Retirement. It didn’t turn out quite like you expected. You and your husband planned to be traveling the world; chatting happily in little cafes, and enjoying cocktails on the beach, or admiring the view from your hotel balcony. Unfortunately, you are still working because your unemployed 24-year-old son is still living at home. No matter what you’ve done in the last six years, nothing is lighting a fire in this kid’s belly. He’s a good kid but he’s just not a good adult. Some failure to launch young adults have a long list of issues while others have a few, but all lack the maturity to move forward. In our last blog, we discussed why some young adults fail to launch. Here we explored interventions designed to help not just the FLS child but the whole family.
There is no magic wand to make things better. Taking a hard look at the root cause is the only way to move forward. This step is key because there may be multiple causes. Is there a mental health issue? A neurodevelopmental or physical health issue? Are you enabling? Once you identify issues, you can begin the journey toward change.
Step one in helping a young adult child launch is to address any clinical issues that have been overlooked. If your child has clinical levels of anxiety or depression, a disorder like Autism, a chronic health issues, or is smoking pot every day, then it’s time to seek help. You’re wasting your time trying to get him or her to move beyond this stage without addressing a clinical issue. Finding the right therapist to work with both the adult child and the family is imperative. The right professional guidance is key in rectifying the situation.
With a third of adult children under age 34 living with their parents, you can take comfort in knowing that you aren’t the only one. Now that you know the problem, you need professional help from an experienced therapist. Seek professionals who regularly work with Failure to Launch cases and have a history of success. At our Ridgefield, CT center, we work with parents everyday who struggle with launching their child successfully into the adult world. And in every case, there is a clinical issue as well as a breakdown in family communication. The adult child will continue to burrow without a professional extractor of sorts, aka “a tough therapist”. It takes a team effort involving all parties but success can be realized in a way that moves everyone forward.
Education is a part of growth. You can’t correct a problem you don’t understand. Take time to learn about what contributing factors are delaying your adult child’s emotional growth. This helps you know how best to address them. When we understand why something is happening, it can help us to move forward with less frustration and greater intent.
Parents often put their children first. Seeing your child not living independently and to their fullest potential is stressful. It’s natural to focus on what you can do to help them, without thinking about your own needs. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you aren’t going to have the mental capacity to address this. You need to shift your mindset and realize that change begins with you. A therapist for yourself is a good start. Addressing the strain and stress that you are under is important. If you are going to help your child you need to be at your best.
As annoyed and frustrated as you are with your adult child or other family members that may be enabling, open communication with everyone involved is imperative. If you aren’t communicating, misunderstandings and frustrations increase. This leaves everyone stuck and change becomes impossible. Sometimes communication breaks down to the point that you need outside help to restore it. This isn’t uncommon and it’s not a cause for embarrassment. At our practice, we deal with cases like this often. The good news is a skilled clinician can help open lines of communication so everyone can move forward.
With failure to launch things can seem out of control. Parents can be afraid to set boundaries, especially with their young adult children but that is exactly what they need. Because parents and children often have different expectations,each assumes the other understands. This is a major source of conflict and can contribute to communication breakdowns. By clearly stating your expectations and setting well-defined boundaries, everyone has a shared understanding. That doesn’t mean that your adult child will like these expectations or boundaries. It doesn’t guarantee that they are appropriate for the situation, but being explicit is crucial. Reviewing expectations and boundaries with your trained clinician is key to improving them, and should be part of every family’s plan.
Parents can fall into that trap of providing too much emotional and financial support. As a parent. It is hard to watch your child struggle. The danger of helping too much is that you form an enabling pattern out of love and concern. However, too much extra emotional or financial support works against everyone in the family. This creates resentment. Let everyone know what the new expectations are and be consistent with them!
Yes, your adult child is bright and funny but not everyone who is bright is going to make a million dollars. If your child struggled with daily living tasks like flushing the toilet or making his bed, what makes you think he is going to wake up fully independent the day he turns 18? Wishing that they will live to their potential isn’t enough to encourage successful independence. Guidance, care, and intervention can never be replaced by wishes. The constant pressure to be the best isn’t helpful either. The extreme pressure of high expectations never works with failure to launch kids and in fact, can be damaging causing them to retreat further down the rabbit hole.
With your kid is living at home and not doing anything meaningful with their life, it can be hard to reach out to them. You are so concerned about getting them to help the last thing on your mind is doing something fun and enjoyable with your kid. This, however, is exactly what they need. Connecting with your kid is critical! Especially when communication breaks down and it’s difficult to interact in a healthy way. Finding things you can do together helps to bridge the communication gap. It can be anything from a walk to catching a movie. Finding a common ground is key. This provides a way the issues can be put aside and you both can re-establish a connection.
In a failure to launch situation, the adult child or family is trapped and you need a lifeline. A good therapist can help turn things around. For the failure to launch young adult, a therapist can introduce techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help them learn how to control negative thought patterns and challenge faulty assumptions. Addressing family systems is also an important part of the process. It helps to look at healthy ways you can support your adult child.
Gaining internal motivation is a huge obstacle for the failure to launch young adult. Lack of motivation exists for many reasons, these might be clinical issues like anxiety or depression; they might be due to avoidance or being shut down. Whatever the case, examining what is usurping motivation with a therapist is a top priority. When one feels stuck, regaining motivation is a process. With a good therapist, motivation can be rekindled through hard work and desire for something different.
Young adults who fail to launch face difficulties with self-regulation. They simply can’t manage normal day-today stressors. On top of this, they often have low frustration tolerance, and poor problem-solving skills. In order to move forward developmentally and psychologically, their nervous system needs to learn how to regulate. Neurofeedback is a powerful tool that teaches the brain to produce a healthy combination of brain waves. This leads to better self-regulation. Once the brain learns to self-regulate, one can deal with stress better, which improves focus as well as moods. Being better able to access the rational brain aids in the therapeutic process, increasing chances for success.
One of the ways we support failure to launch young adults is with short-term, intensive therapy. At our Ridgefield, CT center we have found that the high level of repetition combined with family counseling is an effective treatment modality for young adults struggling with independence. Meta-analysis research demonstrates that intensive, short-term psychotherapy is effective for a variety of conditions, including ADHD, OCD, PTSD, Autism, anxiety, social anxiety, and depression. When clinical issues are addressed with intensity, the brain allows for a greater level of behavioral learning. This in turn fosters positive change.
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 provides 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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