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Failure to Launch


I’ve been hearing a lot about these “failure to launch” kids: teens and young adults who are not stepping into the adult phase of life.  It hit me that the term implies there’s something wrong with the kid/young adult, like a car with a flat tire by the side of the road.  The problem is, the kid simply won’t move forward in his or her life.

It’s the kid’s fault, and presumably there’s something wrong with the kid.  The next step I can imagine in this phenomenon is a deep exploration into why this happens, and a deep dive into a cottage industry of people selling solutions for this new breed of kid. What’s next? Maybe someone inventing “Launchaway,” a new form of pharmaceutical medication?

I’m very suspect of this idea here!  While I can certainly imagine some people have trauma and deep issues that need to be addressed so they can step forward in their lives, I just doubt there is a new breed of people aged 17-15 who simply have a disorder.  Having raised a few kids myself, (who are now adults), I can attest to my own challenges in learning how to parent emerging adults.  I had to learn the difference between raising kids versus raising teenagers to become adults.  My job description turned into “preparing people to become problem solving, independent people who have the skills to create their own life.”  When I drove each of them to college, I told them “That house was where you grew up.  it’s not your home anymore.  You’re going to create a new life, the one you choose.  And you won’t be living here over the Summer.  Instead, you’re going to do one of three things: (1) earn money for college, (2) get more college credits out of the way, or (3) have an experience that an employer might one day find valuable.”  I had to learn this shit.  It wasn’t natural at all to me. Frankly, nurturing my kids was easier than providing them the structure and accountability they needed as teenagers.

I can’t honestly say that parents bear all of the responsibility in raising teens to become adults, but I have to admit that most of us probably bear most of it!

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Christy Thomas

Christy Thomas

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