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 child decides to act irresponsibly. Ask administrators if the college notifies parents in all incidents involving alcohol or drug policy violations, or if the 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 “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 to be unacceptable behaviors. Exert pressure on the school administration to enforce laws and policies so that students understand that the school also considers these to be 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 and have done 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; ensure there are many and varied things to do socially besides drinking. Fun and risk can be a part of college; but alcohol and/or drugs are not required to have FUN and alcohol should never be a factor in experiencing RISK. Make certain your kids know you love them—tell them often.
● Learn the dangers to health, safety, and life associated with underage drinking. Understand that a sizeable proportion of your kid's peer group probably drinks, while a significantly smaller proportion of parents believe their kids are the drinkers. The majority of underage children who drink have parents who are relatively certain their kids do not. They are kids—expect them to be kids.
● You cannot and should not host the party, provide the alcohol, after collecting their car keys. This is a serious disservice to your children, 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 it could potentially involve a tragic outcome. Act like a responsible parent—you are a parent, not one of the kids.
● Know where your kids are, and generally what they are doing. If necessary, help them find activities they consider fun but do not involving alcohol. Be very concerned when they talk about a designated driver. Dispel them of the myth that drinking and getting drunk are the definition of FUN. Think of the example you set when your kids see you drinking. You must be responsible, legally drink in moderation, and always set a healthy, safe example.
● Participate actively in your son or daughter's selection of a college. Find out about the alcohol and drug scene at each of the colleges they’re considering. Know and understand the administration's policies on drugs and alcohol. Ask college officials for results of drug and alcohol use surveys. Learn the candidate schools’ campus crime statistics, such as criminal offenses and arrests on a per capita basis, and compare them with other schools. If you have doubts about a school’s ability to properly handle the alcohol scene to the degree you desire or expect, discuss it with your child. Tell them you are not satisfied with the school's policies or statistics—you’re concerned; steer them away from those schools and towards schools that have better statistics and safer campuses.
Discuss the alcohol and drugs with your kids, even if they don't want to and/or even if you have what you may think are more important things to do or topics to discuss. Those who didn’t and now can't all wish they had. Tell your kids exactly what you consider, and what you expect, as their acceptable behavior. Your 13-year old child should still be your child when the are 21 or 31.