Failure To Launch

Parents are naturally wired to care for their young kids. But what happens when those kids grow up and struggle with the next phase of life? Are you worried that your adult child won’t ever truly achieve independence?

If so, take heart that with the right support and coaching, parents and children can uncover the real roots of issues and build a positive, supporting environment for the transition to adulthood.

Over the past four decades, I have had the opportunity to help many families in your same position take that step.

Change starts with a simple conversation.

“Dr. Stanger was instrumental in helping members of our family transition through an extremely difficult time in our lives. We moved from an extremely fractious situation to one of health and vibrancy. She is a remarkable professional with great skills and personal insight.”

~ Ilene, former client

What Is Failure to Launch?

The term “failure to launch” refers to the difficulties some young adults face when transitioning into their next phase of growth development. At this critical stage (ages 18-28), independence and responsibility for young adults surmounts, and for some it can be a struggle. 

The number of young people who aren’t assuming self-sufficiency in adulthood is growing, and all signs indicate it will continue to plague our society unless addressed. While this trend impacts our country as a whole, it can be especially frustrating for parents who now need their kids to launch into adult life.   

For families experiencing Failure to Launch, both the children and the parents may feel isolated and ashamed. The children are labeled as weak and the parents are called indulgent. The reality is more complex than just lazy kids and soft parenting. There are often untreated mental health issues playing a role.

Dr. Stanger is professional interventionist who works with families to uncover the patterns that got them there and provides guidance and tools for how to encourage independence and autonomy. She helps families turn helplessness and hopelessness into persistence and resiliency.

Mental health issues often complicate the path to adulthood, and many young people are still undiagnosed or untreated for these root causes.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Etc

What families say about working with Dr. Stanger:

“Thank you, Louise!  You have helped me to become a better, more mature mother.”


“I am truly impressed with Louise and her style and would ask her to help us again in a heartbeat.”

Paige R

“We cannot thank her enough for what she has done for our family.”

L Shields

7 Tips for Parents

Be able to prioritize your self care

One of the biggest challenges as a parent is ironically what makes us better as a parent – practicing self care. When our kids struggle, we let our own self-care routines fall away. This only compounds problems as parents feel burnout, stressed, and ineffective.

Be open

We place additional and unnecessary pressure on ourselves to do things perfectly, even parenting. Inevitably, we will not handle something as well as we would like. Research suggests that parents who apologize for their mishaps and offer transparency about their own limitations help kids develop more resilience to anxiety and depression.

Be calm

Anxious parents do crazy things! Because anxiety is such a difficult emotion to manage, most of us will do anything to avoid that feeling. Watching our children fail or suffer can intensify unmanaged anxiety so it’s essential to find support, practice self-care, and discuss how to manage situations with less emotion and more planning.

Be discerning

Kids will tune out parents who “cry wolf” too frequently, causing parents to feel ineffective and unheard. Not every situation is a crisis, and parents should avoid elevating things unless warranted. Similarly, it’s important to avoid making decisions when emotions are high. Allow a cool-down period before deciding consequences and next steps.

Be powerful

Parent must establish boundaries! Effective rules, expectations, rewards and consequences promote developmental capabilities for kids and adolescents. For example, there’s no better way assigning your children chores around the house reinforces rules and expectations, and demonstrates for your child how to be a team player in a community. Consequences and punishments should also be equally enforced for every child. This reminds them that actions have consequences. 

Be hopeful, forgiving, and grateful

Teach your kids that mistakes will happen, and that when something does go wrong we can apologize for it. When they learn to apologize in actions and words, demonstrate forgiveness and gratitude for their willingness to make things right.  

Be the original role model

Kids are always watching us! They will see us at our best and worst and then emulate our own behaviors. When we demonstrate compassion and empathy, they incorporate it as well. We have a powerful ability to influence our children’s growth, learning and development and we should never underestimate that.

Articles About Failure To Launch

Meet the Parents — Helicopters, Submarines, and You

Meet the Parents — Helicopters, Submarines, and You

I was pleased to contribute an article to this month’s issue of The Sober World magazine. See an excerpt below. In the 1969 best-selling book titled "Between Parent and Teenager", Dr. Hiam Ginott coined the term helicopter parent when he was describing a teen...

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From 17 to 77: Failure to Launch

From 17 to 77: Failure to Launch

For my long time email subscribers, you probably know that my speaking engagements and trainings for staff and families is original content, backed by current research. Today, I want to talk to you about  a subject I recently addressed at the Innovations in Recovery...

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Additional Resources

A Nation of Wimps
Hara Marano

Adulting: How to Become an Adult in 468 Easy(ish) Steps
Kelly Williams Brown

Failure to Launch Presentation
Louise Stanger PhD

Getting to 30
Jeffrey Arnett PhD & Elizabeth Fishel

The Opposite of Loneliness
Marina Keegan

Generation on Hold
James Cote

Arrested Adulthood
James Cote