Talking about Alcohol with Your Son or Daughter
Being in college marks a turning point in the relationship between you, as a parent or guardian, and your son or daughter. Whether you student is among those living on their own for the first time, or is returning to MIAD, the college experience leads to additional freedoms, responsibilities and control of decision-making.
Among those decisions is the choice whether to drink alcohol and to what extent. At this point in their lives, many young adults have yet to develop personal values or limits regarding alcohol use.
Like college campuses nationwide, MIAD is concerned about the negative consequences of high-risk drinking and takes a proactive approach to addressing these concerns.
During Orientation, all new students hear about the risks of drinking and the benefits of keeping their minds and bodies in balance. At this time, they are introduced to the staff available to them, throughout their studies, to address concerns, including those that deal with alcohol or other drugs.
“We also believe, that you, as a parent, can be an essential partner in efforts to address alcohol use,” says Sara Thor, MIAD's Student Accessibility Coordinator. “You can still play a positive and influential role in your student’s life. We encourage you to have open, honest and ongoing conversations with your student that can have lifelong impact.”
Below are some suggestions on how to engage in such conversations with your student from the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and Facts on Tap.
- Be specific when speaking to your student. Express your ideas and values clearly and directly. If you don’t want your student consuming alcohol as an underage adult, tell them. Reinforce the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they have to learn and grow, personally and professionally, during their studies at MIAD.
- Share your own experiences with alcohol, but avoid tales of the “good old days.” Laughing about your experiences can appear to give your consent to irresponsible choices. Rather, focus on whether you chose to drink, and whether negative consequences resulted if you did so. And remember, whether your student admits it or not, you are still a role model to them.
- Make sure that your son or daughter understands the penalties and consequences for underage drinking, public drunkenness, using a fake ID, driving under the influence, assault and other alcohol-related offenses.
- Talk about the importance of friendship and individuality. Remember that young adults truly want to be accepted by their peers and perceived as “normal.” Have a frank discussion about what it means to live with integrity according to one’s values. Talk about the true meaning of friendship.
- Acknowledge that your son or daughter could be making unwise decisions about alcohol. Parents are often surprised to find their child has gotten into trouble because of high-risk drinking. If your student is a returning student, ask them if they met their goals last year or last semester. Were they involved on campus? If not, ask them if they know why and what they might do differently this semester.
- Be aware of the signs of possible alcohol abuse by your son or daughter (e.g., lower grades, never available or reluctant to talk with you, unwilling to talk about activities with friends, trouble with campus authorities, serious mood changes). Do not blame them, but find appropriate treatment at the sources listed below.
- Tell your student to intervene when classmates are in trouble with alcohol and appear unresponsive. Nothing is more tragic than failing to call for help due to the fear of getting someone “in trouble.”
- Tell students to stand up for their right to a safe academic environment. Students who do not drink can be affected by the behavior of those who do, ranging from interrupted study time to assault or unwanted sexual advances. Students can confront these problems directly by discussing them with the offender. If that fails, they should notify the Residence Hall director or other residence hall staff.
On Campus Resources:
Student Accessibility Coordinator
Room RL-100B, 414.847.3347
Associate Dean of Students
Room RL-9, 414.847.3344
Dean of Students
Room RL-45C, 414.847.3240
MU Counseling Center
Holthusen Hall Room 204
1324 W. Wisconsin Ave.
MU Student Health Services
East Side of N. 16th, between
Clybourn & Wisconsin Ave.
Click here for additional information and to view a questionnaire assessing alcohol consumption.