‘Failure to launch kids’: Canadian students aren’t prepared for adulthood

Image Source: Global News

Recently, Global News interviewed one of the therapists on our team, Erin O’Rourke, in a story from their four-part series about the transition between high school and “the real world”.

Erin talked about the impact of big decision on a young brain…


An excerpt from ‘Failure to launch kids’: Canadian students aren’t prepared for adulthood, By Meghan Collie. Published: September 17th, 2019

One of these experts is Erin O’Rourke, a teacher in the Toronto District School Board and a registered psychotherapist (qualifying) at the Toronto Counselling Centre for Teens. She worries about the pressure the education system puts on young people.

She says many students haven’t figured out what they want to do with their lives: “I guess you could call them the ‘failure to launch’ kids,’” she said.

In her experience, asking teenagers to make life-changing decisions about their education and career is problematic for a number of reasons.

“We live in a world where [these kids] have been socialized from a very young age to [believe that they] can be anything,” O’Rourke said.

“How, in a world where you’re told that you can do anything or be anything, could you choose one thing that you want to be?”

O’Rourke is also concerned about the ongoing brain development of a teen that age.

“They are in a stage of redevelopment unlike any other, since they were first conceived. The [part of the brain] that’s involved in long-term decision-making, problem solving, managing time, weighing out consequences — that takes well into the twenties to really develop,” she said.

“So for them to try and make a long-term decision at that point is a hard thing to do, for sure.”

Although there isn’t enough research to suggest the pressure to make tough decisions about education or careers is directly linked to mental health issues, experts like O’Rourke says there could be a relationship between the two.

“Not knowing what you want to do with your life [can make you feel] really anxious, which could lead to depressive symptoms,” she said.