Failure to Launch

When are They Really Adults?
In most states, becoming an adult happens legally at age 18. But actually maturing into adulthood is something that continues to about age 26. Transitioning from a high school student into a mature, self-reliant adult can be problematic.

Failure to Launch?
Some youth graduate from high school and have definite plans to attend college, serve a mission, and pursue a specific field. Other youth find themselves out of high school and without great desires to do anything specific. They are tired of school, or maybe did not excel academically. Maybe they want to just take a break, bum around, and enjoy the newfound freedom of “adulthood,” but without the financial obligations of living on their own.

Learned Helplessness
Between the ages of 18 and 26, young adults are either learning to be self-sufficient or helpless. These are critical years in maturing into adulthood. If a child wants to continue living at home, then he needs to be acquiring skills that will make him independent and self-sufficient, or he needs to be paying a fare share of the family expenses, along with being a contributing member of the family. Think of an adult child at home, much the way you would think of a houseguest. You would expect her to be decent to live with. After a month or two, you would expect such a guest to pay her share of the expenses. I’m not talking about $200 per month! I am talking about taking the total family living cost, and dividing that by the number of persons in the family. That is a fair share. At a minimum, it should be the cost to live independently, in an apartment or shared house. You are doing your child a disservice to allow him to stay at home, enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Employment Problems?
An adult child at home will often be unemployed or under-employed. Parents should not provide the necessities of life, and allow the child to fritter away the money from his job. This is not reality. This helps the child to learn to be helpless. Regardless of what the child does, or does not do, the necessities (and many luxuries) of life keep coming to him. Whether he keeps or looses his job is unimportant. Whether she saves or wastes her money has minimal impact on her. These are bad lessons to learn! You need to make sure you are not teaching this to your child by removing virtually all significant consequences of your child’s behavior.

Don’t You Want to Go to College?
A common scenario is that the parent wants the child to go to college, but the child isn’t sure. The parent gets information on the local community college. The parent encourages the child to register. The parent reminds, nags, questions, pleads, and then reminds again about filling out college applications and choosing courses. Do you see the problem here? Who owns the problem of the child getting an education? In this case, it is the parent! This needs to be the child’s problem. So, what does the parent need to do? First, you need to understand that young adult’s actions are controlled by two things… First, and foremost, their actions (behaviors) are controlled by the consequences that follow those behaviors (or what the child thinks will happen). As the parent, it is your right and duty to help your child understand those consequences, and then stick to your word. For example, what things are earned by your child if she enrolls in college as a full time student. These things (or positive consequences) could be living at home (rent free), having use of a family car, medical insurance coverage, medical and dental bills paid, a clothing allowance, tuition, and books. When the child passes the classes with at least a C, then the child earns money for the next semester. Also, what will things look like if the child does not enroll in college (or something else to gain self-sufficiency skills)? How much will the child be expected to pay for housing expenses? How about medical costs? How about use of the family car and insurance? Now your child can make an informed decision, that will probably be more to your liking.

The Launch: The Transition from Dependent Child to Independent Adult
This is a 9-class online video course on parenting young adult children at The classes include:
– The Launch: The Transition from Dependent Child to Independent Adult (Introduction)
– Love, Laughter, and Limits for Young Adults
– Behavior Science for Young Adults
– Positive Parenting: Effective Parenting Skills for Young Adults, Part 1
– Parental Expectations: Effective Parenting Skills for Young Adults, Part 2
– Handling Problem Behavior: Effective Parenting Skills for Young Adults, Part 3
– Motivation for College
– Dealing with a Squatter
– Clearing Out the Roost
There are also several question and answer sessions . As of 9/10/12, the classes are free, but this is a limited time offer. This free offer will only last until the programming upgrades to the website are complete.

Need help?
A parenting coach (Tom Dozier specifically) can help you clarify the choices for your adult child. He can help you understand how to present these choices to your child. He can help you feel confident that what you are proposing is fair, so you can be positive and firm. Finally, he can help you eliminate the nagging, arguing, and criticizing that parents typically do in these situations, that only makes things worse. Call or email Tom. Your first call is free and welcomed.


Child behavior expert and parenting coach, Tom Dozier, can help you and your family if you live in any city in the Bay Area.  The first visit should be at his office in Livermore, but after that, meetings can be held by secure internet telecommunication (similar to Skype).  It is also possible to have the initial meeting with Tom via internet, so it is not mandatory that you travel to Livermore for the first meetings.  Cities near the Bay Area include Alameda, Antioch, Belmont, Benicia, Berkeley, Brentwood, Burlingame, Campbell, Concord, Cupertino, Daly City, Danville, Dublin, East Palo Alto, Fairfield, Foster City, Fremont, Gilroy, Hayward, Hercules, Lafayette, Lathrop, Livermore, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Manteca, Martinez, Menlo Park, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Napa, Newark, Novato, Oakland, Oakley, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Petaluma, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Redwood City, Richmond, Rohnert Park, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Mateo, San Pablo, San Rafael, San Ramon, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Saratoga, South San Francisco, Stockton, Suisun City, Sunnyvale, Tracy, Union City, Vacaville, Vallejo, Walnut Creek, and Windsor.