Men Who Fail to Launch into Adulthood

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TheCommuter TheCommuter (New Member) New Member

TheCommuter is a CRRN, now a case management RN.

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A skyrocketing number of young adults, mostly men, are trapped in perpetual stasis and have been failing to launch into adulthood. Does this trend have any long-term implications regarding social issues such as dating, marriage, and family formation? This article is a small window into my personal woes involving the dating game.

Here's a little demographic background on me. I am a female who was born in the early 1980s and am currently in my early thirties, so my birth year and age would place me at the end of Generation X or the very beginning of Generation Y.

The statistics for the available pool of men in my age range are really discouraging, to put it lightly. According to Associated Press, young men are almost twice as likely as young women to still be living with their parents, and less likely to finish college or have a job (SodaHead, 2011). And it does not stop there! Since 1970, the percentage of people ages 18 to 34 who live at home with their family increased 48%, from 12.5 million to 18.6 million, the Census Bureau says (Jayson, 2006).

Some would say that an entire generation of young men in the U.S. has been failing to launch into adulthood due to factors such as the current state of the economy, lack of living wage jobs, and college degree inflation. However, based on my personal experiences and anecdotal information, I've first noticed this trend of 'childish men' many years prior to the start of the Great Recession.

Tale number one involves a former flame that I will call 'Mickey.' At the time that we started dating, he was 25 years old, divorced, unemployed, unmotivated, lacking ambition, and living with family. I was 20 years old with a full-time non-nursing job at a factory that paid about $40,000 annually. I referred him to the manager of one of my former workplaces and he was quickly hired based on my reference. However, he quit the job within a few months and had no other employment prospects lined up. He attended classes at the local community college with tuition that was fully paid by the GI Bill, but dropped out shortly thereafter. I saw where this was going and decided to stop talking to Mickey altogether.

Tale number two involves a man that I will call 'Grant.' He was the perpetual teenaged boy who appeared trapped in a grown man's body. He was almost 29 years old and was perfectly happy with his protracted adolescence: had never lived anywhere other than his childhood bedroom, worked a part-time minimum wage job at a hobby shop, was not attending school to better himself, approached life as if he was a preteen, and generally had no ambition for anything better in life. After talking in detail to Grant, I was left under the impression that he would have been pleased to live this way until old age. I prodded him about issues surrounding independence and asked him if he would consider college, trade school, the military, and so on. I was an independent, upwardly-striving 23-year-old at the time, and ended up leaving him because he was not what I wanted in a partner.

In my opinion, too many of today's males in the 18 to 35 year-old age group are emotionally, developmentally, and physically living like younger teenagers or preteens. Young adults seemed to mentally mature faster in previous generations. However, many of the members of my generation (Generation Y) are taking longer to mature and stand up on their own feet. I am fiercely independent and cringe when I see how heavily dependent my peers are on their parents for food, shelter, money, and self esteem.

Perhaps my standards are too high for the pool of available men in my age range. Am I asking for too much by looking for a male who has ambition, values independence, and is emotionally mature? Maybe so. However, I will not back out of the uphill battle to find a good man who has actually launched into adulthood.

 

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Some more interesting thoughts from mental health professionals about failing to launch into adulthood. They pin the blame on smothering parents who stepped in to intervene too much during childhood and solved all of their children's problems for them. This over-protection has crippled the problem-solving skills of today's young adults.

Why So Many Adult Kids Still Live with Their Parents

Sadly, during childhood and adolescence, the primary coping skill many kids have learned is to simply go to their parents when there’s a problem. When they enter adulthood and mom or dad isn’t there to fix things, they don’t know what to do. They come back to the one coping skill they’ve learned: go to the parent to solve the problem for them. Many remain at home, sitting on parents’ couches or sleeping in, rather than moving out. Their parents step in and pay rent and utilities, buy their food or pay their insurance. This can go on into their twenties, thirties and even longer.

