This is probably a post I should have written a month ago. However it came to me this morning while I was on my morning walk around Madison. Summer has arrived for our college students. Unless they are attending summer sessions, they are most likely home.
A common questions I get from parents is “Should I let my college-aged student drink in my home when they are home from school?” Logically they think “I know they are drinking at school anyway.” This is a great question and I am always happy to provide some thoughts. I also cover two other topics I think are worth covering with your child college student.
College Students – Quasi Adults
I remember when I was dropped off by my parents at college. While my mother cried my father took me to the side and told me two things.
- Call your mother every week to check in
- You are an adult now
As the youngest of four boys I was my mother’s baby. I made sure to call her a couple of times per week. This made her happy. This was a good directive from my father. After all, mothers worry.
His second point, that I was now an adult, was a little off. Technically based on age I was. But going to college was like having the training wheels taken off. At best I would say I was a quasi adult; part adult part child. I certainly had much more responsibility and a greater degree of freedom, but I was still immature and prone to poor decisions. By the time I finished college I was more of an adult than when I went to college.
Expectations to Discuss with your College Student Child
Set up time with your child where you can sit down and discuss your expectations. I would caution against ambushing your child or having the conversation at 7 a.m. on your way out the door to work. Set up time in advance. Topics to cover:
- Do not allow underage drinking in your home: Hosting underage drinking is illegal. I’m not going to take a moral stance on this about how breaking the law is wrong. My point is that allowing underage drinking or hosting parties where it occurs opens up the homeowner to serious liability if something goes wrong. It is not uncommon for someone underage to become impaired, get behind the wheel of a car, and get into an accident.
- Discuss drinking and driving with your child: Tell your child that you cannot control what they do outside of your home. However under no circumstances are they allowed to drink and drive. If they have been drinking they need to sleep out or find a safe ride home. If they need to they can call you. They also must not get into the car with a driver who has been impaired. Drinking and driving can have life altering consequences.
- Set curfew time: This is usually a touchy subject. Your child might bristle at having a curfew saying, “I didn’t have one while I was at school.” Fight the inclination to reply “Well this is my house so it’s my rules.” Seek input from your child. Remember they are a quasi-adult. Have a conversation and come up with mutually agreed upon rules
As a member of Al-Anon I spend a lot of time with mothers who are excited about their children coming home from school. By the time June rolls around though they tell me they can’t wait to have the peace of their household back when their children return to school. Reintegrating in one household can be a little rough. On the one hand your child is always your child. On the other your child has partially become an adult. Realize that there may be some rocky moments. Have patience. Remember though that your house is your house. Do not condone illegal or dangerous behavior. Feel free to reach out to us here at NJFAI if you have any questions, comments or concerns.