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If your adult child still lives at home with you, their failure to launch can easily become a source of tension in the household. And when that failure to launch is accompanied by a substance use disorder or behavioral addiction, it’s often hard to tell which is the cause and which is the effect.

If your child is one of the 36 percent of millennials still living at home, these three small steps can help them cure failure to launch as you encourage them to embrace their independence.1

Set a Goal Together

Chances are, your young adult wants to get out and thrive on their own but feels inadequate or even incapable. Or perhaps they’ve tried once before, and the reality of life outside of school and home was more difficult than they were prepared to accept.2 To cure failure to launch, this discrepancy must be addressed as you set reasonable, actionable goals together.

One option is to arm yourself with a one-year calendar. Work together to choose a specific date toward the end of that calendar by which your child should be moved out and living independently. Then choose a date a few months sooner by which they should have a steady job, if they don’t already. A concrete goal gives you a better chance to cure failure to launch than simply saying, “When are you going to move out?”

Directly Address the Issues Keeping Your Child at Home

There is a reason your grown child is still at home. Fear of failure is common among the generation who grew up during the worst economic depression since WWII, and high expectations from their parents—who grew up through a period of relative economic stability—compounds the problem.3 Have an honest discussion with your young adult about what is holding them back, and do your best to simply listen to what they have to say.

Create some short-term goals on your calendar that address some of the behaviors and factors that are demotivating your child. If spending too much time on social media is a problem, for example, give them three months to curb their Facebook habits before you move the computer out of their room. If daily pizza delivery is a pain point, give them three weeks to cut their pizza back to once weekly before you stop paying for it.

Get Professional Help

When an addiction is at the root of your child’s reluctance to leave home, curing failure to launch may require the help of a medical professional. Openly discuss the addiction with your adult child, and put some goals on the calendar for that as well. Specifically circle a date in red for a few months or even weeks, depending on the severity of the addiction, by which they should check into rehab if they haven’t stopped using by then.

Cure Failure to Launch a Little Bit at a Time

It took years for your adult child to get to where they are today. Setting small goals in reasonable increments is the only way to cure failure to launch; it won’t happen overnight. But when you work together, stay supportive yet firm and get help from a professional when you need it, the two of you can cure failure to launch.


  1. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/04/20/third-american-millennials-live-with-their-parents-us-census-report-finds.html
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nation-wimps/201612/the-failure-launch-epidemic
  3. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/10/chris-christie/christie-us-worst-recovery-wwii/
3 Small Steps to Cure Failure to Launch
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