who I know who are working themselves off trying to pay off their student loans.

Granted, all of the observations I've made above are anecdotes based on my own personal experiences and observations -- this is a disclaimer I'm making since I am not specifically quoting any research findings as such.

WWGD
Gold Member
2019 Award
It's interesting how the thread has quickly degenerated from discussing poverty rates among the Millennial generation to how "lazy" and "entitled" these people are. Even though I am technically part of "Generation X" preceding the Millennials, this wholesale condemnation of the Millennials is frankly insulting and backed up by nothing other than all of your own prejudices.

I'm not going to go over all of the threads thus far, but let me start off with @Vanadium 50 's comments first. While I have no issues with paragraphs 3 to 5 in his post #22, he also goes on to say how Millennials are "uncurious". That is a sweeping judgement based on a highly biased sampling of posts here on PF where "I might have to learn something of no practical use....". My experience has been that attitude exists in spades among the Baby Boomers and generations well before them -- this is hardly a trait that is either prevalent in or unique to Millennials.

And frankly, Millennials being "lazy"? I've seen more than my share of people from the Baby Boomers and "Gen X" people who are far more lazy than any of the Millennials who I know who are working themselves off trying to pay off their student loans.

Granted, all of the observations I've made above are anecdotes based on my own personal experiences and observations -- this is a disclaimer I'm making since I am not specifically quoting any research findings as such.
Single data point: I don't have data either, but I do have a Millennial friend who has been mooching of his mom for some two years (he has felt tired after school, going on two years now), yet repeatedly tells me how I have to " rough it out" if I want results.I have been biting my tong not to tell him that if I want to learn how to sleep till one and ask my mom for money, I will call him for training.