Failure To Launch

Was she doing something wrong? Her son, Evan, was almost 30 and still living at home. He'd moved back home after graduating college. Vanessa loved having him around and didn’t feel burdened by doing his laundry, cooking for him, or even picking up after him.

That’s what moms do, right? And with today’s economy it can be hard for young people to find good jobs that pay enough to afford an apartment, let alone pay bills and student loan debts.

This was only a temporary thing. Soon he would find a job and be able to move out and be on his own. Of course, that is what she thought when he first moved back. Now she was starting to be filled with doubts if he ever wanted to leave.

He spends so much time out with friends or playing video games. But does she really have a choice? He has no place else to go. That’s what parents are supposed to do right? Support their children?

What could a mom do in this situation? You can’t possibly just kick your own son to the curb. But he also can’t live with mom and dad forever either. How will he find a nice girl to settle down with if he lives at home? Maybe that’s the answer. He needs to find a girl; that will motivate him to find his own place and move out.

This scene is something many are probably familiar with. The concept was even put into a movie with Matthew McConaughey, titled Failure to Launch. People aged 18 and into their 30s are moving back home with their parents because they lack the necessary skills of becoming an adult.

The movie with Matthew McConaughey makes light of the situation in a nice little romantic comedy style movie. But for many, this is a real issue that many young people face today of struggling to find their independence and forging their own path in life.

According to Psychology Today, “One of the most significant developments in America today is the failure of millions of young people—even those fully employed—to fully launch into adult life. November, for example, brought a report that 45 percent of young adults in New Jersey between the ages 18 and 34 now live with their parents—even though they are employed.

Failure-to-launch is the collective name for the difficulties so many young people today are having in assuming the self-sufficiency and responsibilities of adulthood, and it is a rapidly growing problem.”

So what are parents supposed to do? How do you help your children to gain their independence and get out on their own without just shoving them out the door?

How Do We Address It?

Children that have failed to launch often have mental and emotional issues that prevent them from moving forward in life. These issues, along with anxiety about loans, bills, careers, etc. drain their motivation freezing them in a negative situation. This can further lower their self-esteem, depression and other mental health issues creating a vicious cycle, trapping them in a childlike place.

While the movie Failure to Launch may make light of the situation and presents a solution to getting your adult child out of the house, it probably isn’t a practical or helpful solution. According to an article in the Huffington Post, “The person should be given clear responsibilities and face natural consequences if he or she does not live up to the responsibility. Organizational coaches can be employed to help the individual establish plans that would assist in accomplishing goals such as finding a part-time job and managing money.

Individual therapy can be of great benefit to address doubts about the person’s own sense of effectiveness and ambivalence about entering adulthood. Therapy can also help a person to increase awareness of emotions and the ability to communicate them effectively. Finally, medications to treat underlying symptoms of attention, anxiety and depression can be helpful if prescribed judiciously.”

So how is a parent supposed to go about getting their child into therapy and giving them more responsibility? Do you just tell them to get their act together? That probably wouldn’t be helpful. But, there are things that parents can do to assist their children leaving the house in a positive and constructive manner. Here are a few tips to changing things in your home and helping your child to finally gain independence and launch.

Parent Tips

Stop enabling them. If they get free rent, laundry services, a cook, a maid, etc., why would they leave? They most likely won’t. That doesn’t mean you need to just dump them on the doorstep, but help build their responsibilities while they are there. If they don’t know, use this as a teaching moment on how to do laundry or what things to look for when searching for an apartment.

Be a partner. Sometimes the anxiety of living on their own could be what is preventing them from moving out. Make sure that they understand that you are there to support them, but not take care of everything for them. If they need advice or help finding a job, an apartment, or even how to handle money, let them know that you are available.

Baby steps, not babying.  These are grown adults and babying will not help them gain independence. But also setting harsh expectations and pushing them too much could be detrimental as well. Many people will say that, “He just needs a good kick in the pants.” But failure to launch often is caused by other mental issues. So making small adjustments at first will help them to feel a sense of accomplishment and that they can do more if they put their mind to it.

Communication is key. Changes, especially to habits that have formed over years, can be difficult to deal with. Being open with everyone and honest about how people feel is important to the success of helping your child gain independence. Don’t just suddenly stop doing things for them without explanation. Set the expectation first, then begin to make those adjustments and continue to communicate through the whole process.

See a therapist. Sometimes, even when there is good communication, talking through things with your family can be hard. Whether you are a parent of an adult child at home or you’ve moved back in with your parents, things can get awkward when you try and discuss them with the family. Or they may just not know the best way to handle certain situations. Seeing someone outside the relationship to discuss and work through difficult times can be beneficial for everyone.

Professional Help

There are often a lot of connotations to seeing a shrink, or going to a therapist. But the benefits to working through these with someone that has studied and experienced all kinds of mental health issues are enormous. 

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. That is why it is just as vital to see a therapist when you need it like you would a medical doctor if you are feeling sick or are injured.

At Mindful Therapy Group we handle a wide range of issues from sexuality, depression, anxiety, and even issues with finding independence or purpose. Our highly qualified providers handle all kinds of cases and have backgrounds in all different areas.

We would love to talk to you and if you are struggling with this or any other issue we are hear for you. To learn more about all our providers and get matched up with one that fits you, click the link: http://www.mindfultherapygroup.com/northgate-therapists/