Guide for Parents of College StudentsThe Millennial Generation
student is considered a member of the Millennial Generation. Like all
generations, Millennial's substantially differ from the generations before, they
have grown up with access to the internet and seen technology take various
turns. Compared to previous generations, Millennial's are more numerous, better
educated, and more ethnically diverse. This generation shows great promise as
major contributors to society. For example, they show many positive social
habits, such as a focus on teamwork, achievement, modesty, and prosocial
conduct. Other characteristics of this generation include high levels of
parental involvement, being somewhat sheltered, being optimistic, and being
technologically adept. They also seem to desire structured activities and feel
pressured to make the "right" choices. Follow this link for additional
information regarding this generation http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0342.pdf.
your college student transition
Communication is one of the keys to
helping your child adjust to college. This is a time of major life changes and
increased responsibilities. Although, you may no longer be in the next room to
offer support, open communication is an important way to offer support during
the transition to college.
Listen to a which
discusses the influence of parents in teenage drinking.
What can you
As your child embarks on the role as a college student, your role as
a parent changes, not diminishes. You are still an important confidant and
source of support for your student. Here are some suggestions for supporting
your college student.
1. Discuss facts and risk factors of alcohol and drug
use with your college student.
2. Discuss clear and realistic expectations
concerning academics, finances, and drug and alcohol use.
3. Discuss their
perception of the UW social scene.
4. Discuss the balance of academics and
5. Be a good role model.
6. Engage your college student in
a continuous dialog regarding alcohol and drug use. Make sure that you listen to
Stress and Coping
Being in older
adolescence is a time of stress, the adolescent is attempting to meet and exceed
milestones and discover what it takes to be a successful adult. In order to
effectively cope with these stressors, having a toolbox full of coping
strategies is very important and beneficial. If the older adolescent does not
have these coping strategies, their risk of alcohol and drug problems, academic
and social difficulties, and risk of psychological problems increases. However,
there are four lifestyle strategies that can help decrease stress, while
1. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get plenty of
2. Avoid alcohol and other drugs.
3. Expression through a journal,
art, music, or another form that helps evaluate emotions.
4. Deep breathing
increases the oxygen supply and reduces stress.
Making a successful
Older adolescents are closer to adults than they are being
children, this is both an exciting and scary time for parents. The adolescent is
maturing, able to tolerate ambiguity, becoming more independent, and can form
intimate relationships. However, this is also a time of increased
responsibility, such as driving, beginning college, living away from their
parents, and making personal choices regarding the use of drugs and alcohol.
Before entering college and moving away from home, it is important to reassess
your house rules to allow the older adolescent to make important decisions with
the help of their caregivers. Parents are encouraged to discuss decisions with
the older adolescent, support healthy choices, and recognize that they will
continue to mature as the enter college, in addition so will your relationship
The perception exists that college and
alcohol are synonymous with one another, this perception is perpetuated from
peers, the entertainment industry (i.e., movies like Animal House and Van
Wilder), and sometimes even parents. Today the most frequently used substances
are alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs (Adderall, Oxycontin, Ritalin,
and Xanax).However, not all college students drink on a regular basis, at UW 18%
of the students report abstaining from alcohol
Often parents may think that since they drank in
college and everything turned out OK for them, that no harm can come to their
child from experimenting with alcohol. However, when students drink (especially
to excess) they are at risk for a variety of negative consequences for
themselves of those around them. For example, 25% of college students report
negative academic consequences due to drinking, such as missing class, doing
poorly on exams or papers, falling behind, and receiving lower overall grades.
Also, more than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of
alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. In addition, approximately 1,700
college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from
alcohol-related unintentional injuries. Moreover, 600,000 students between the
ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by students who were drinking and 500,000 suffer
unintentional injuries due to the influence of alcohol. Finally, 2.8 million
students between the ages of 18 and 24 reported driving while under the
influence of alcohol.
Although marijuana is thought
to be less harmful than other drugs of abuse, more than 100,000 Americans a year
seek treatment for marijuana dependence. If your college student attempts to
reassure you that they are only smoking marijuana, you should assess how much
they are smoking and how often. If there appears to be a problem or risk of a
problem, they should be referred to a health care provider, for an assessment
and possible treatment.
Abuse and misuse of
prescription drugs has increased over the years. If your college student does
have a prescription make sure they are knowledgeable about the medication. For
instance, interactions with alcohol or other drugs; dosage information; and
missed doses. College students also need to be wary of friends who will want to
buy, trade, or steal these medications, especially medications for AD/HD, pain,
anxiety, and depression.
As a parent ensure that the college student knows
that their medication status is private, help them generate creative excuses and
polite ways to decline sharing medication, and make sure the campus health
service is aware of the medication and the condition it is
Enabling occurs when people prevent natural
(often negative) consequences to occur to an individual who is engaging in high
risk behavior, which actually allows the behavior to continue. People often do
not intentionally enable. Parents of college students may be at particular risk
to unknowingly enable their child.
Examples of enabling:
Denial of a problem (It's college, lots of kids drink to these levels).
Bailing the college student out of trouble.
3. Covering up for the college
4. Make up excuses for the college student
5. Offsetting the
6. Taking over responsibility
7. Encouraging high risk use
A reason frequently stated for lack of
conversation with the college student, is not knowing how to begin a
conversation about alcohol or drugs. Here are some conversation starters:
Have you decided whether or not to drink, smoke, or experiment with drugs at
2. How can I help you with your decision?
3. Let's discuss the pros,
cons, and risks associated with your decision.
If your college student
states they intend not to drink, it is still important to continue the
1. What will you do if you're at a party and there is only alcohol
2. What will you say if someone asks why you are not drinking?
3. What if someone offers you drugs?
4. What if your friend is very
drunk? How will you know when to take them to the hospital?
Once your college student is at UW it is important
to continue to engage them in conversation. The best way to do so is to
1. Ask about classes.
2. Ask about involvement on campus.
how they meet new people.
4. Ask what they do for fun.
5. Ask if college
is different than they expected.
6. Ask what challenges they've faced and
how they've coped.
Although when your student
is home, it may be tempting to allow them to have a party with alcohol at your
home, in order to keep them safe in the privacy of your own home, rather than
drinking at a bar, it is illegal for you to do this. You are at risk for
criminal liability by the state which can lead to fines or imprisonment, as well
as civil liability, where a private party can seek monetary damages resulting
from injuries due to permitting underage drinking on the
The information on this page is from multiple
Phoenix House's Center on Addiction and the Family, and Prevention
Strategies, LLC (2006)
David Cozzens 2008 parent orientation lecture
University Health Center: A division of the University of Georgia's webpage: http://www.uhs.uga.edu/parents/aod.html