Audience Sounds Off On Child Caregivers, College Debt

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Listeners and bloggers to Tell Me More have their say related to recent stories on youngsters who find themselves serving as primary caregivers for ailing parents, and parents who disagree that a child's college education is worth incurring family debt.

CHERYL CORLEY, Host:

And now it's time for Backtalk where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. So, Lee Hill, TELL ME MORE's digital media guy is here. Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Cheryl, and welcome back to Backtalk. Well, Monday we had a conversation about young children who find themselves caring for ailing parents and that was part of our weekly segment Behind Closed Doors. We heard from a 12-year-old who's become a primary caregiver for his mother who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Now, Cheryl, we asked our listeners to write to us and call us with their own stories about care giving. And Cookie called to tell us about her experience.

COOKIE: I, at that same age, went to live with my grandmother to take care of her because she was dying of cancer. It was hard. I had to bathe her, feed her and just take care of her fully. So I did it. And as I look back, I don't feel like I missed out of anything. I guess you do what you have to do for good reasons and out of love and let God take care of the rest.

CORLEY: Thank you for adding to the story, Cookie. Moving on to a very different story about kids, this week, the moms in our weekly parenting segment talked about motivating children to study hard. Well, that friendly chat eventually grew into a more heated discussion about whether parents or kids should go into debt to afford whatever college they choose, no matter how expensive.

Here's a clip of that debate between the guest mom we had on the show, Michelle Singletary and one of our regular moms, Jolene Ivey.

MICHELLE SINGLETARY: I went to a state school, and I'm doing just fine. So I think that it's important that you don't give your kid a blank check to go to college.

JOLENE IVEY: I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one, Michelle, because if there's one thing I think it's worth going into debt for, if you have to, it is whatever college the kid gets into...

SINGLETARY: That's absolutely ridiculous.

IVEY: Well, maybe you think so, but let me...

SINGLETARY: That is a ridiculous...

IVEY: May I finish my statements?

CORLEY: Let her finish. Let her finish.

IVEY: Now, my oldest child, who was an excellent student, who worked really hard all the way through high school and got excellent grades, and he got into a fabulous university. And we're doing all we can to get him through that school. And so far we've been able to do it without massive debt.

HILL: Well, not so surprisingly, that exchange stirred our bloggers and here's a post from Ivan. I'm very surprised by Michelle Singletary's attitude about borrowing for college. I think she's dead wrong. A college degree is an investment whose return is measured for years.

Now, while I do agree with parents not going into sizeable debt to fund their child's education, I think it's smart for students to take out loans for college. Well, thanks, Ivan, but not everybody agrees. Here's a post from blogger, David. I agree with Ms. Singletary, regarding her philosophy on not borrowing to go to college.

If you're motivated and understand that having a good education doesn't mean having to nurse a huge amount of debt, it doesn't matter if you're attending Yale or a state college.

CORLEY: Well, thank you very much for that, David. Lee, any story updates for us?

HILL: Yes, well, listeners know we've been following news about pop star Chris Brown and his girlfriend, R&B singer Rihanna. Brown was arrested last month because he allegedly assaulted Rihanna during an argument they had hours before the Grammy Awards ceremony.

Well, Brown was charged with two felonies yesterday, in connection with the incident, assault and criminal threats. Now, we've been talking about some of the issues raised by this case, and our listeners should stay tuned for more updates and conversations soon.

CORLEY: All right. Well, thank you very much, Lee.

HILL: Cheryl, it's always a pleasure.

CORLEY: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about what you think, you can call our comment line at area code 202- 842-3522. That number again, 202-842-3522. Remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our webpage. Go to npr.org, click on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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