Failure to launch is when a child becomes an adult (i.e. over 18 years old) but doesn’t move forward with being more independent from their parents. We are not talking about the young adult who is going to college or technical training to prepare for a career or is working any job they can find. Rather it is when the young adult child graduates high school then doesn’t step up to take more responsibility for their own expenses and life choices.
Of course we are not referring to the extended family system where everyone contributes in some way and benefits the whole family by sharing the living expenses and areas. We also are not referring to situations where the young adult children living with their parents is typical in their culture. We are referring to situations where the young adult child living with their parents is causing problems in their relationship with their parents or the situation is not preparing the young adult to be able to be on their own in this world after the parents have died.
The failure to launch situation often involves the parents presenting for help because they are frustrated and at a loss as to how to help their young adult child to be able to move forward with their life and move out on their own. Sometimes it is the young adult child who presents for help when they are conflicted with the current situation but have some things that are holding them back from launching. The best option is when both the parents and the young adult child present for help.
Typically there are a few common factors that have contributed to their child growing up and not becoming independent. Usually the young adult either doesn’t want to move out or they believe they can’t make it on their own so they don’t. There are about 6 common reasons I see in my practice on why a child grows up and doesn’t launch to independence. The next several blogs will cover some of those typical situations. The first step to resolving this dilemma of course, is to acknowledge that it is causing problems in your relationships. Remember, our job as a parent is to prepare our children to be productive functioning members of society. So….. are they?
Clearing Your Head and Healing Your Heart
Putting the Pieces Together (So We Make Sense of Ourselves, Others and Our World)
Lois Zsarnay, LMFT, BCPC, RD
Family Therapy Ventura, California
©2015 Lois Zsarnay, LMFT, BCPC, RD