What Can Parents do… A LOT!
- Talk to your student before they come to college about alcohol and drugs.
- In particular, discuss with your student your family heredity to substance abuse and disordered eating problems. Currently, 90% of tolerance is thought to be hereditary and family history increases your student’s risk of experiencing a substance use problem.
- Explore the local laws of North Carolina regarding substance use, DUI’s, fake IDs, and distribution to minors with your student and remind them about the legal consequences of these behaviors.
- Discuss your expectations of your student.
Tips for a Positive Discussion
An excellent resource which gives tips on how to have these conversations, as well as more detailed information about alcohol use and abuse in college students is “College Parents Matter . . . Have the Conversation” produced by the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Other Problems. The website is: http://www.collegeparentsmatter.org/index.html.
Other strategies for having a productive conversation are:
- Ask open-ended questions – To help facilitate a two-way dialogue, ask questions that cannot be answered with “yes” or “no”.
- Listen to your student without interrupting – Show respect when your student is talking. This can help strengthen your relationship and may lead to other personal conversations.
- Give positive feedback – Make positive comments about your student’s responsible choices, and not just the negative choices.
- Be direct – Be sure your student knows exactly where you stand about studying, free-time, and underage drinking. Ambiguity can lead to mixed messages.
- Control your emotions – Try to speak in a calm, relaxed voice so you don’t push your student away. Stay focused and keep to the facts.
- Use summaries – Clarify things your student tells you by saying, “Let me see if I understand…” or “What you are telling me is…”. This shows that you are listening to your student and want to better understand your student’s views.
- Remember, you know your student better than anyone. Find a comfortable communication method that works for both you and your student. Talk with your student frequently.