Failure to Launch: Why It Happens and How to Fix It

adult child experiencing failure to launch and playing video games

Failure to launch refers to highly-dependent adult children who are still relying on their parents to care for them. Individuals with failure to launch syndrome have little desire to seek employment or contribute financially and tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. Many factors can contribute to a child’s failure to launch, including overparenting, family trauma, and mental health issues.

Setting Boundaries

Every home and family should have boundaries, especially for stay-at-home adult children. Have them set their own responsibilities and let the natural progression of consequences unfold. Services such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry should not be provided to an adult child living at home. Expect them to maintain a career, contribute to the bills (if applicable), and help out around the house.

Another potential cause for failure to launch syndrome is worshipping your child. This behavior can lead to failure to launch if the child is being consistently rewarded for their lack of contribution to the family or the financial burdens of the household. Parents don’t do their adult children any favors when they allow them to enjoy the benefits of living at home without having any responsibilities.

Mental Health Issues

Many mental health issues can have a correlation to failure to launch, such as a history of anxiety. This could cause a child leaving high school to struggle with maintaining friendships or being in crowded areas such as a college or workplace.

Anxiety in adult children often presents itself as social isolation, an inability to maintain a career or educational pursuits, and spending copious amounts of time sleeping or being in their room. There are other mental health disorders that can inhibit emotional maturity, such as ADHD or OCD.

An adult child with these conditions or who does not manage stress well might lack the necessary skills to achieve independence — financial or otherwise. They should be set up with an organizational coach and mental health services to create a long-term plan to help the child find their own living accommodations, career, money management goals, and independence.

Instant Gratification

Children who grew up in the age of technology are often taught to expect instant gratification — after all, they can search and buy anything they could possibly want on the internet. Being able to watch any video, learn anything, listen to music, watch movies, and work online with a simple click has been detrimental in many ways.

Instead of sitting with discomfort and learning resiliency, children have learned to find comfort in social media and technology rather than the real world. All of this has led to a lack of motivation for many young people, who struggle to pursue a long-term career or educational goals.

These cannot simply be attained whenever they want them — they must be earned and worked for, which some adult children don’t have the social maturity to handle. Parents should also be aware of signs of narcissism and an overall disregard for others.

If an adult child is often praised and told how smart and unique they are without being held accountable, they could develop entitlement or a narcissistic personality. A child who has failed to launch often feels entitled to what they want simply because they want it.

It is crucial to set boundaries with your child and not give in to any narcissistic requests. This can be addressed by having a frank discussion about their refusal to take responsibility for themselves. Let your child know what you will or will not do for them. It’s okay to comfort your child and affirm that their feelings of fear and discomfort are normal when leaving home.

Assure them that they can always come to visit or stop in if they need a break. But it is vital for them to take responsibility for their lives, as it will teach them who they are and who they can potentially grow to be.

Fortunately, some interventions can help a family with an adult child who has failed to launch syndrome. Achieve Concierge is committed to the concept that real healing involves treating all aspects of the individual, not just the label of a particular diagnosis. By engaging the patient on multiple levels of care, this collaborative approach guides and enhances successful treatment. Our specialists are prepared to create a plan that will help your child succeed. To get started, call us today at (619) 393-5871.

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