Failure to Launch Intervention and Treatment Programs in New Jersey

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Most parents would agree that some of their most important goals for raising children include instilling values, work ethic, and giving them the skills they need to live in the real world. As children enter early adulthood, parents hope that they begin to set their own goals and learn how to manage the challenges life gives them. But what if they don’t seem able to do those things? More and more often, young adults are remaining at home for long periods of time–or indefinitely.[1] Instead of working to be independent and create their own path in life, they appear content to live at home and avoid the responsibilities–and opportunities–of adulthood.

This is sometimes called “failure to launch”. This term describes someone’s difficulty with the transition into adulthood. There are many causes of these young adults’ feelings, and parents may struggle to know how to empower their children without pushing them away.

Many young adults–and their families–benefit from professional intervention to address the cause of their failure to launch. In some cases, simple therapy can be effective in setting boundaries and helping create new goals and habits. In other cases, a person might need failure to launch treatment, which is often more comprehensive than individual therapy alone.

Understanding how to identify failure to launch, its causes, and how it is treated can help you identify if your family needs help to overcome it.

Symptoms of Failure to Launch

Failure to launch can be hard to identify. There are many reasons a young adult might live at home for a brief amount of time. Many people return home to live with their parents after college while saving for an apartment and trying to find employment. This is not a sign of failure to launch because it is short-lived and part of a larger goal.

Instead, the term describes someone who is seemingly unmotivated to enter adulthood and does not appear able to perform the basic requirements of daily life. Some symptoms of failure to launch include:

  • Poor work ethic
  • Low motivation
  • No sense of personal responsibility
  • Narcissism
  • Poor stress tolerance
  • No adult skills, such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting, paying bills, etc
  • Low persistence–gives up quickly on activities
  • No ability or desire to set and work towards goals

A young adult with failure to launch may appear entitled to their parents’ ongoing care, unwilling to complete daily chores, and does not seem to know what they want to do with their life.

What Causes Failure to Launch?

Identifying exactly what is causing someone’s inability to embrace adulthood can be difficult. Many different factors could contribute to someone’s hesitancy or indifference towards adulthood. These include:

  • Overparenting: parents do not allow their children to experience stress, challenges, or discomfort. While they may have good intentions, the result is that their children do not develop the coping skills or self-confidence to deal with even basic challenges. They may rely on their parents to provide care out of fear that they won’t know what to do. When a child’s stress tolerance is low, small setbacks result in big frustrations, which leads many people to avoid anything that may be remotely stressful.[2]
  • Mental health issues: Adult children with mental illness may require substantially more assistance and support to allow them to be confident and lead independent lives.
  • Physical health conditions: Adult children with medical conditions may experience additional fear or anxiety about living independently.
  • Substance abuse: Some young adults with substance use disorder remain at home because it allows them to fund their addiction and allows them to have stable housing without having to work.

It is important to explore the root causes of your child’s failure to launch and seek professional treatment to help them overcome it.

What Happens in Failure to Launch Therapy?

In some cases, counseling is done individually, and in others, the whole family is involved. The main goal of therapy is to identify the causes of a young adult’s ambivalence about adulthood and to increase their motivation to live independently. Some of the other goals of failure to launch counseling include:

  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Creating good boundaries between family members
  • Identifying enabling behaviors and decreasing this activity
  • Setting goals
  • Identifying and learning new coping skills
  • Encouraging all family members to adopt good self-care practices–good sleep hygiene, nutrition, and exercise habits
  • Identifying and treating underlying mental health conditions

When all members of the family go through treatment, it allows people to correct unhealthy behaviors that contributed to the young adult’s failure to launch and allows them to move forward with a plan that encourages their independence.

Find Help With New Jersey Addiction Interventions

If you are concerned about your adult child’s failure to launch, you are not alone. The therapists at New Jersey Addiction Interventions offer individualized life skills therapy that can help your adult child gain independence in adulthood.

If you are ready to get started towards a better life for your whole family, do not wait another day. Call now to speak with an admissions counselor.



Medically Reviewed: July 16, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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