Over time, our kids have stopped learning to solve problems and entertain themselves because adults are quick to jump in and fix things for them. It’s done out of love and with the best of intentions, but over time we’ve gone from caring for our children, to caretaking. “Caretaking” is anything we do for our children that they can do for themselves. It means fixing or solving a problem for your child rather than teaching or showing him how to do so himself.

We want our loved ones, especially our children, to be happy and healthy. But over time an unhealthy caretaking cycle can develop: the child experiences stress/struggles; they go to the parent; the parent intervenes, fixing or resolving the situation; the child learns to look outside himself for coping skills, in the form of the parent. And so the cycle goes on into adulthood.

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This is very interesting. I put up a thread today about whether the Peanuts Gang and Charlie Brown are bad for kids. Seems the thought is hearing cartoon characters say "you blockhead" or "dumb" or "stupid" will irreparably harm young children. People are considering not letting their kids see the Halloween Peanuts show "The Great Pumpkin".

I work part-time as a school nurse and I have to say our anti-bullying ideas have moved so far that kids are not allowed even normal horseplay. My son got a bullying referral last year for turning the baseball cap of the kid in front of him backwards. The kid didn't complain; he thought it was funny but it was seen by a yard duty person who wrote my son up for bullying. My son was in 4th grade and 10 years old and very upset that he got a "major referral".

I do think we've coddled kids too much on some things and then let them have free reign in others.

My daughter is 23 and most men her age are constantly playing video games. One of the biggest complaint of young married women is the time their husbands spend playing video games.

We worry about "block head" but don't worry about teaching kids to be productive and limiting their time with technology.

Don't get me started . . . . .:banghead:

Edited by Spidey's mom

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I would also lay some blame on video games but that's just based on one anecdote. I have a son in his mid 20s who is still living with my ex. He's only worked occasionally and spends a lot of his awake time playing games like WOW where he can be a person of power and status. I think those games help feed his desire for self actualization while my ex enables him to live in that fantacy world without having to eek out a living in the real world.

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I heard about a study, today or yesterday, while out driving to and from errands, that said long term use of birth control pills by women result in them desiring less rugged or masculine men. I will see if I can find anything online about this, because it seems to relate to what has been said above, in part.

I would also add that I believe the heavy and increasing use of social media and the devices required to participate in it has resulted in a decrease in actual face to face social interaction. Kids aren't learning how to have horseplay and have mean nothing. And others, like the playground watcher steph mentioned are looking for it with every movement or action. Like other issues that won't go away, the more we try to eliminate it, the more of it there is......

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Commuter, I am roughly in the same age bracket as you, but have a wonderful partner who was entailed with a work ethic.

I have also been constantly puzzled by what is wrong with our current generation. I come from a working/middle class background

where both parents worked, and can't imagine a life of not working or improving myself. Not working=starvation in my brain, as I've been working since I was 16.

I think our generation was given too much freedom and told we could be anything we set our minds to, but without reasonable limits. Now we have a whole bunch of kids who want to find "fulfilling" work, but don't want to put in the time or energy to get those great jobs. They also have crushing student debt with degrees that aren't focused on any real world skills (the hordes of psychology and political science majors come to mind).

My opinion is, if work was so great to begin with, they wouldn't have to pay us to do it. Also, all work will be unpleasant in some aspect, so better to deal with it.

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Commuter, I am roughly in the same age bracket as you, but have a wonderful partner who was entailed with a work ethic.
You're very fortunate. Hold onto him tightly!

I have also been constantly puzzled by what is wrong with our current generation. I come from a working/middle class background where both parents worked, and can't imagine a life of not working or improving myself. Not working=starvation in my brain, as I've been working since I was 16.
Me, too. I grew up in a lower working class background (both parents were shift-workers at factories and plants) and experienced the result of tight financial times as a child. The refrigerator was occasionally empty, the electricity was disconnected once, and the landline phone was disconnected more than once. Oh, my mother's car was repossessed.

Since I experienced some hard times during my upbringing, I was determined to attain marketable job skills and always remain employed. I do not see why anyone would purposely want to live with Mommy and Daddy well into his middle 30s and remain a perpetual child. Independence is priceless.

