One of the things most parents do not like to confess publicly is that they live for the day their children will become adults and leave their homes. The reason parents invest so heavily in their children as they take sacco loans to pay fees, buy all manner of textbooks and pay for all kinds of educational gadgets is so that someday these children will become adults. Ideally, parents want to raise children who become adults who can stand on their own feet and live independently – not sponging off their parents.
However, these dreams have become mirages for many modern day parents because most of today’s children suffer from the failure-to-launch syndrome (sometimes referred to as the FLS syndrome). Simply put, the failure-to-launch syndrome is the inability/failure/unwillingness of adult children to leave their parents’ homes to create their own lives. Some parents have written to me, moaning and complaining about grown men and women causing them sleepless nights due to their failure to launch.
The failure-to-launch syndrome usually starts ever so innocently and that is why most parents fail to notice it until it is too late. The first sign is when the child joins college. Most normal young adults look forward to college as that is the period to experience excessive freedom, to have wild parties and push the boundaries of wild behaviour without anyone to ask for permission or forgiveness. The typical FLS child will find some reason to still stay in the family home instead of embracing this new life of wanton freedom.
Usually the parent obliges the child because after all, we all know that college hostels are not what they used to be -- they are congested, dirty and unsafe. It is only logical that the adult stays home, especially since most parents have invested in huge mansions with many ensuite bedrooms and luxury style amenities. The parent reckons that there is nothing wrong with this arrangement and fails to notice that this FLS adult displays no sign of independence, for everything is taken care of in the family domestic set up.
When it comes to meals, the young adult simply joyrides on the family menu and therefore has no appreciation of what is the average cost of necessities like bread, soap and milk. This is in sharp contrast to the other hostel living adults who learn to negotiate for extra chips mwitu or smokey pasuas at the local kibanda. When it comes to laundry, the FLS adult need not worry for there is a house help to deal with such matters or better still a washing machine. This adult does not know that jeans do not have to be washed every day and that you use Mama Nguo services for bulk washing. It does not end there, this adult has access to a fuelled car, free Wi-Fi and is usually on a fluid budget allowance. The parent sees no harm with this arrangement for they consider it creating an enabling environment for the young adult.
One of the downsides of home living for the college student is that he or she does not have access to the after lecture network that is critical for getting a decent degree in college and to knowing where opportunities outside college exist. The student misses out on those informal conversations where leakage on exams happens; misses out on those opportunities to transfer knowledge, aka copying. So a vast majority of FLS students end up getting rather average grades, which then means that they miss out on job opportunities. Only the really inspired and real disciplined students really find a way of using the home comforts to their advantage -- many like to use them for generating social media likes and posts.
Come graduation day, the FLS child graduates with at best a lower class degree but thankfully daddy and mummy use their connections to hook them up with an entry-level job. This is when things get hairy -- the said adult soon realises that Sh50, 000 is really not that much money, especially if you still want to wear designer clothes and do tequila shots every weekend. They soon realise that Sh50, 000 does not go far if you consider gourmet coffee and sandwiches to be a must-have every day. They also realise that Sh50, 000 does not go far when you use Uber daily to and from work. They therefore opt to stay at home until they can ‘earn enough’ to move out. The only problem is that the ‘earn enough’ moment never comes because they first have an average degree, have a poor work ethic and naturally expect that they will always fall back on mummy and daddy. In fact, they get so annoyed about these ‘ill-paying’ jobs that they quit and go back home where they spend lots of time on the Internet claiming to do research while others say they are taking time to "find themselves”.
Only that the ‘finding themselves’ takes forever and comes at a hefty cost to the parents. Parents get stressed about these FLS adults who still hog the family TV to play video games, who use the family car and leave it fuel-less and full of dents. They complain about these FLS adults who still demand an allowance for all their needs -- from underwear to data bundles. The only problem is this realisation comes too late. It is my view that FLS adults will only increase in future given our weak parenting skills, the congested universities and of course tough economy. Let’s brace ourselves for the ride.
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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke