Failure to Launch: What to do if your son, boyfriend or husband hasn’t grown up!

Failure to Launch: What to do if your son, boyfriend or husband hasn’t grown up!

Failure to Launch!

Who remembers that Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McCoughney movie from 2006? Rotten Tomatoes has it at 24% fresh, so many of you have skipped over this one. Basically, SJP plays a consultant that helps families of grown men move out of the dreaded “Failure to Launch” syndrome, from living out of their parent’s basements into full-fledged adult males who hold a steady job and a steady girlfriend.

These types of men do exist and it leaves the male struggling to find independence while the family wants their son, boyfriend or husband to grow up but find it difficult to release them to their own volition. So the question becomes, what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does the family members let go or does the “FTL” male step up on his own?

In my practice, Caring Therapists of Broward, I’ve seen many clients that fit this bill. The mothers or girlfriends often find me and set-up the therapy appointment. Here are the top recommendations I provide to help get some movement by these men.

  • Discuss the situations in life that have kept them stuck
    • Part of the process of therapy would be to discover the patterns in their lives that have kept them from achieving more in their lives. Taking an inventory of possible trauma in their lives would also be paramount. Trauma affects people in all types of ways and could potentially impact a person’s ability to live up to their potential. Once those patterns are discovered, another process would be to change the behaviors that led to “FTL”.
  • Identify goals in the short-term and long-term
    • Often times, it takes some accountability by an outsider to help “FTL” males get back on track. Their family members may have tried to hold them accountable; however their behavior may be enabling more than it does to help. Setting short-term goals is important in order to establish a sense of immediate fulfillment. Identifying long-term goals is the key to making changes in a person’s life. It is the road map to where a person wants to go and putting them into place and holding that person accountable is always a part of therapy.
  • Create boundaries with family members
    • When a person has failed to launch their lives, there are often people around them cleaning up their mess. Setting boundaries with those people is going to be a skill taught in therapy. The family must learn to set boundaries with the male; however he must learn to start saying no and saying what he wants in order for movement to occur.

If you suspect the male in your life has failed to launch, you can always make that counseling appointment for them. However, you have other options. Ask them what kind of help they want. Ask them how you can best help them. Put the ball into their court and have them make the therapy appointment. Be available to help but not put in more effort than they are willing to do. If all else continues to fail, watch “Failure to Launch” and get a good laugh. For an appointment with one of our therapists, call 954-378-5381.


Amanda-Patterson-1Amanda Landry, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-378-5381 or email her at

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