It’s always good to talk to your children. As a parent myself, I feel that deeply in my heart. We all want to connect with our children and maintain the bonds of love, the channels of open communication, and warm feelings – even when they are far away.
Today you have an extra good reason to talk to your students. Tonight is Pledge Night for the Greek system, and that means there will be parties for the new pledges and generally a lot of social activity on campus. Whether your student is Greek or independent, at some point during the evening, your students will likely have the opportunity to drink. Some will, some won’t. Regrettably, there have been some disturbing incidents with excessive use of alcohol at past Pledge Nights – not solely by Greek students, by the way.
And this is where you come in, parents.
Studies show that if parents call and talk to their college students on Friday afternoon or evening, those students are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior such as excessive alcohol use. My colleagues in the faculty have studied this issue extensively; I believe it was our Psychology department.
Think about that. Pretty amazing.
I have heard our Vice President for Student Life, Ken Zick, talk about this phenomenon. If my memory serves, he told me that the studies show the parent doesn’t have to explicitly talk to his student about alcohol – it’s the simple fact of talking to the student, with its implicit reminder of family connections, responsibilities, and parental expectations for behavior – that affects the student and serves to reduce risky behavior. Of course, many parents will speak more directly, urging their students to be sensible and safe, especially in regards to alcohol.
My party line has always been that parents and students probably should talk once a week anyway. But why not make it Friday afternoon, especially since Friday afternoon talks with parents have this effect of reducing high-risk behavior?
Parents, I’m asking you to try this today. Call your students this afternoon. Talk about whatever you like. Be overt about drinking and expectations if it suits your personal style and family dynamics, or be very general and subtle and simply remind your student how proud you are of him or her, and tell them to be safe in whatever they do.
You have nothing to lose – and everything to gain.
Then repeat it every Friday : )