Connection Between an Enabling Parent and a Child’s Failure to Launch

According to the Pew Research Center, 15.8 percent of young adults ages 25 to 34 were living with their parents in 2000; a decade later, that figure jumped to 21.6 percent. Nonetheless, failure to launch syndrome still isn’t widely understood or accepted among society. Many still view the condition as an excuse for young adults to be lazy and sponge off their parents. For most, that isn’t their intention at all.

For the Love of a Child

When you see your child struggling, no matter their age, it is natural for you to want to step in and help, but sometimes parents take this too far. When you’re emotionally involved in a situation like this, it can be difficult to discern helping behaviors from enabling ones. There are healthy ways to help your child, such as:

  • Do not cook, clean, or do laundry for them on a regular basis.
  • When they’re struggling to find the solution to a problem, sit back and let them find it.
  • Do not let them live with you if they are not contributing to the household.
  • Require your unemployed child to seek work or further their education in order to stay in the family home.
  • Do not pay their way; adult children should be required to pay for their own gas, food, and clothing.

How You Aren’t Helping

The lack of a desire for responsibility and independence has more to do with what’s causing the syndrome than their personality. However, there are environmental components at work in the development of failure to launch syndrome, and sometimes a person’s upbringing and their parents’ behaviors are partly responsible for their inability to move forward with adult life. If Mom and Dad are always willing to step in and handle the tough stuff for their kids, their children won’t learn how to do anything for themselves. Psychology Today reported that delayed marriage might be a big factor in why so many young adults aren’t launching from this generation too.

Additionally, young adults who fail to seek gainful employment make up another large part of those with failure to launch syndrome. While not all of these unemployed 20- and 30-somethings living at home are lazy with no interest in working; many do want a job and have inflated expectations of what work should be like. Business Insider reported on a study showing that 51 percent of today’s young working adults having unrealistic salary expectations, according to their managers.

It is possible that these expectations were encouraged if their parents were the type to often reward their children for petty tasks and/or not require much from their kids in the way of work — two things that teach people how to earn the things they want. Instead, children brought up this way learn that the things they want in life should come easy or just be handed to them.


If you need help giving your adult son or daughter a nudge in the right direction, we can help. At Optimum Performance Institute, you will find we’re different from other inpatient treatment centers. We will gently encourage your adult child to pursue a future separate from the family home while assisting them in building the confidence and self-esteem they need to succeed on their own. Treatment programs from other facilities cannot compare. From mental health and substance abuse to deep-rooted psychosocial and emotional traumas, we can help your child address any underlying issues. Call today and speak to one of our caring representatives about how we can assist you in getting your adult child on the right track for their future.

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