Failure to Launch is not new.  Much more attention is being focused on this because there are so many more young adults who are not launching.  If your children are grown and are living their own lives independently of you and your financial support then this blog is not for you.  If you do have children in this category then read on.

Let’s go back to when your child was young. Did you keep your child from failing by pressuring teachers to make exceptions for your child who did not perform well or refused to accomplish the homework given to them? Did you make exceptions and ask your child’s teacher for extra time to complete missing assignments? Did you ask the teacher to let your child take a test again because of a poor grade?  Did you make your child accountable for family chores? Did you insist that your child finish out a sports season because they were a part of a team?

All of these questions are all to help you to understand that because your child did not experience failure or disappointment, their fear of failure becomes immense.  Competition and responsibilities are all part of succeeding in the adult world. So, if you are experiencing children who will not grow up, move out and become independent of your support then it is time for you to give tough love. If you have children that are small then pay attention.

When adult children have no motivation to leave home then to expect them to have that motivation all on their own is not realistic. Look at this example:

Jane is 55. She has a 27 year old son. He lives in an apartment with a roommate. He is given an allowance every week, does not work, does not pay rent or utilities and spends his time playing games and hanging out with his friends. Jane does not understand why her adult child has no motivation to do anything with his life. When her son is asked what his dream life looks like, he responds with this statement. “I want to have enough money to play golf, hang out with my friends, play games and to never have to work.” (Yep..he said that). Not only did he say that but he said that in front of Jane. Hmmm. So the deduction is that he is already living his dream life.

Why would Jane’s son ever have any motivation to change anything if he already has his dream life and does not have to do anything to achieve it?  He wouldn’t.  The solution. Pull the plug. Easier said than done according to Jane. Her fear of her son going hungry, committing suicide or becoming homeless has crippled her and her son. 

We all as parents experience this fear even if it is just a little when our adult children grow up and negotiate living in the world without us. This is a right of passage for all children and all parents and must be accomplished. The last thing that a parent should want is for their adult child to experience this when we die. Let’s play that out.

Mary lost her parents at 26. They left her with about $200,000.00 after all of the expenses of burial.  Mary doesn’t have any idea how to manage money. She is unaware of how to budget and has never had a job. She spends money for everything that she wants. She forgets to pay her bills. Soon the utilities are shut off. She scrambles to get them turned on by calling her aunt to figure that out. Mary goes along and forgets to pay the taxes on the house that is already paid off. To her surprise, Mary has spent all of the money and cannot pay the taxes. There goes the house. Now she is living in the car. She cannot make a payment on the car because she spent all of the money. The car is repossessed. Now, Mary is homeless and has no idea how she got there.

No parent wants this for their child. So how do you help your child when you pull the plug?  As a parent, you can invite your child to dinner once in a while.  You can teach your adult child about financial responsibilities. You can take them out to dinner occasionally for a special treat. You can even sneak over a bag of rice or a case of ramen noodles just in case. You had to learn how to make it on your own and so does your adult child. Lastly, you can love the heck out of them and be there when they need a loving ear to listen.

If you have small children…remember these things. Your children need discipline. Your children need to win and lose.  Your children need to experience the responsibility of taking care of themselves. Your children are responsible for doing their own homework by high school age and they are responsible for the consequences of failing to do so. If you take care of everything for your child and make them completely dependent on you for every need then they will never have a reason to leave.

Many Blessings!

Kari Petruch

Master Relationship Coach

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