What You Say Actually Matters
At orientation, we ask incoming freshman about parental expectations regarding alcohol use at college.
What Are You Doing to Prepare for Your Child to Turn 21?
When your child turned 16, did you put the car keys in their hand and wish them good luck? Of course not, you wanted your child to feel comfortable and be prepared before that day came. To do that, you may have enrolled your child in driver education classes, practiced in an empty parking lot or had discussions about responsible driving.
So why do we expect drinking to be any different? Too often, we avoid talking about alcohol because we think that means they won’t use it. Research consistently shows better approaches exist when preparing young adults to make decisions regarding substance use whether they choose to drink alcohol or choose not to drink alcohol.
Talk with your student about alcohol:
- Clearly state expectations, thoughts and values about alcohol and other drugs.
- Expand the conversation to include personal safety and sexual health.
- Talk openly and honestly about these topics.
- Listen to your son or daughter in a non-judgmental manner.
- Assert your expectation that he or she will follow the University’s rules and regulations.
- Be understanding of the fact that the transition to college can take time.
- Remember that the inappropriate use of alcohol and other drugs can be a sign of deeper issues; don’t be afraid to ask your son/daughter if something is going on.
- Stress the importance of community, looking out for others and knowing when to get help.
- Help your student to become aware of all the legal penalties associated with underage drinking, marijuana use, fake IDs, driving under the influence and other alcohol-related offenses.
Keep the Conversation Going
Call, email or talk with your student on a regular basis, especially during the first six weeks of the semester. Ask about academics, roommates, new friends and social activities. Join your student on campus for Family Weekend – held each year during fall semester – and meet his/her friends!
Some possible questions to get you started:
- How are classes going?
- What’s your roommate like?
- What do you do for fun?
- What’s the social scene like on campus, in Athens? Are there lots of parties, campus activities, etc.?
- Do you like living in the dorms?
- Are you meeting new people?
- Do you see others making friends or drinking buddies?
- What can I do to support you?
- What role do you think alcohol will play in your college experience?
- What will you do if you’re with friends and everyone is asking you to drink?
- What will you do if you find a student passed out in the bathroom?
- What are some ways you can tell others you do not want to drink or that you have reached your limit?
- How will you handle a roommate that excessively drinks or parties?