What is Failure to Launch Syndrome?

Failure to Launch Syndrome

Failure to launch syndrome describes a lack of life skills young adults need while transitioning into independent living and adulthood.  Generally, it is from a lack of desire or preparation to become independent and self-reliant.  For many young adults, particularly young men, the task of self-determination is overwhelming and debilitating.  As a result their behavior may go backwards towards adolescence or the escapism provided by electronics or substance abuse.

Parents struggle when a child suffers from a failure to launch because of their own sense of guilt or responsibility.  Often parents question if there was one thing they could do differently that would change their child’s behavior.  In some instances, parents have enabled their children, in some cases they have not.  Consequently, trying to assign blame or take responsibility is counterproductive because it does nothing for the problem.  With this in mind, parents must start the process of transitioning their child into independent living and adulthood.  The important step is to stop supporting the behavior especially financially.

The current times we live in contributes to the failure to launch syndrome problem that we are seeing.  Today’s young adults grew up with the internet and it has given all of us instant gratification. This contributes to the sense of entitlement and narcissistic tendencies we see today.  When end results are not immediately accessible young adults give up which perpetuates the problem.  The internet has provided escapism and a world that young adults can hide in.  Taking back control is something they need to do for themselves.  Often, the best way to start this process is to just disconnect them from familiarity.

Signs & Symptoms of Failure to Launch Syndrome

On the surface of it all, it is really hard for parents to make the determination if their son or daughter just needs a little extra help or if it is failure to launch syndrome.  Here are some of the symptoms:

• Narcissistic tendencies and behavior
• No long term goals or plans for their future
• A lack of basic living skills such as: cooking, cleaning, or personal hygiene
• No motivation
• A sense of entitlement, that everything should be given to them
• Expectations of the way they should be treated with no regard for how they treat others
• An inability to hold a job or poor work ethic
• Collapses in the face of the slightest challenge to their ideas
• A complete denial of any responsibility

Fields marked with an * are required