While your students are now on their own, you still have ways to encourage them to make choices that keep them healthy and ensure a fun and safe time.
For example, talking about alcohol is not as difficult as you may think. Students are most receptive when parents use a non-judgmental tone and ask questions that help the student reflect on their choices (e.g., “What’s your plan for getting to and from the party?” vs. “Make sure you have a designated driver.” Or “What happens to students if they are caught drinking?” vs. “You know you’ll get into a lot of trouble if you’re caught.”).
As you may have experienced, “lectures” tend to shut down communication. So, use questions to help students think and problem-solve out loud about how they plan to handle drinking at college.
Some conversation-starters include:
- Ask about their plans for the weekend and express curiosity about other events going on and near campus
- If they attend off-campus parties, share some of SSAC tips on safe rides
- Talk about the concept of “consent” (what it is, why you need it, and how you get it), regardless of your student’s gender
- Invite them to review websites of various campus resources (list of University Life offices) for suggestions and services.
If you are concerned that your student has a problem with drugs or alcohol, consult this step-by-step guide developed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.