You think you have problems?

We’re the parents of a 30-year-old college-grad-gone-wrong man. Our son now has two incidents and a criminal record as a result of his ten-year obsession with eastern culture (martial arts/intense spiritual yoga indoctrination). He got fired from his daytime jobs and still has a few hearings scheduled in court.

While we provide support for him, there must be some honest labor or odd jobs that he can do. Not only for $, but we feel that a sense of providing for himself can restore his self-esteem, which could be just the thing to tear him away from that spiritual breakdown and return him to society.

Do you know any job source that can tolerate his criminal record? I asked his public defender. He had no clue! We will appreciate any leads for him. Thanks a million.

The problem is that he’s getting fired presumably because of his behavior. I don’t know of any job where that would be tolerated. He has to want to build his self-esteem, or his behavior will not change.
This might sound strange to you, but a program like Toastmasters or a Dale Carnegie course might help him — if he wants the help. These groups teach self-reliance and the ability to get up in front of people to talk with poise. I find that problems with work and self-esteem often stem from a lack of self-confidence. Learning to talk to others publicly is a great path to building confidence. By changing his behavior around other people, he may be able to change his underlying attitudes. (This is a simple tenet of behavioral and cognitive psychology — behavior change can stimulate a change in attitude.)

Toastmasters is free. Carnegie charges.
The nice thing about both? Many of the people you meet in those programs have jobs in good companies. They can be the first step toward a new job.
He has to want to do it.
I wish you the best.


  1. Nick is too polite to say it but I will:

    1. Stop making excuses for a full grown man
    2. Shove him out of the nest
    3. Stay away until he shows he can earn your respect by being a responsible member of society

  2. He needs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  3. I applaud the parents for their concern and their inquiry on behalf of their son. Not being in their situation, I can’t tell whether “tough love” is required, so I leave that judgement to them.

    There may be help from a job perspective from local agencies and charities. We have several where I live that focus on matching skills to day jobs for people with disadvantages like criminal records. However, these are pretty heavily used in this economy, and the son may, sadly, be thrown in with people who will do nothing to improve his own self-image.

    So even if he takes day jobs, he should also find a volunteer position that he can do well in. Not all volunteer jobs will be open to him because of his record, but surely he can clean a beach, feed rescued wildlife, or maintain a hiking trail. Having a regular schedule and regular contact with other volunteers will help restore his sense of responsibility. He may find that he will have the opportunity to teach others to do the volunteer work, another great boost to self-image. So consider volunteer work as a bridge to responsibility, too.

    I do agree with Nick: public speaking does wonders for so many aspects of my life. When I have a “gig” coming up, I’m practicing, planning my clothes and grooming, and most important, imagining myself in charge of the room. And, of course, it’s a commitment that the son has to want to make, to. If he chooses to commit to a speaking role, hopefully he’ll remember the feeling of success and enjoy it again.

  4. Can the gentleman looking for general labor:
    Put an ad in the yellow pages?
    Become bonded through an insurance agency?
    (It may vary state to state)
    (-I advise to check on this.)
    Well established business’s with trucks&lettering do the same thing.

  5. This scenario is as good as any to pose this question related to my situation: I have used headhunters for 20 years in business, have a fave who has placed me twice and placed my last boss. I lost my job due to underperformance and ended up in jail for 4 months and inpatient alcohol rehab for 7 months. I am now a different person and excited to translate new soft skills to a resumption of my career. I cannot find any resources related specifically to recruiters offering counseling or understanding 1st or 2nd hand issues related to addiction recovery. I have not re-engaged my longtime recruitment partner as I want to explore recovery issues with an objective new recruiter. Any ideas?

  6. @CW: Good for you for making a recovery. I don’t know any headhunters who provide the sort of counseling you’re referring to. You might find a career counselor who specializes in substance abuse. But if you do that, I think you’d want to make sure the person is both experienced and credentialed. I’d think you want a psychological counselor who specializes in career work. Be careful; there are a lot of quacks out there, and too many “counselors” who want to help but don’t really know how. I’d start by contacting a hospital you trust. Ask its own counseling office who they recommend for something like this. I wish you the best.

  7. Thanks for your prompt response. I will be trolling my AA meetings for HR professionals and recruiters who understand the stigmas and honest but discreet ways to present gaps in employment and unique soft skills developed in a robust effort at recovery from addiction.

    If you could please remove my name from the posts I would appreciate it (in order to avoid recruiter/employer searches on my name).

  8. I am no expert, but in Canada we have job search programs that are funded by the provincial and federal governments. One benefit of being on welfare, which of course is no fun, is that these programs are available free of charge and sometimes the recipient receives a modest income while attending them. I am sorry for mentioning this, but some kind of psychological assessment may be a good idea. If he has an undiagnosed mental illness that is considered a disability, various job search programs may be available free of charge. Good luck.