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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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21 year old grandson has serious behavioral problems

Customer Question

21 year old grandson has serious behavioral problems
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 4 years ago.
Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

If you could be more specific, I could focus my answer. As a college professor I have worked with hundreds of young men and women, some of whom had terrible problems.

Please get back to me. If you ask for me by name, I will be able to get to your question much faster.

Warm regards,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
He has many positive traits but his is totally oblivious to the consequenses of bad behavior - such as lying and stealing.
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 4 years ago.
Dear concerned grandparent,

Thank you for getting back to me. Your grandson is an adult and cannot be "taken to the woodshed", so to speak, to be corrected by parents (if they are in the picture, you never said).

Perhaps he has already suffered the consequences of his bad behavior and does not care because he has Antisocial Personality Disorder, in which case he may be heading into a life of crime and incarceration. If this is the case, if he has already been arrested, tried or convicted, and been to jail, and he doesn't care, then there is not much you can do to help him. I have counseled in a local jail for years and I have seen this type of person. They just do not care.

On the other hand, he may not have been caught and is oblivious to the consequences of his actions, getting caught and facing the criminal justice system may wake him up.
He is still rebellious and thinks he knows it all. If he is otherwise a good young man, which you seem to imply, then getting his comeuppance might be the best thing for him.

Hopefully, he will be stopped by the law in a manner that does not scar him psychologically, but just teaches him a lesson that straightens him out.

It there any chance that you could get him out of his environment for awhile, put him to work where he will learn some responsibilities and the meaning of hard work and working together with others (such as a farm or ranch)? This is the kind of therapy he needs. He needs a change of scene, from a negative to a positive one.

I have seen it work before,

His last option is to enlist in the military, which includes the Coast Guard. They will make a man out of him.

I certainly hope that your activism helps here. He needs a family member who is behind him and supports him. I salute you for that. You are an excellent grandparent.

Warm regards,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello Dr. Sewell:


Sorry I'm late getting back to you but I wanted to bring you up to date. Thank you for your comments and your preliminary diagnosis. I was mistaken about mygrandson's age. He is 20, won't be 21 until next April. Johnny is an Eagle Scout (still active as a scout leader), accomplished musician (plays first violin in the local symphony orchestra) and is active in his church. He was treated for Attention Deficit Disorder as a child. Over the years he has demonstrated disregard for the consequences of his actions- failed to turn in homework assignments, made up excuses, rationalized, began stealing and lying about it.He barely made it through High School. I would say he has become untrustworthy, unreliable and unrealistic. He wanted to go to college but did not begin to have the qualifications. He has no friends. His younger brother is just the opposite - top high school grades, full scholarship to college. Johnny has had some unfortunate experiences during the past year or so that may have served as a wake up call. He stole a neighbor's diamond ring and credit card (and used it), used his mothers's credit card, stole cash from me and his grandmother. For the ring and credit card incident he was arrested and went to court where he was let off easy as a first offender (two years probation). Later he was caught stealing a $25. item from Costco and was arrested and ordered to appear in court, which he failed to do. A warrant was issued, and he went to jail for four days. At a court hearing he was fined $200. and put on five years probation. I met with Johnny. He admitted he has problems, wants to solve them and is willing to accept help. It is very difficult for him to find a job because of his arrest record. But he has able to find odd jobs. I met with Johnny and his Mom and we reached an agreement that Johnny would pay back the money he stole from us. He wants to pay the court as soon as possible. Yesterday he came over and paid us what he owes. I told him if he's short on funds to pay the court I'd load him the difference. He wants to go on a mission for the LDS church. He's the first to admit he needs a structured program.The church and the court would have to agree on this. We're working on that. It fits with your recommendation for a change in environment. Also I have arranged for Johnny to see a local therapist, which I have agreed to pay for. I think we are making progress.

Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 4 years ago.
Dear Ray,

I am so happy to hear the heartening news about Johnny's progress. It sounds as if he is truly repentant. No amount of punishment can make a person repentent. It must come from deep within, and is a matter of the spirit.

I think that going on a mission will build the discipline and character that he needs. Having the opportunity to see others helping those in need, physically and spiritually, would be the best possible role model for him.

You must find someone at the LDS church to sponsor him and speak for him. If he has someone of authority behind him, then the courts would be more likely to agree to the plan.

You personal kindness and generosity are also an inspiration to him, and set the right example for other family members to follow. Forgiveness is a powerful force, and when combined with the repentance of the forgiven one, can move mountains.

I encourage you to move forward with this plan. I will keep your family in my prayers.

Warm regards,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC