I feel strongly that it is too easy – and not useful at all – for any third party to assign a young adult’s struggles to laziness, immaturity, or other negative characterizations. I have found that these challenges can correlate strongly with young people having high degrees of intelligence, thoughtfulness, humility, sensitivity, and big picture thinking. That a person in this generation is struggling is not at all a condemnation of their character or capability.
I protest how the expression “failure to launch” is commonly used when we talk about these young people. When those words are used to describe a difficult personal situation, they position that a person is failing or has failed somehow. Sorry, you are – or your kid is – headed into that dreaded class of people who others will call failures.
Of course, characterizing another person’s journey in negative ways is neither accurate nor helpful. Many people arrive at life’s destinations on their own schedule based on a variety of obvious and non-obvious variables. I know several people who languished in “not-yet-launching” wanderings – and then eventually each of them marched with energy into successful employment and independent living. Maybe that’s a testament to the power of parental prayer, but I think it’s more likely that some people or situations just take a bit longer to germinate.
I personally avoid working with “failure to launch” language and I offer an alternative that I think is more constructive – “extended launch.” This person’s launch is just taking a bit longer. I think this generation is working through a lot of extended launch experiences.
Let’s stay anchored with confidence that struggling young adults are fundamentally equipped and want to be successful. They want their family and community to be proud of them. Of course, they don’t want to be wandering in a lonely and despondent state. They are simply stuck at this point because they don’t have the confidence or a sense of direction to be on their way.
Anyone who would like to connect with me or explore these topics more is invited to visit my website at www.otoolecoaching.com.