I think our generation was given too much freedom and told we could be anything we set our minds to, but without reasonable limits. Now we have a whole bunch of kids who want to find "fulfilling" work, but don't want to put in the time or energy to get those great jobs. They also have crushing student debt with degrees that aren't focused on any real world skills (the hordes of psychology and political science majors come to mind).
It blows my mind when a twenty-something or person in their early 30s states that working 36 to 40 hours per week is 'too much.' Not all work is fulfilling or fun. I've worked at fast food joints, low end retail, group homes, and other unglamourous gigs. You've got to get down and dirty before you can get clean.

My opinion is, if work was so great to begin with, they wouldn't have to pay us to do it. Also, all work will be unpleasant in some aspect, so better to deal with it.
I feel that more Generation Y adults need to learn some humility and realize that the perfect job is nonexistent. Adapt or die...

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Here’s a little demographic background on me. I am a female who was born in the early 1980s and am currently in my early thirties, so my birth year and age would place me at the end of Generation X or the very beginning of Generation Y.

The statistics for the available pool of men in my age range are really discouraging, to put it lightly. According to Associated Press, young men are almost twice as likely as young women to still be living with their parents, and less likely to finish college or have a job (SodaHead, 2011). And it does not stop there! Since 1970, the percentage of people ages 18 to 34 who live at home with their family increased 48%, from 12.5 million to 18.6 million, the Census Bureau says (Jayson, 2006).

Some would say that an entire generation of young men in the U.S. has been failing to launch into adulthood due to factors such as the current state of the economy, lack of living wage jobs, and college degree inflation. However, based on my personal experiences and anecdotal information, I’ve first noticed this trend of ’childish men’ many years prior to the start of the Great Recession.

Tale number one involves a former flame that I will call ’Mickey.’ At the time that we started dating, he was 25 years old, divorced, unemployed, unmotivated, lacking ambition, and living with family. I was 20 years old with a full-time non-nursing job at a factory that paid about $40,000 annually. I referred him to the manager of one of my former workplaces and he was quickly hired based on my reference. However, he quit the job within a few months and had no other employment prospects lined up. He attended classes at the local community college with tuition that was fully paid by the GI Bill, but dropped out shortly thereafter. I saw where this was going and decided to stop talking to Mickey altogether.

Tale number two involves a man that I will call ’Grant.’ He was the perpetual teenaged boy who appeared trapped in a grown man’s body. He was almost 29 years old and was perfectly happy with his protracted adolescence: had never lived anywhere other than his childhood bedroom, worked a part-time minimum wage job at a hobby shop, was not attending school to better himself, approached life as if he was a preteen, and generally had no ambition for anything better in life. After talking in detail to Grant, I was left under the impression that he would have been pleased to live this way until old age. I prodded him about issues surrounding independence and asked him if he would consider college, trade school, the military, and so on. I was an independent, upwardly-striving 23-year-old at the time, and ended up leaving him because he was not what I wanted in a partner.

In my opinion, too many of today’s males in the 18 to 35 year-old age group are emotionally, developmentally, and physically living like younger teenagers or preteens. Young adults seemed to mentally mature faster in previous generations. However, many of the members of my generation (Generation Y) are taking longer to mature and stand up on their own feet. I am fiercely independent and cringe when I see how heavily dependent my peers are on their parents for food, shelter, money, and self esteem.

Perhaps my standards are too high for the pool of available men in my age range. Am I asking for too much by looking for a male who has ambition, values independence, and is emotionally mature? Maybe so. However, I will not back out of the uphill battle to find a good man who has actually launched into adulthood.

RESOURCES

Jayson, S. (March 16, 2006). Is failure to launch really a failure? Adult kids at home gaining acceptance. USA Today. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from MARIAL | Miss Manners

SodaHead News. (November 14, 2011). Will Failure to Launch Camps Help Young Adults? Retrieved October 26, 2012, from Will 'Failure to Launch' Camps Help Young Adults?

Sounds like your ticker might be a little off.

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Sounds like your ticker might be a little off.
Possibly. . .I'm all for introspection.

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