Preventing a Failure to Launch

By brandon

Raising kids is a huge commitment.  As a parent, you spend 18+ years imparting them with wisdom, knowledge, and insight into what life outside the nest will be like. 

You help them think about their future while they are young by asking the age old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Then, graduation day comes, and they set out on their own journey, equipped with what they’ve learned from you and their own life experiences. 

They are capable, self-sufficient, and they are going to lead happy, successful, financially stable lives.  At least, that’s the dream.  Unfortunately, dreams and reality don’t always coincide.

According to the 2015 United States Census, nearly 25% of young adults are still living under their parent’s roof.

It’s true a portion of these teens have remained at home because they are physically incapable of caring for themselves or are pursuing higher education and trying to avoid additional debt, but some of the other reasons cited for staying at home are a little more concerning:

  • They are not making enough money to live independently.
  • They are afraid of failure.
  • They are not in a relationship.
  • They just don’t want to leave.    

While this group of young adults has experienced a “failure to launch,” there is another group of young people who have made the jump into relationships resulting in pregnancy but not marriage.

According to a 2019 CDC study, the birth rate among girls 15-19 was a little over 16 births for every 1,000 girls (About Teen Pregnancy | CDC). These numbers have decreased from previous years, but overall, out of wedlock births have skyrocketed. In 2020, 40.5% of all births were out of wedlock representing a demographic who more than likely will encounter issues with self-sufficiency.

So, what can you do?
How can you ensure your child’s launch is successful?

While there is no perfect formula, studies have identified three key life decisions that research shows greatly increase the likelihood of achieving financial independence.

These decisions are:

Get at least a high school level diploma.

Get a full-time job.

Get married before having children.

The highest-quality research on this success sequence to date probably comes from Wendy Wang and Brad Wilcox.  In their Millennial Success Sequence, they observe: “97% of Millennials who follow what has been called the “success sequence”—that is, who get at least a high school degree, work, and then marry before having any children, in that order—are not poor by the time they reach their prime young adult years (ages 28-34)”.  On the other hand, nearly half of millennials who had children prior to marriage live in the lower income group.

Although 97% may not be a “guarantee,” the percentage certainly carries some weight.  Why are these steps so pivotal for young people?  How can these three things have such a strong impact on someone’s financial future and career path? 

Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker, once said,
It is your decisions, and not your conditions, that determine your destiny.

A student who does not get a high school degree or equivalent has limited job options and single parenthood often limits job opportunities even more. Additionally, research shows that those who marry before having kids are more likely to stay together than couples who live together while pregnant or parenting. 

In fact, children raised by parents that live together without being married are twice as likely to end up in broken homes before they turn 12.

As parents, providing this information is a huge protective factor.  Let them know you want them to be part of that 97% who are financially independent and above the poverty line.  That information equips youth with the “Why” they need they need to make healthy choices, particularly when it comes to sexual activity and pregnancy.   For more ideas on initiating these important conversations, please visit the links below. 


Why Are So Many Young Adults Still Living At Home? (

A Third of Young Adults Live With Their Parents (

Success Sequence | Institute for Family Studies (

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