Ten years ago, Matthew McConaughey played a young man whose parents were desperate to get him out of the house. Sarah Jessica Parker starred with McConaughey in this comedy, aptly titled, “Failure to Launch.” Parker’s character was supposed to give McConaughey the impetus to move out and start a life on his own. If only it were that simple. Although there were a lot of jokes at McConaughey’s character’s expense, the struggle is a real epidemic.
A Complex Problem
Failure to launch is a real syndrome that affects young emerging adults, especially men, who are aged 18 to 26. It can be described simply as an adult child who is living at home, still highly dependent on his parents. The movie might have been amusing, but in real life, the problem can be isolating and shameful. Children who are experiencing failure to launch often find themselves without a community of support when they need it the most, and it can feel as if they are out of sync with their friends. There is tension with family, as parents are often criticized for enabling or being weak The condition is often misunderstood by the community at large; failure to launch is often seen as an issue of character or motivation, but it often has many other layers that go far beyond character.
Failure to launch is a complex predicament. It can often begin in adolescence and develop into a larger issue as social pressures of developing independence weigh on the family unit. After high school, attention or learning problems can often get in the way of success in college. Parents often do not allow their teens to experience the consequences of their actions or allow children to function independently. For many emerging adults, entering college can be a great time, but it can also be hard to manage new found freedom, more responsibilities and new relationships without familial support. When younger adults have undiagnosed mental health conditions, it can exacerbate the problem.
Treatment should never involve blaming a failure to launch scenario on parents or mental illness. Of course, to find solutions, the root of the problem must be addressed. Instead of blame, these children have to accept accountability for their current place in life and figure out how to move forward as an adult.
Treatment Is Available
Just as failure to launch has many facets, treatment has to be multifaceted, too. Families have to learn new ways to approach problems and navigate new relationships with adult children. There may be mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorders, that need to be diagnosed and treated. If the adult child is dealing with substance abuse, that too, will need to be addressed.
Individual, group, and family therapy can all benefit emerging adults who are struggling. There may be underlying doubts and ambivalence about how to manage the transition into adulthood. Personal coaches who help adults set goals and make plans to accomplish those goals can be beneficial. Some adult children may need financial planners who can assist with managing money. Each person who is dealing with a failure to launch will need to address specific issues that are keeping them from becoming adults in their own right.
If you need help becoming the man you want to be, contact us at Waypointe for more information about our program.