It’s Not Their Fault: 6 Reasons Why Young Adults Can’t Launch

By Donna C. Moss, MA, LCSW-R

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be on the radio again with my new topic “It’s not Their Fault: Why Young Adults Can’t Launch.”

I think it’s because in the last decade, the loan situation re: college costs, even if you just take a certificate like massage school or nursing or EMS or accounting, has ratcheted up to the sky. Paying back a monthly loan when you’re 25 is hazardous to your health. So why wouldn’t you be stuck in your parent’s basement when all that’s left at the end of the month is debt? It’s not that you’re too lazy, it’s that you don’t have a dime. In my field of social work, the salaries are so low that most people can’t even rent a private office after what they get paid. This is the rub of the bad economy. Young people are stuck. Loan forgiveness is stuck. Our country is stuck. We are all stuck.

So instead of blaming our sons and daughters, let’s help them with practical tasks:

  • loan consolidation
  • balancing a checkbook
  • changing a tire
  • writing a cover letter
  • sending a thank you note
  • signing up on linkedin
  • spellchecking a resume
  • getting a car inspected
  • dressing for an interview

Here are 6 more reasons I think young adults are floundering:

1. Loans – up to the sky payments cripple any movement out.

2. Fear – just fear of everything. Fear of going out, fear of people, fear of men, relationships, fear of failure and success, fear of a world with few protections, fear of leaving parents and abandonment, fear of living alone, etc. Once you live in fear and anxiety and depression, substances creep into daily life from sheer boredom. It is not unusual to find a 20-something who is not only afraid but also addicted (weed, alcohol, cigarettes, vape, pills, internet, gaming, gambling and more).

3. Parents overwhelmed, impaired – if you grew up with a disabled or unemployed or alcoholic or divorced parent, a parent working double shifts, you missed out on vital help you might need to succeed. It’s hard to catch up in your 20’s. Sometimes it takes a whole decade to make up for these missing milestones.

4. Social Anxiety – instead of running out to get married like some did in previous generations, you avoid social situations, and avoidance reinforces avoidance. Avoidance is easy. And then you wake up when you’re 30 and say, “Whoa, I forgot to grow up.” Push past your comfort zone, even though it may hurt.

5. Lack of support – your parents don’t have the money to send you anywhere where you can develop skills and self confidence like camp, sports clubs, hobby classes, arts and music lessons. You then decide you don’t care about competing with your friends who do go out. So you sit around on your phone day after day until sitting around becomes a way of life.

6. Developmental trauma, abuse, bullyingThe books show that kids who have been sexually or physically or emotionally abused or bullied growing up lack the neuro-psychological strength to develop free of PTSD; that for each year that the abuse took place they have thereby lost a year of normal development. So say you’re getting abused from age 13-16, instead of learning how to make and manage friends, you’re too triggered to leave the house. Now you’re 25 and you wonder why you can’t make friends. This is tragic and not your fault!

Studies by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that:

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
  • Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.
  • According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well (page 5).

A Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows 1.6 % (sixteen out of one thousand) of children between the ages of 12-17 were victims of rape/sexual assault (page 18).

So before we go judging those young adults, many of them bright and intelligent and hard-working, let’s give them the tools they need. Help is available!

Author Biography:

Donna is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. She offers supportive, goal-oriented, cognitive/behavioral and proven methods for uncovering past traumas and moving toward healthy living. She has 20 years of experience in areas including adolescents, young adults, infertility, cancer, health, stress, divorce mediation, families and children of divorce, and more.

She is the author of the book Sext, Text and What’s Next?
Her website:
Her Twitter account is @donnatella
Her Facebook account is
More of her work can be found at

Donna C Moss

2017-11-30T20:44:31+00:00 November 19th, 2017|Education, Parenting, Psychology, Relationships, Social Issues, Technology|