There is almost nothing a parent wouldn’t do to help their child. There is a point, however, when helping and empowering young adults living at home can cross the border into enabling adult children. While it is typically associated with family members who have substance abuse problems, enabling behaviors are not limited to these parents.

Parents or guardians who are continuously bailing out- financially or otherwise- their young adults living at home, are not helping to empower their adult children. In fact, these parents are actually hindering their child’s transition to adulthood. While “failure to launch” is not an clinical diagnostic category, the phenomenon of young adults living at home and not progressing professionally or emotionally is becoming more common.

Enabling adult children can consist of any behavior which aids young adults living at home in continuing to remain stagnant in their lives. For example, allowing one’s child who is not making progress (i.e. not enrolled in school, working, or actively seeking employment or higher education) to sit at home and play video games all day is a form of enabling adult children.

Failure to Launch: Enabling Young Adults Living at Home

Wanting to help your adult child financially or emotionally is normal; however, it is important to make sure that the steps you are taking to provide assistance are going to help in the long run. For example, offering to help your child financially or emotionally while he or she is enrolled in school or an internship can actually be empowering to him or her. If you are unsure of whether you are helping or enabling your adult child, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel manipulated?
  • Was this my idea or his/hers?
  • Am I offering help because I think it will benefit my child in the long run? Or is this something I am being guilted into?
  • Is this helping my child make progress for the future?
  • Is this something my child feels entitled to?
  • Am I sacrificing too much to provide for my child or to meet his/her needs?
  • Am I feeling overburdened or used?

Enabling adult children can be a major hurdle in achieving independence. If you have considered the questions above, and recognize that you have been enabling your adult son or daughter, you are not alone; however, in order to ensure that your child gets back on track to adulthood and through their “failure to launch,” it is important to stop your enabling behavior(s).

Helping Young Adults Living at Home Through a “Failure to Launch”

To find out more about helping young adults living at home achieve their independence, download our free, twelve page white paper, The Road to Independence Can Be Rough: It’s Okay to Ask for Help

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