Talking to your children about alcohol and other drugs
Starting the conversation
1. Ask yourself some questions about the values and beliefs YOU have that relate to alcohol.
- How do YOU feel about alcohol?
- What kind of alcohol related expectations and beliefs do you hold?
- How will you share these thoughts with your child?
2. Listen to what your student has to say. Ask him or her to share, thoughts, feelings, concerns and opinions with you. For example, try asking your student questions like:
- What role do you think alcohol will play in your life at Skidmore?
- Do you feel that alcohol is a major part of the social scene at college? How do you feel about that?
- How do you think you'll keep yourself safe at a party where there is alcohol?
3. Communicate with your student. Use what he or she says to spark conversations and to convey some of your own feelings. Set clear expectations and make sure that your student understands the reasons behind your expectations. Carefully state your opinions and avoid "door slammers" like:
- You're too young to understand
- Don't come to me if you mess up
- I don't care what your friends are doing
4. Educate your student about the dangers of alcohol abuse. For example, you may choose to:
- Explain Blood Alcohol Concentration (also referred to as Blood Alcohol Content and Blood Alcohol Level) and make sure that he or she understands the risks associated with drinking too much too quickly. You can also describe the major signs of alcohol poisoning. (Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused, Vomiting, Seizures, Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute), Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths), Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness.)
- Encourage your student to avoid drinking games that involve drinking large quantities or alcohol in a short time period.
- Encourage your child to alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- Remind you child to never leave a drink unattended and to use the buddy system at parties and other events
5. Help your child to anticipate and prepare for new experiences related to alcohol that he or she may encounter at Skidmore. For example, consider asking your student:
- How will you feel if your roommate is a heavy drinker?
- What will you do if you are worried about an intoxicated friend?
6. Encourage your student to join clubs and activities that interest him or her. Studies show that involved students, and especially students who volunteer, are less likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs. You can learn more about community service opportunities at Skidmore by clicking here.
7. Set a good example for your student. Take a look at your own behaviors and conversations and make sure that you are showing them how to be a responsible adult in the presence of alcohol.
More questions you can ask:
- What do you think Skidmore will be like? Do you think that a lot of students will use alcohol there?
- How will you decide whether or not to drink at Skidmore?
- What will you do if your roommate really enjoys drinking and partying?
- What will you do if you find yourself at a party with only alcohol to drink?
- What else is there to do on campus besides go to parties on weekends?
- What will you do if a friend of yours wants to drive home and they are intoxicated? What if they don't want to listen to you?
- How can you participate in the social activity of going to parties, but not drink?
- What are the resources on campus for you or a friend if you have concerns about alcohol? If you don't know, where can we find this information?
- If you do plan to go out and drink, do you have a plan that will allow you to drink more safely?
- Do you know what the consequences are for alcohol violations at Skidmore?
- If you bring a friend home from a party, and they are really drunk, what will you do?
- Always feel free to call us if you are in trouble or don't know how to handle a situation. Is there anything we can do take make you feel more comfortable doing this?