College Freshmen and Partying
I remember the day clearly, the sun was shining on the field as my son walked across the stage with his diploma in hand. I was mentally patting myself on the back for having done a stellar job of getting him through high school without any drug or alcohol issues, or any unwelcome calls from police. As I look back, I understand just how incredibly naive I was to think my parenting him was all but behind me. Little did I know what lie just ahead during his freshman year in college would become the time when my role as his mother was critical to his survival and recovery.
I have to admit, we didn’t talk much about alcohol and drug use, or sex for that matter, during high school. I assumed he understood we didn’t want him doing any of those things and while I likely mentioned this in passing, I know we never really sat down and face-to-face talked about why.
I wish I would have, and that’s the point of my sharing with you today.
You cannot assume just because our culture is permeated with messages regarding the hazards of drinking/drugs, addiction, and sexually transmitted diseases that your child is picking up on these and internalizing them. You and I both know the bigger message we all receive on a daily basis is “YOLO! Delayed gratification…what’s that?” As kids head off into a world of their emerging independence and choices, we need to take the time to let them know, in no uncertain terms, what binge drinking, drug use, and casual hooking up could mean for their future.
I won’t spew statistics, let’s face it, kids don’t want to hear them anyway. My message today is much simpler: Mom and dad, you’ve got to find a way to connect with your son or daughter on a level where they understand you love them and truly desire what is best for their future.
Hopefully these kinds of talks have been ongoing in your home over their growing up years, but if not, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE!
My son started drinking long before he walked through his first college classroom, I was in denial about this and my wanting to pretend it would all be okay allowed him to spiral into addiction. While this may not happen to your child, I have spent much time since then looking at my role as a parent, and talking with lots of other families who have fallen into the same problem I experienced with my son.
As your kids head off to college this fall, please take the time to talk with them about the choices they will be facing when they are away from home. Talk about options. Talk about how you are their partner in helping them safely and successfully navigate these coming years of independent life. Be honest, be open, and above all else, be the role model they need to help them during this important stage of life.
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