The “failure to launch” syndrome is very real. In the American society, we have literally told our children at the age of 18 that they are “emancipated” and need to graduate high school and move out. But the reality is that only 56 percent of college students graduate according to a Harvard Graduate study. What about the other 44 percent? Time Magazine reported that after college, 85 percent of graduates move back home to live with their parents, due to the fact that unemployment for the under 25 crowd is as high as 54 percent.

The statistics show that adolescents who experience success before the age of 18 had left high school encouraged and wanting to move on to the next steps in their life. Although these teens may experience various challenges and some difficult times, they are usually resilient to pick themselves up and move forward.

What are the issues that young adults face that lead them to become unmotivated?

  • Fear– Many young adults are afraid to grow up and face the reality that they have to make it on their own. Between schoolwork, a job and student loans, their future can seem overwhelming since they haven’t experienced so many obstacles before. These young adults sometimes try to avoid reality by escaping through media, procrastination or substance abuse. This can perpetuate a vicious cycle that creates more physical, psychological and emotional issues.
  • Graduates Lifting MortarboardsPeer influence– Highly motivated students will usually gravitate towards other motivated students in order to inspire one another to become successful. While unmotivated students may surround themselves and influence each other in a more negative manner. If they are defiant or oppositional in their personalities, this can become an emotional issue between the parent and the child. Also, they may not feel like they fit in with the other motivated students.
  • Feeling Frustrated– Some students who have tried hard academically in school, and they are not as successful as compared to their peers; this can create an at-risk situation by becoming an unmotivated student. Even with the help of parents and teachers, they may feel insecure or inferior so they may give up and not reach their potential. More often than not, students who are interested in liberal arts may not feel as academically proficient and prefer to play their music, perform, write, etc.
  • Failing– If a student has previously failed a class, they may lose their confidence and self esteem. A pattern may be developed if the student never recovers. Often times the student may drop out from college and lose scholarship money or tuition money. Parents may be shocked and extremely upset about what took place with their son or daughter.
  • Entitlement– When a parent has done so many things for their child throughout their development, they may have a sense of entitlement. They may be immobilized without help from their parents to make a decision or to handle a situation. Often times helicopter parents will continue to write their papers for them, completely support them financially, and give them whatever they need whenever they want.

How do you motivate this unmotivated student/young adult?

  • Graduates in Cap and GownInsight– As a parent you have watched your child grow. You have an understanding of their personality and abilities. This is a time to look at their development, motivation, abilities, and characteristics. If you as a parent are unable to inspire or guide them, then finding a good career counselor would be recommended.
  • Encourage their talents/interests– When you have an adult child who is inspired or shows an interest in a particular subject, then help them find programs so that you can get them back on track and they can pursue their topic of interest or major.
  • Mentor– Find a mentor in a field of interest and help them talk to that person or shadow them. Take yourself as a parent out of the equation and allow others to guide them in a field that they may want to pursue.
  • Match their interest with their identity– If your student cannot fit the norm of a community college, university or program, then help them find a liberal arts school, or a different route they can pursue and one that they are passionate about.
  • Reward system– Not only through inspirational, motivational talks, but giving your adult child a reward system such as earning a car, money, or something else they really want can help motivate them.

Teach your child through empowerment of knowledge and information by picking up a copy of Help I’m On My Own, a handbook designed specifically for college-age kids and reviewing it with them to help ease the transition.