Signs of Failure to Launch SyndromeCommon signs of failure to launch syndrome include the following:
- Dropping out of school or experiencing a significant decline in academic performance
- Returning to live at home after attempts to live independently were unsuccessful
- Being consistently unemployed, underemployed, or only minimally employed
- Contributing little financially or emotionally to family or others
- Being withdrawn or absent, and isolating oneself
- Spending a considerable amount of time partying
- Abusing substances, particularly marijuana, opioids, or alcohol
- Lacking motivation, direction, or purpose
- Lacking emotional range or expression
- Struggles to express wants, needs or fears
- Having little or no desire for greater independence or responsibilities
- Having feelings of nihilism or apathy
- Exhibiting social anxiety
- Being inactive or viewed as lazy by others
Who Fails to Launch?Failure to launch syndrome may be experienced by those individuals who never went to college or were not successful in their academic endeavors. They are either unemployed, or do not make enough money to live on their own, and therefore, must partially or fully depend on the support of their parents. This syndrome is all based on the idea that during the period of growth when a person is learning necessary life skills, emotional regulation, and decision-making, these individuals should, essentially, “launch” into adulthood. Unfortunately, however, many young adults face barriers and difficulties during this stage that somehow impede their launch into adulthood. Many parents of adult children who are addicted to drugs or alcohol find similar patterns in their children’s behaviors and attitudes that could accurately be described as a failure to launch. Often, the initial stages of this lack of development onset early in childhood and worsen during adolescence. Children that grow into young adults that have launched successfully have clearly developed the necessary skills, fortitude, and abilities needed to succeed. They value independence and are motivated to move forward in life and into adulthood. Adult children that have failed to launch have not, for whatever reason, completed the process of maturation and growth.
Signs of Enabling Failure to Launch SyndromeWhen an adult child is struggling in their life endeavors, it’s normal to want to intervene and help him or her. Sometimes, however, parents go a bit too far. When a parent is emotionally invested in a situation, especially if their child is suffering from addiction, the lines between helping versus enabling them often become blurred. There are some common signs of enabling:
- The parents take care of the adult child’s responsibilities—paying their bills, cooking all their meals, doing their laundry, etc.
- The parent consistently lends money to the adult child because they are unemployed or minimally employed.
- The child doesn’t show respect for the parent unless they want something and exhibit feelings of entitlement.
- The parent allows them to live at home without contributing to the household financially or by doing chores.
- Do not wait on them hand and foot regarding cooking, cleaning, etc.
- Do not try to solve their problems—try to let them figure it out on their own.
- Don’t allow them to live with you if they are not contributing to the household in some significant way—require them to be employed or continue their education.
- Do not pay their bills or expenses—they should able to pay for their own gas, food, clothing, etc.
- Remember that you have a right to say no in any given situation—be strong if he or she begs you to do things for them that they should be doing for themselves.