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Communication

3 Keys

Watch these videos to find out some students' choices related to alcohol and possible parental impact.

Communication

Research suggests that student socializing patterns are often established in the first six weeks of their first year on campus. Factors that can influence high-risk behaviors within a social setting include group drinking norms.

Relationships

The effectiveness of your communication about alcohol is reflective of the relationship you have with your sons and daughters. Is there a pattern of open communication in your relationship? Have you discussed difficult issues with them (i.e. sex, drugs, friends, and especially alcohol use)?

Drinking

Accurate information about the current drinking scene at NMC is vital to help parents' credibility when talking to their sons and daughters about alcohol. If students know their parents are informed, they're more likely to take what parents say seriously and talk about what they think of drinking. Research has shown us that as parents understand the characteristics of the drinking scene young adults will be exposed to and talk with them about healthy ways to safely navigate that scene, they can have a profound influence on their sons and daughters' decisions. If conversations do not go well, then the relationship may need to be strengthened and different communication skills attempted.

The First Year College Alcohol Profile tailors information to the situations students will experience. You as the parent know your sons and daughters better than anyone else. You can take our strategies and adapt them specifically for your sons and daughters, making the teaching more personal than we ever could as they enter the university.

Conversation

There's a great deal of misinformation about alcohol, social drinking, and alcohol abuse. It can be a powerful thing for parents to talk with their sons and daughters about the potential risks associated with alcohol use. As you talk to young adults about alcohol, you'll be able to give them accurate information about drinking at NMC as well as share your beliefs and hopes for them.

As you go through this section, imagine how the conversation might look if it was between you and your sons and daughters.

Why talk to your sons and daughters?

College students believe many myths about drinking. These myths can create dangerous beliefs which in turn can lead to dangerous situations. For example, most college students believe that drinking coffee will help to sober you up, making you less drunk. This is not true and can lead to situations where your sons and daughters take dangerous risks (such as drinking more or driving drunk) because they have just had a cup of coffee. College students often begin drinking socially and think they can handle it on a regular basis while at the same time keeping things in perspective. There are long and short-term consequences of such experimentation.

It only takes a single episode of intoxication to experience life-changing consequences like rape, accidents, and arrest. We are not so naïve that we think parents talking with their college students about alcohol use will put an end to alcohol consumption. However, you should do everything in your power to discourage underage drinking, or at least, to encourage responsible behavior that does not put your sons and daughters at risk of serious negative consequences.

Talk About?

Family Values About Drinking

When drinking is and isn't appropriate:

  • Is alcohol involved in family get-togethers? If so, how is safe drinking modeled by adults?
  • What messages about drinking did you send to your sons and daughters as they were growing up?
  • What are the family beliefs about drinking socially?
  • What are some family values that may be affected if unhealthy drinking occurs? Some families have concerns that drinking may lead to problems related to sexual activity, physical health, productivity in school, and careers.

Underage & High-Risk Drinking Dangers

The first section of this site explained some of the risks that your sons and daughters will be exposed to at Nebraska Methodist College. We encourage you to use that information to talk knowledgeably to them about how that info relates to where they'll be living.

How to Stay Safe if Drinking

  • Students who choose to drink can take steps to stay safe.
  • The Specific Strategies page presents strategies for dealing with different situations in greater depth.

Why People Choose to Drink

  • Peer Pressure
  • Escape from the stresses of college life.
  • Misperception that everyone is drinking, or it's just part of college life.

One of the most important ways for your sons and daughters to stay safe is to develop assertiveness.

Whether it's related to being assertive and standing firm in their plans for how to deal with being offered alcohol or in how much they'll drink, assertiveness will help minimize the risks they'll have.

College students often drink not because they have been pressured by their friends into drinking, but rather because they think everyone is doing it and that it's an appropriate thing to do. Talk to your sons and daughters about how assertive they are now with their peers and how they can strengthen that assertiveness.

Specific Strategies

Prior to your sons and daughters' first year at NMC, they'll be asked to complete an online teaching exercise called the College Alcohol Profile (CAP).

This will provide them with some feedback about the choices, risks, and consequences of drinking. It will also help to correct misperceptions about the drinking norm itself at NMC. Part of this training will be some specific suggestions about how to avoid high-risk drinking.

We want you to know what they'll be taught here, so you can add to or reinforce those strategies.

Ways to Help Your Friends

  1. Be the designated driver.
  2. Be a role model for your friends.
  3. Know and respond to alcohol poisoning.
  4. Never leave an intoxicated person alone.

Drinking Tips

  1. Know your limits, stick to them, and stay in control.
  2. Determine how many drinks to have and stop at your number.
  3. Eat right before and while drinking.
  4. Learn from past mistakes and make adjustments.
  5. Drink one or two an hour. Shots hit in about 20 minutes.
  6. Check if your medicine interacts badly with alcohol.
  7. Don't drink if you have a strong family history of alcoholism.
  8. Drink for quality, not quantity (a 6-pack of imported or micro beer).
  9. Be aware of your situation. If you feel unsafe, leave.
  10. Watch your drinks while being made and after. Never leave your drink alone, even if you only have a soft drink.

Specific Strategies

Here are some strategies you may use to talk to your sons and daughters about how they can manage situations to keep them safe. It's best to choose a couple of the strategies, based on what you know about your sons and daughters.

Suggest Alternatives

Make sure your sons and daughters have a plan of some activities that could be used in place of drinking.

Use Deception

Students often report holding a drink but not actually drinking it. This deception helps others to leave them alone and not pressure them to drink something.

Turn Pressure Around

This strategy involves questioning the other person about pressure. Effective phrases include:

  • "Why are you trying so hard to make me do something I don't want to do?"
  • "But I told you, no, I'm not going to do that. Don't you listen?" An other way to say this is: "Stop pressuring me. You're going to drive me crazy!"
  • "What kind of friend are you to keep pressuring me? Back off."
Share Responsibility

Have your sons and daughters talk with a friend before the party, and share a plan to stay safe. Ask that friend to help make sure they both stick to the plan.

Leave the Scene

Suggest your sons and daughters have a plan for how to get home if there's no one at the party who has not been drinking or if they're in a situation they feel is unsafe.

Plan Ahead

Most underage drinking occurs at parties, and in most cases, your sons and daughters know that alcohol will be at the party. They need to have a plan for how they're going to deal with the situation so they'll stay safe.

Use Humor

If your sons and daughters typically converse with a lot of humor, advise them to use it to think of things to say that can get them out of a bad situation. Encourage them to make the humorous statement on their own, so it's something they feel confident in.

Summary

It's very important to have open communication with your sons and daughters so they feel like they can talk to you about their difficulties and successes.

However, open communication will not ensure that you get the opportunity to talk to them about alcohol, and only direct conversations will be able to give them the skills they may need.

Your input about risks and strategies coupled with your understanding of their beliefs about alcohol at the university will act as important protective factors as they start their college careers.

3 Keys to Successful Communication About Alcohol

All three keys to successful communication are important for impactful discussions about alcohol. None of them alone can accomplish the goal of helping your sons and daughters navigate the risks associated with drinking at college.Only you know which of these are your strengths and which you need to work on. Your input can truly make a difference, especially if it is founded in NMC-specific information that is effectively communicated and builds upon a healthy relationship.