facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog external search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
The Challenge of "Failure to Launch" Thumbnail

The Challenge of "Failure to Launch"

In the sophisticated chambers of financial planning and wealth management, a topic that has increasingly entered our purview is the sociocultural phenomenon referred to as "failure to launch" (FTL). As one of the preeminent voices in the wealth advisory sector, I've seen the rippling effects of this trend on family dynamics, financial projections, and long-term planning.

The Reversal of the Empty Nest

The joyous anticipation of the "empty nest" phase for many parents has been increasingly deferred. Instead of enjoying a household free from the clamor of growing children, a sizable fraction of parents now find their adult children returning home. While this trend was already in motion before the 2020s, the tumultuous landscape shaped by the pandemic, economic challenges, and societal pressures has intensified it.

The Complex Dynamics of Boomerang Children

The term "boomerang children" aptly describes those young adults who, after a brief taste of independence, find themselves back in their childhood bedrooms. The factors pushing them back home are multifaceted, ranging from financial constraints mental health struggles, to sheer lack of ambition. As a wealth advisor, I can't stress enough the importance of recognizing the potential implications this trend has on a family's financial health, particularly when considering long-term goals and retirement.

Navigating the Financial Terrain

While the emotional aspects of the FTL situation are undoubtedly taxing, the financial implications warrant methodical evaluation:

  1. Financial Review: As the first step, recalibrate your financial projections. Understand how supporting an adult child might shift your economic landscape, both in the short and long term.
  2. Setting Financial Boundaries: Engage in open conversations about financial responsibilities. If an adult child is moving back primarily due to financial constraints, establish clear expectations about their contribution.
  3. Instilling Accountability: Charging a modest rent or expecting contributions towards household expenses isn't punitive; it's a lesson in financial responsibility.

Reestablishing Household Norms

The return of an adult child isn't merely a financial consideration. It's crucial to realign household dynamics to ensure harmonious cohabitation:

  1. Set Ground Rules: While it's a different dynamic than parenting a teenager, boundaries still matter. Whether it's about chores, late nights, or visitors, it's paramount to set and enforce household rules.
  2. Maintain Your Rhythm: Your life shouldn't come to a standstill. Continue with your routines, social commitments, and travel plans.
  3. Mental Health Matters: The emotional undertones of the FTL situation can't be overlooked. Both parents and their returning children might grapple with feelings ranging from disappointment to anxiety. It's pivotal to ensure open communication and seek professional help if required.
  4. Timelines and Transition: Emphasize that the return is temporary. While flexibility is essential, it's equally crucial to foster a sense of progression.

Looking Ahead with Optimism

Despite the challenges posed by the FTL trend, it's vital to approach the situation with empathy, clear communication, and strategic planning. With the right balance of support and tough love and armed with the insights of seasoned financial planning, parents can navigate this phase. Soon enough, with a combination of fortitude and foresight, they might once again witness their driveway occupied by that U-Haul, symbolizing their adult child's renewed journey into independence.

Disclaimer: This article draws inspiration from a report by John J. Bowen Jr. It's intended to provide a wealth advisor's perspective on the "failure to launch" phenomenon and should not replace professional advice tailored to individual circumstances—all rights reserved by the original publisher. Unauthorized replication may be subject to penalties. The views expressed herein are based on research and personal expertise.

We Are Committed To Understanding Your Needs