Failure to Launch, It is More Common than You Think

Clients frequently contact me because they have an over-18-year-old “child” who they classify as a “failure to launch.”  What does that really mean and is there anything that a parent can do about the situation?

Failure to launch means that your now age-of-majority “child” is unable to fly the nest and take care of himself or herself.  Perhaps he or she has not finished high school, or may have already started college and been overwhelmed.  Perhaps he or she has been unable to handle the academic or social pressures of being away from home.  Your extremely bright child has all of a sudden realized that the real world is not as forgiving as mom and dad, and being accountable all of a sudden really means something. Going to class, doing assignments as well as giving in completed work are all practice runs for when a student enters the work world.  If he or she does what is expected, then entering the professional world may go more smoothly; if he or she does not, then most likely the transition into the adult world of expectations becomes much trickier.

This is where the failure to launch programs lend a helping hand.  There are many types of  programs which deal with failure to launch issues.  Some of these programs will concentrate on learning challenges that may or may not have been previously identified.  Some programs will put more of an emphasis on students who may have more of a clinical presentation, struggling with anxiety or depression. Some conditions may have been treated previously, but with the additional stress of college may begin to take on more of a daily presence in a student’s life. And there are programs where the concentration may be on a population where substance abuse or gaming  may have tripped up a student. In each type of program, the treatment plan is tailor made to the presenting issues.   These programs also help your child  to learn the necessary life skills which will enable a  healthy return to  previous life, armed with additional tools to help navigate the world more successfully.

The important thing for parents to keep in mind is that  having a failure to launch child does not mean that there is nothing that can be done.  There are many good options available that offer hope not only to your child, but with hard work on everyone’s part, to the entire family unit as well.

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Welcome to the Alternatives for Teens Blog

Welcome to the Alternatives for Teens Blog. Look for our first posts soon.

Does My Child Need a Therapeutic Boarding School

This is the single most asked question that my clients first ask?  “My child is doing ok in school, so they must not need a placement? I don’t want my kid with bad kids.”

First of all, I don’t place “bad kids,” just kids that are struggling to navigate the traditional world appropriately. My usual client is a bright student, who finds their world contracting, rather than expanding.  They may be suffering from anxiety/depression but bright enough to hide it from their parents by keeping their grades good enough.  That bright B student may actually be more at risk than the student who is tanking in school.  Your bright B student may be overcompensating by self medicating or inappropriate weekend behavior, but without that dreaded note home from the teacher, you may never suspect.

If something just doesn’t feel right to you, don’t be afraid to approach it with your child.  Remember, it is not about how comfortable you are; it is about being a parent to your child when they need it the most.

Til next time

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