Talking to Your Student About Alcohol
1. Educate Yourself
The websites listed below are informative and interesting. They also provide useful tips for discussing college drinking with your son or daughter. According to the research, first-year students are most at risk for developing problems that can arise from social pressure and experimentation with new behaviors.
- College Drinking: Changing the Culture
- For Parents of College-Bound Students
- Parents, You're Not Done Yet.
2. Talk with Your Son or Daughter Before Coming to Campus
A study conducted by Boise State University (2001) indicated that first-year college students had "lower drinking tendencies (and fewer) drinking consequences" when their parents "were educated about binge drinking and how to convey information to their teens, and then encouraged to talk with their teens just before" their students started college. So, contrary to what you may think, parents can have considerable influence on students and students respect and listen to their parents more often than we give them credit for.
Here are some tips for having a conversation with your son or daughter:
- Clearly state your expectations with regard to alcohol.
- Expand the conversation to include personal safety, sexual activity and drugs other than alcohol.
- Make it your family's goal to talk openly and honestly about these topics.
- Listen to your son or daughter in a non-judgmental manner.
- Let him or her know that at the University of Maryland, most students party responsibly, and there are many students who choose not to drink at all.
- Assert your expectation that he or she will follow the University's rules and regulations and utilize its safety resources.
- Be understanding of the fact that transition to college can be a difficult time, and students will be trying to fit in with new friends.
- Remember that the inappropriate use of alcohol and other drugs often is a sign of deeper issues; don't be afraid to ask your son or daughter what might be going on.
- Stress to your son or daughter the importance of also looking out for others and knowing when to get help.
3. Keep the Conversations Going
Call and email your son or daughter frequently, especially during the first six weeks of the semester. Ask often about academics, roommates, your student's social/leisure time activities, and drinking and social behaviors of roommates and friends. Visit him or her on Family Weekend (held during the fall semester each year) or on other occasions. Ask to meet his or her friends.
4. Contact Us If You Need Help Dealing with a Situation
If you are concerned about your student with regard to alcohol (e.g., experiences academic problems, reluctant to speak with you or return your calls, resists talking about friends and social time), please feel free to contact any of the on-campus support resources listed below.
Campus Resource List
Alcohol Peer Educators: 301.314.8124
Alcohol/Other Drug Education/Outreach: 301.314.8124
Counseling Center: 301.314.7651
Health Center: 301.314.8161
Parent Warmline: 301.314.7651
Parent and Family Affairs: 301.314.8429
Sexual Assault Information: 301.314.2222
Student's Resident Director: 301.314.7399 or 301.314.7484
Substance Abuse Programs: 301.314.8128
University Chaplains: 301.314.9893
University Police: 301.405.3555
Talk with your student about alcohol. While parents may not be able to actively monitor students away from home, they can be available to talk and listen, and that is just as important. It can do more than help shape livesit can save lives.
Much of this material was taken from the Department of Resident Life website. For more information about students and alcohol, including university policies, visit the Resident Life Web site at www.resnet.umd.edu/policies/alcoholpolicy/.