How to Deal with Failure to Launch in Young Adults

Home Failure To Launch How to Deal with Failure to Launch in Young Adults

Recent research suggests that teens no longer go straight into adulthood when they graduate from high school, but rather enter a transitional period known as emerging adulthood, where they are given the responsibilities of adults without having developed the skills to thrive independently. It is becoming more common for young adults to delay milestones, changing their plans several times before settling into adult roles that they used to assume at younger ages. This can feel overwhelming without clear goals and guidance and can lead to “failure to launch” syndrome.

What is Failure to Launch?

There are many reasons why young adults may struggle in transitioning to adulthood. These issues can be related to depression, anxiety, and other conditions. The following tasks may be too overwhelming or seem out-of-reach for your young adult:

  • Obtaining higher education or specialized training
  • Finding a job
  • Developing a sense of identity
  • Learning to self-regulate
  • Forming intimate relationships with others outside the family
  • Moving out of the family home

This problem quickly grows to affect more than just your young adult, it can take a toll on you and your entire family. Therefore, it is important that you do your part in addressing the issue.

Tips for How to Deal With Failure to Launch


  • Sit down and talk about it. Naming “failure to launch” is one of the first steps to helping your young adult learn how to deal with failure to launch and break the cycle of feeling discouraged and unmotivated. It is important to get on the same page and express your concerns. Chances are, they may share similar concerns.
  • Ask them how they’re feeling. Instead of judging them for not knowing what to do with their lives, ask about their goals and what you can do to help them achieved them. Remember that you may have different expectations for them than what they want and that it doesn’t mean their plan is wrong or unrealistic. Often, young adults are scared to get out of their comfort zone and become more independent, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to. 
  • Set boundaries about the level of support you can offer. Many parents fear that if they don’t take care of their child’s problems themselves, then their child will be set up for failure. In reality, this often reinforces the belief that they can’t learn to support themselves. It is difficult to take a step back, but learning to say no can encourage your child to figure out what they need to do for themselves. Giving your child a place to live for free is one thing, but funding social activities is very different. If they want extra spending money, they need to put in some effort.
  • Offer guidance, not advice, as they consider their academic and career goals. Many young adults are used to relying on their parents to make decisions for them and know that they can turn to their parents to help them problem solve. However, this enables them to avoid making their own choices and exploring their personal interests. Many young adults that struggle with failure to launch syndrome had a tough time in school and feel discouraged by future options. Despite failure to launch, they may be perfectionists who are hesitant to go for opportunities if they are unsure if they will succeed. Rather than focusing on long term plans, start small. Encourage them to try working or going to school part-time. Starting to take steps towards adulthood, even just small ones, can help tremendously.



Foundations Asheville Can Help

Foundations Asheville is a program for young adults ages 18-24 who are struggling to find the motivation to launch into adulthood. Many of our students struggle with anxiety, depression, social skills, and learning difficulties. This program is committed to helping young adults develop and sharpen the skills they need to be successful in the real world. There is a focus on teaching students how to enter the workforce, develop vocational trades, and functional living skills. Foundations Asheville gives young adults the opportunity to gain confidence, find their purpose, and learn useful skills that will help them navigate through the adult years.

For more information on how to motivate your struggling young adult, call 18773187273. We can help your family today!


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