Twenty-four million of those aged 18 to 34, lived under their parents’ roof in 2015, according to the US Census. That’s a third of young people! There has been a definitive cultural shift resulting in more young adults living with their parents. Fear of failure in American teens and young adults, causes them to delay independence, thus creating a major stumbling block in our otherwise success-driven society. Often, this age group is referred to as emerging adults, based on the delay in their transition from dependence to independence. Even their language reflects this shift as the term “adulting” is used to describe moments of responsible behavior. Growing up is viewed as an optional choice rather than a necessity of life.
Failure to launch syndrome is the unofficial name for an increasingly common problem among young adults who are either ill-prepared or unwilling to leave the family home and begin their life journey toward an independent life. The increase in this phenomenon coincides with a rise in mental health issues faced by children and teens. 22 percent of American teens experience a significant mental health issue before age 18. These same teens typically demonstrate a history of difficulty with independent learning in academic or social areas or with stress management. To achieve success with tasks and academic endeavors, they often needed extra support. Some might even master academic skills well enough to get good grades, yet struggle with independent living skills.
An increase in failure to launch syndrome correlates with changes in parenting that rejects promoting independent behaviors and prioritizes stress avoidance. Our culture has embraced a style of parenting that shields children from discomfort; thus depriving young adults of valuable experience managing the sometimes uncomfortable feelings that come with independence.
Wendy Mogel’s groundbreaking book, “Blessing of a Skinned Knee” discusses a child ’s need to experience failure to develop the ability to manage frustration which ultimately builds self-control and independence. Failure to launch adult children often have a history of low-stress tolerance and well-meaning parents inadvertently contribute to their child’s fear of failure. As these teens or young adults enter the workforce or attempt to go to school, they often experience failure due to immature self-regulatory skills. There’s no calling a tutor for work, and a college professor isn’t going to modify the curriculum.
Symptoms of failure to launch include more than just an obvious desire to not leave home and be cared for by a parent. Young adults with FLS often display anxiety that affects how they deal with stress, interact with others, and take action. They are often immobilized by fear to the point that are unwilling to do anything that puts them outside of their comfort zone.
Common Failure to Launch Behaviors
There are many reasons young adults struggle to transition to adulthood. Young people with FLS display delayed maturation in areas that prevent them from leaving the nest. They often lack the healthy social and coping skills required to successfully step out on their own. Many of these children experienced significant delays achieving social, emotional, or learning milestones, while for others, the fear of independence surfaced later in life.
The ability to self-regulate begins as an infant. For many young adults who fail to launch, managing stress has been a challenge their entire life. Parents wait with bated breath for maturity to develop, erroneously thinking it will happen when they go off to college or gain employment. Unfortunately, there is no single trigger or magic moment for this life skill. If one doesn’t learn to manage stress independently, then life remains hard.
Failure to launch young adults emotionally and financially drain their aging parents. Not only do they require the attention and support of a much younger child, but their lack of independence appears to have no end. What can a parent do to break this cycle? Fortunately, there are interventions that can help a family with a failure to launch a young adult child. We discuss them in our next blog, What to do with a Failure to Launch Child.
Join us in Ridgefield, CT for our FREE Workshop, Helping my Failure to Launch Young Adult, on Saturday, April 6th at 10 am.
To make an appointment with Dr. Roseann to discuss how our center can help your failure to launch child or how one of our clinically effective and natural therapies for anxiety, depression, Dyslexia, LD, and ADHD such as Neurofeedback, Biofeedback, Executive Functioning coaching, parent coaching or behavioral support can help you or your child, or to meet with one of our psychotherapists call 203.826.2999 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Live out of state? We work with children, individuals, and families at our clinic through our intensive therapies 360° Reboot® Program.
Dr. Roseann is a Psychologist and Therapist and our center provide expert-level care for children, adults, and families from all over the US, supporting them with research-based and holistic therapies that are bridged with neuroscience. She is a Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS) and Epidemic Answers, Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), Connecticut Counseling Association (CCA), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
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