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My 21-Year-Old Won’t Launch, What Do I Do?

Kim Muench February 2023

Kim Muench, Becoming Me Thought Leader

Help! My 21-year-old son is addicted to pot! He smokes several times a day!

“if I had a nickel for every parent who has contacted me about this failure to launch situation, I’d be a rich woman.

A Real Live Failure To Launch Case:

“My son dropped out of college after failing three classes in his third semester and he’s now living at home without a job. I’ve tried everything I can think of to motivate him. This is causing problems between my husband and me because we can’t agree on how to handle it. Can you give me some guidance?”

Oh, if I had a nickel for every parent who has contacted me about this failure to launch situation, I’d be a rich woman. It’s so prevalent I did a TikTok video on this subject that hit over a million views in under two days. I’m sure this doesn’t give you much peace of mind, though I want to let you know you aren’t alone.

Every young person who is using pot to cope with life is different. I’m going to talk in generalities, please know I work with each parent and what steps make the most sense on a case-by-case basis.

Explore The Root Of The Launch Problem:

The most important thing you do is work towards understanding the root of the problem. What’s going on beneath the surface? No one wakes up one day saying, “I want to do nothing with my life except to smoke pot and live off my parents.” There is more to the story so you’ll need to begin to shift your attitude to one of curiosity and not anger and frustration. 

Even though I know it’s easy to feel anger as it’s happening.

Questions to ask yourself…is this behavior of self-medicating a different issue? Is your son willing to participate in a mental health evaluation? A physical? Is there a history of mental health or substance abuse in the family? This may shed important light on the situation you are dealing with.

“You and I both know you cannot “get your kid to” or “make him” do much of anything at this age”

Boundaries Are Key:

The next area to work on is boundary setting. Ideally, this is done with both you and your husband because it will go infinitely better with two parents on the same page. I work with couples to help them launch their kids for this important reason. Sometimes bringing in a trusted, neutral party when you and your spouse are not agreeing can be very beneficial and bring results.

When I say boundary setting many parents jump to the conclusion that I am talking about setting boundaries around their young adults behavior. Let me clarify, you and I both know you cannot “get your kid to” or “make him” do much of anything at this age. If you could you’d have done that by now.

Personal Boundaries:

You can however decide how you will participate in the relationship and family dynamics. And Mom, when you change, the things around you can’t help but change. They may not change exactly the way you want them to, but they will change. So you’ll need to release the outcome other than what you have control over…which is setting your personal boundaries. 

Don’t set boundaries you cannot hold consistently. To move in a positive direction, you’ve got to be realistic and consistent. These are just a few impactful thoughts and guidelines for you to begin to move from helpless to hopeful. There is always hope!

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Kim Muench Becoming Me

About the Author:

Kim Muench (pronounced minch, like pinch with an “m”) is a Jai (rhymes with buy) Institute for Parenting Certified Conscious Parenting Coach who specializes in working with mothers of adolescents (ages 10+). Knowing moms are the emotional barometer in their families, Kim is passionate about educating, supporting and encouraging her clients to raise their children with intention and guidance rather than fear and control. Kim’s three plus decades parenting five children and years of coaching other parents empowers her to lead her clients into healthier, happier, more functional relationships with compassion and without judgment. 

You can find out more about her mission and services at www.reallifeparentguide.com. She is on Facebook at Real Life Parent Guide, Instagram, and on LinkedIn as well.