McGeehan first helped explain the term as well as its cultural shortcomings: “Failure to Launch” refers to “an adult (from 18 to late 20s and beyond) who is struggling to accomplish socially constructed ‘adult’ defining behaviors, such as moving out of [their] parents’ home, working full-time, and living independently.”
McGeehan then warned that, since multi-generational living is a norm for many cultures, the term “Failure to Launch” is Eurocentric, “making it limiting to other cultures and ways of life. It’s based on one set of norms or beliefs, so it’s therefore unfair to use it as a label that applies to all families and young adults.”
Today’s social and economic issues mean that mental health problems are also at an all-time high, a concern McGeehan argued often gets overlooked by parents dealing with a struggling child. “We support many young adults who are struggling during this stage of development and present with a complex set of diagnostic concerns such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, OCD and ADHD.”
McGeehan then noted the bigger-picture concerns and impacts of “Failure to Launch Syndrome” on young adults and their families:
“Over time, if someone is continually told they are a failure, or convince themselves, they start to believe it. Being ‘the failure’ becomes their identity. The shame and embarrassment the parents or family members feel also project and pile onto the child, exacerbating the situation. Ultimately it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that could have been prevented.”
In addition, younger siblings living in the home “can become parentified, feel like they need to be the hero child, or alternatively act out to get attention focused on them as the parents focus 100 percent on the other sibling.”
While “Failure to Launch” can feel overwhelming, especially if there are any mental health or addiction concerns, you are not alone and there is help available. Here at The Dorm, we help our young adults achieve personal independence through a holistic, collaborative approach that involves individual, group, and family therapy as well as wellness, vocational, academic, and community support. If you have any questions or feel that you or a loved one could benefit from our services, please reach out to us through our contact form.