The Rise of “Failure to Launch” in Young Adults

Andy Santanello · April 17, 2019

failure to launch
Young adults today are dealing with mountains of student debt, sky-high stress levels and plenty of social media-induced fear of missing out (FOMO). A combination of factors has led to the current rise of failure to launch in young adults. One report found that 36% of young adults ages 18-31 were living with their parents despite having employment. Failure to launch has become a catch-all term to describe the trouble that many adults starting out are having managing responsibilities and becoming self-sufficient.

What Is Failure to Launch?

While the majority of young adults are still successfully transitioning out of secondary education and into “the real world,” 36% of young adults returning back home is a significant chunk. Many members in that demographic have experienced multiple difficulties and failures in education, employment and relationships. In some cases, they seem to lack the life skills and willpower to manage the challenges of adulthood. Things aren’t necessarily cut and dry, though. Mental illness affects 25.8% of young adults between 18-25 and 22.2% of adults between 26-49. Substance abuse can also be an issue for young adults struggling to transition. These can both compound other issues.

What are some of the signs of failure to launch?

  • Low tolerance for distress
  • Poor work ethic
  • Failure to take responsibility
  • Low levels of persistence
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of skills needed for adulthood
  • Narcissism

The Negative Consequences of Failure to Launch

Failure to launch affects both the parents of these adults and the young adults themselves. From lost dreams to increased strife in the family, the consequences of failure to launch can be severe and devastating. Beyond emotional and relationship effects, there are also often serious financial costs.

So What Now?

There is no one solution to the rise of failure to thrive in young adults. Because there are often co-existing conditions and situations, a multi-faceted approach is necessary. Seeking therapy is a great way to address mental health challenges, work through relationship challenges and gain the confidence needed to move out.

Parents in this situation can benefit from setting and holding boundaries. People living at home should contribute to the home in ways like paying rent, having a job, caring for siblings, cooking or getting an education. Do not stop your child from experiencing the hard parts of life and sidestep responsibility. Parents can also benefit from therapy to gain the skills needed to be firm with children.

Are You Struggling with Failure to Launch?

If you or your young adult child are coping with failure to launch or are interested in seeking therapy in Baltimore, we’re here to help.  Reach out to the CBT experts at CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to speak with you.