All too often, criminal conduct becomes a habit, either because a person doesn't know any other way to live or they feel there is no other recourse for themselves due to being labeled a criminal. When it's your adult child stuck in this vicious cycle, your life can be a nightmare, facing one arrest after another. You can be tough and you can make a difference in your adult child's life, but it won't be easy and you can't do it by yourself.
1. Get Out Of Mom Or Dad Mode
As tough as it is to be tough with your child, it's a necessary part of helping them change their ways. If your adult child gets the impression you're still running to them whenever they call you, you could be taken advantage of and, ultimately, be encouraging or enabling your child to continue on their destructive path.
Turn from the loving mom or dad into a stricter, less tolerant guide. While you'll never stop loving your child, it may be necessary to act more like a drill sergeant than the person who will solve every problem they create, no matter how long it goes on for or how deep into trouble they get.
2. Hire A Criminal Lawyer Who Won't Coddle
You could find a lawyer who will follow your child around, trying to clean up the legal messes made, or you might opt for one who'll maintain a tougher stance, just like you. If you're the one paying for the criminal law attorney, you can request that they take a hard line when it comes to accepting future foul-ups. Tell your adult child directly that the purpose of the lawyer isn't to constantly bail them out of trouble but rather to successfully redirect them from a criminal career.
Sometimes, when children have been repeatedly let off the hook or rescued by mom, dad, and an ace attorney, they get the idea that it's okay to keep doing what they're doing, which is the last message you want to send to your kid.
3. Lay Down The Law At Home
If your child ends up having to live with you, set up rules the same way you would if they were a teenager. They should have a curfew to discourage them from hanging out in the wrong places, and they should be made to act responsibly around the house. If you act like you're running a hotel, cleaning up after them, and serving delicious meals, your child has no incentive to change. Make things a little difficult for them, so they feel challenged and then feel like they've accomplished something after they've met your terms. Restrict them socially too if you know the people they're fraternizing with are a bad influence.
4. Set Your Child Up For Success
It's tough to put your best face forward if you feel like you're a total failure or if you can't put together a decent outfit. Don't hesitate to get your adult child cleaned up and looking like a person a business would want to hire, even if they've recently been in trouble. Insist that they present themselves in a positive way and bring them to interviews so you know they're actually making the effort. If you can and are so inclined, ask people you know to give your kid a chance with a job to get them started off on the right foot.
5. Fight To Have The Criminal Records Sealed Or Expunged
A good lawyer won't stop at clearing your child's name—they may be able to get the records for the crimes sealed or even expunged. Depending on what your child did, what the verdict was, and how your particular state handles these matters, the criminal history could disappear.
As your child learns and strives to do better in life, they're going to need more opportunities for employment, apartments, and possibly loans than what may be available to a person with a criminal record. If charges are dropped, a verdict of innocence is reached, or proof of rehabilitation can be shown, your child may have a good shot at having their record(s) sealed or expunged. Talk to your lawyer about this, but only if you all truly believe your child is finished with illegal activity.
6. If Your Child Straightens Out, Put The Crime(s) In The Past
Once you, your lawyer, and other family members have succeeded in helping your adult child on a better path in life, work to forgive and forget. You'll likely all feel a little precarious and unsure what the future holds, but if you express resentment or otherwise put your kid down, you could be convincing them they're never going to really change. It's your tough love that can force them off the criminal path, but your kind words and encouragement that will keep them there.
A criminal doesn't always have to be a criminal; in fact, most don't want to live that way to begin with. The cycle, though, is too easy to get into and very difficult to get out of. With the help of a good lawyer and your tough love and determination, your adult child stands a chance.