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Advice For Parents

FOR PARENTS OF BOTH PRE-COLLEGE AND COLLEGE AGE KIDS

Discuss the subject of alcohol and drugs with your kids even if they don't want to and/or you have what you may think are more important things to do. Those who didnít and now can't all wish they had. Tell your kids exactly what you consider as acceptable behavior.

FOR PARENTS OF PRE-COLLEGE AGE KIDS

Learn the dangers to health, safety and life associated with underage drinking. Understand that a sizeable proportion of your kid's peer group drinks while a significantly smaller proportion of parents believe their kids might be drinking. The majority of underage kids who drink have parents who are relatively certain their kids do not drink. They are kids. Expect them to be kids.

The solution is not to host the party, provide the alcohol and take their car keys. This is a serious disservice to your kids, their friends and other parents who are trusting you with the health, safety and welfare of their kids. It is not only illegal with serious judicial consequences, but potentially could involve a tragic outcome. You are a parent, not one of the kids. Act like a responsible parent.

Know where your kids are and generally what they are doing. If necessary, actively help them find activities they consider as fun and not involving alcohol. Be very concerned when they talk about a designated driver. Dispel them of the myth that drinking and getting drunk meet the definition of FUN. Think of the example you are setting when your kids witness your behavior when you are drinking.

Participate actively in your son or daughter's selection of a college. Find out what the alcohol and drug scene is at the colleges they are considering. Determine the administration's policies on alcohol and drugs. Ask college officials for results of alcohol and drug use surveys. Compare the campus crime statistics (criminal offenses & arrests) on a per capita basis with other schools. If you have doubts about their ability to handle the alcohol scene as you would desire or expect them to or are not satisfied with the school's policies or statistics, steer them to consider other schools.

FOR PARENTS OF COLLEGE KIDS

Do not expect college administrators or the institution to serve as an alter-parent looking out for the health, welfare, safety or survival of your kids. There are no safety nets if your kid decides to act irresponsibly. Ask administrator if college notifies parents in all incidents involving alcohol or drug policy violations or if college has a form that students can sign that specifically approves having school administration notify parents of any incidents of school policy violations.

Understand that a popular college activity is not just drinking, but getting drunk. Insist that your kids know that you consider underage and excessive drinking, drunkenness, driving after drinking and riding with a driver who has been drinking as unacceptable behaviors. Exert pressure on the school administration to enforce laws and policies such that students understand that the school also considers these as unacceptable behaviors.

Do not simply accept "Mom and Dad, I know better" when you talk to your son or daughter. They probably really do when they are sober; however, alcohol impairs judgement and students do unbelievably dumb things when they have been drinking.

Take a continuing interest in what your kids are doing both academically and outside of class. Visit often and ensure there are many things to do socially besides drinking. Fun and risk should be a part of college. Alcohol and/or drugs are not required to have FUN. And alcohol should never be a factor in assessing RISK. Make certain your kids know you love them. Tell them often.


Copyright © 2003 Virginia College Parents, Inc. Last modified: February 1, 2016