Speaking of boys and young men, is there any social epidemic which frustrates families more than a failure to launch? And with good reason. How frustrating to raise and educate a child who then lacks the interest and momentum to go forth and apply himself. Hollywood and popular culture like to poke fun at the problem, usually focusing on latent sexuality, as if losing ones virginity was the assurance needed that a boys life is on track. In real life, a failure to launch has deeper roots and wider importance, and its trademark inertia is broadly visible in the lives of many young men.
Common characteristics (and complaints among families) include the following:
- Ambiguous life purpose
- Lack of career focus
- Procrastinating on university applications
- Unrealistic vocational expectations
- Lack of energy
- Relative indifference to the benefits of money
- Low tolerance for stress
- Inclination toward social isolation
- Preference for leisure activities typically associated with younger males
How many boys experience failure to launch is hard to say. No one yet keeps statistics about social epidemics. Based on my email log, and the concerns raised at my talks, the problem is pervasive and escalating. It’s clear that societies across the world want to motivate boys to achieve up to their potential, yet we don’t appear to be getting the job done.