Parents or grandparents are usually the ones to approach me for Failure to Launch coaching for young adults who are stuck and don’t appear to be moving to self-sufficiency. My heart goes out to them. By the time they come to me there is often a level of exasperation and emotion which is palpable. In most cases the young person has zero interest in being pushed into meeting regularly with a coach. It may be viewed as somewhat more acceptable than having to see a therapist, but often the young person is so entrenched in the current situation that anything that might disturb the equilibrium is seen as a threat.


There is certainly a part of the young person that wants to get away from parents, start a life of desired pursuits and begin to thrive. And some young people seek coaching of their own volition for this very reason. But often there is a more dominant part of the young person that is held back and fears branching out. One thing I can tell you is this: every young person I’ve encountered in this situation has deep aspirations, interests, even passions, about what they’d like to pursue in life, but these hopes are pushed way down. Routines of excessive internet use, poor nutrition, inconsistent sleep habits, unhealthy substances and lack of healthy interpersonal connections can all conspire to lock the young person into a rut.

Parents First

In most cases it’s better to start working with the parents or grandparents first. Most parents have some awareness that they are enabling the dependency to continue for too long, but don’t know how to break out of it. The young person is usually unwilling to be “sent” for help and has become proficient at resisting the parents’ urges to make changes. This is all the more reason to work with the parents first. If the young person is to eventually engage in Failure to Launch coaching, clear boundaries regarding confidentiality and privacy have to be established first so that it can be seen as a safe option. Working with the parents, we develop a strategy for motivating the young person to begin work as the parents will discontinue theirs.

Importance of Career Choices

Since a large part of my expertise lies in career work, this is often a fertile area for the young person to start with in our coaching work. Identifying a direction for work that has some meaning and can earn enough to be self-sufficient is a good place to start. This need not be the ultimate, forever career direction, but it is an important step to move toward self-sufficiency. And the young person usually desperately wants this independence but has been stuck in neutral. Then, with proper tools such as an optimized resume and LinkedIn profile, the young person can learn how to conduct a serious job search. Most young people believe that they are experts in how to do this because as digital natives they are expert at navigating around the Net. In actuality, they are usually woefully underprepared to do a productive job search and need extensive coaching to enhance their chances. Practice with interviewing skills can also be quite helpful for the young person, especially if their interpersonal skills and comfort level in professional interactions are not highly practiced.

Strategy and Execution to Launch

Every family’s situation is different and sometimes it is not the job at all which is the primary factor interfering with Failure to Launch. If there are other reasons, we explore those and, as trust is established and motivation is allowed to grow, a strategy and plan can be drawn up. As with most kinds of coaching, accountability for following an agreed plan is a tremendous tool for making progress. The path is not always smooth. There can be setbacks and need for recalibration. But a commitment to attain agreed goals by parents and the young person can in the end be most rewarding.

More to come on this in a future post.


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