The Failure to Launch

John Greenleaf Whittier's poem of The Barefoot Boy with "turned up pantaloons" and "health that mocks the doctor's rules" may have once symbolized carefree youth but anyone who actually lets his offspring do this today would probably be charged with child abuse.  For better or worse modern "helicopter parents" now frown on tree climbing, unsupervised river swims or risky activity. Perhaps as a consequence a Scientific American article says "that since around 2000, teens have become considerably less likely to drive, have an after-school job and date. By the early 2010s, it also appeared that 12th graders were going out far less frequently than 8th graders did in the 1990s."  The article thinks the current generation is living through extended adolesence.  Twenty five is the new 18.

An increasing percentage of young people live at home. "Fifteen percent of 25- to 35-year-old Millennials ... 5 percentage points higher than the share of Generation Xers ... in 2000 ... and nearly double the ... Silent Generation who lived at home in 1964 (8%)".  Nor is the phenomenon confined to the the US.  The Guardian quotes "a major European survey ... that almost half of 18-29 year olds are still living with their parents, with young men most likely to find themselves living at home." "Almost all my friends live at home" said one young adult living in Melbourne, Australia, a trend which has led some social scientists -- and even Hollywood -- to coin the phrase to describe this retrograde development: a failure to launch.

Even the Huffington Post can't not help but mock the live-at-homes though it characterizes the Failure to Launch like any other deficiency the government has failed to supply, resulting in victimization.  Somehow the "real-life struggle of young people, 19 to 28, who lack the tools to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood. ... seemingly hav[ing] little intrinsic motivation to move through life" is something to be remediated.

organizational coaches can be employed ... Individual therapy can be of great benefit to address doubts about the person’s own sense of effectiveness and ambivalence about entering adulthood. ... Finally, medications to treat underlying symptoms of attention, anxiety and depression can be helpful if prescribed judiciously.

But few seem to connect the Failure to Launch with the projects of the 20th century.  Nobody sees it as something we created or linked it with the dubious achievements of the progressive movement; specifically that ongoing endeavor of the late 20th and early 21st centuries: the war on youth.  Look at the numbers.

Today's young people are the survivors of a long and murderous campaign of abortion and birth control which have decimated their ranks.  In Europe and in China the youth are simply gone, vanished, decimated. "Consistently low birth rates and higher life expectancy are transforming the shape of the EU-28’s age pyramid; probably the most important change will be the marked transition towards a much older population structure, a development which is already apparent in several EU Member States." Not a single EU member country has a birthrate above replacement.  No machine gun could have been so murderous.