In addition to preparing your student with the practical side of becoming an adult, there are some conversations you should have before sending your student off to campus about alcohol, drugs, and sexual decision making. As a parent, you still have considerable influence and can help your student avoid and resolve problems. By talking with, and listening to, your student, you can offer information, support, and guidance. Talk with your student before arrival on campus and continue your discussions during the school year.

Here are a few suggestions for productive discussions.

  • Be specific about what you expect them to do in college (abstain or drink moderately, make positive choices about sexuality and eating patterns, practice financial responsibility.)
  • Ask questions, but be prepared for the answers. Learn to listen in a non judgmental manner. This will keep communication open.
  • Do not romanticize your own experience with alcohol or other drugs. You may inadvertently encourage this behavior.

To help you get started, here are a few suggestions for questions to ask:

  • “What are some decisions that you are facing right now?”
  • “How do you cope when you feel stressed?”
  • “What do you think helped you cope with stress before going to college that you could still rely on now?”
  • “What do you do with friends in your free time?”
  • “How will you deal with pressure to drink or drink too much?”
  • “What kinds of activities are available besides parties with alcohol?”
  • “How do you deal with someone who is pressuring you to increase physical intimacy in a relationship?”
  • “How would you make sure that a partner gives consent for sexual activity?”
  • “What are the positive/negative aspects of a sexual relationship?”
  • “How do you protect yourself emotionally and physically in a sexual relationship?”
  • “How do you talk about your sexual boundaries with a partner?”

*Courtesy of University Health Service. Visit the University Health Service for more information.