Talking with your Student about Alcohol

Eight Points for Parents Speaking with Students about Alcohol

  1. Set clear and realistic expectations regarding academic performance. Studies conducted here at Elon, as well as nationally, have demonstrated that alcohol misuse contributes to a decline in GPA. If students know their parents expect a certain standard of academic work, they are likely to be more devoted to their studies.
  2. Stress to your student that alcohol is toxic and excessive consumption can be fatal. The fact is that a number of college students students die every year from alcohol poisoning. Discourage high risk activities such as drinking games, day drinking, and taking shots.
  3. Tell your student to intervene if someone else needs help. Elon has policies to protect students who both need medical help as a result of drinking alcohol or who get help for someone else.
  4. Remind your student that they deserve to live in a safe environment; encourage them to advocate for themselves if someone else’s drinking negatively affects them. Students who do not drink can be affected by the behavior of those who do, ranging from interrupted study time or sleep to vandalism, assault or unwanted sexual advances. Students can confront these problems directly or indirectly by reaching out to campus resources such as Campus Safety and Police, Residence Life, Safeline, Office of Student Conduct, etc.
  5. Know the realities of alcohol on campus. Contrary to what you might see in movies, the majority of college students choose to drink moderately or not at all. However, students often believe that other students use alcohol more often and in higher quantities than is the reality; this can lead to increases in their own alcohol consumption. Confronting misconceptions about alcohol use is important.
  6. Avoid tales of drinking exploits from your own college years. Telling your student stories of your own excessive drinking normalizes the behavior (regardless of whether the situation had a positive or negative outcome). These stories may also appear to give parental approval to excessive drinking.
  7. Encourage your student to get involved in student organizations as well as in the local community. In addition to structuring free time, getting involved provides students with opportunities to make firends, develop social networks, develop job-related skills and to gain valuable experience. Helping others also gives students a broader outlook and a healthier perspective on the opportunities they enjoy. Getting involved helps students connect with their campus community, increasing their likelihood of graduating.
  8. Model responsible alcohol use in your home if you choose to drink. Whether or not you choose to drink, talk with your student about what it means to use alcohol responsibly.

Adapted from College Parents of America

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