By: Karen Contardo, Director and Jill Royston, Program Coordinator
Student Wellness Resource Center
Many of you will read the title of this article and say “check” – done that! And kudos to you! It can rank right up there with “the birds and the bees” conversation as one that you’re not necessarily sure how to approach. For others, it can be daunting and gets tied in with other conversations of “just don’t do it” or “just be responsible and safe” or, “you’re smart – you’ll figure it out”! Whatever your approach; research shows that by having a conversation with your son or daughter, you can help them navigate the first few weeks of their new college experience, which are the most critical during this transition time.
As your son or daughter heads off to college, they are excited about the opportunity to create fun memories, meet new friends and develop a new way of life apart from you. During this time of transition, there is an abundance of free time and the potential for choices, including whether or not to drink alcohol, which may interfere with their success at Gonzaga. Underage drinking happens on nearly every college campus, and Gonzaga is no exception. Drinking may look exciting and fun as they arrive on campus and find their way in this new social setting. If you haven’t yet had a conversation with your student about life on campus, this is a great opener. Ask your son or daughter their thoughts about this new social environment, what they’re looking forward to and maybe the parts they might be nervous about. Parents often wonder about their role in the decision of whether or not their student chooses to drink alcohol, especially as they move out on their own. This is one way you can help your son or daughter make healthier choices. Many students perceive drinking as a social experience and a normal part of campus life and that “it’s ok as long as I keep my grades up, and my parents are ok with it.” The research suggests that if students know what their parent’s believe, then they will make healthier choices or choose not to drink at all.
Each student makes a choice and evaluates the risks and benefits associated with drinking. Students have mixed feelings about drinking, the good experiences and the not-so-good ones; yet they typically do not consider the not-so-good ones. Students want to make their own choice to drink or not and you can help them by asking about their own personal thoughts and opinions. Ask what they think is good or fun about it and what is not as much fun. Talk about what is relevant to your son or daughter and ask if they want to hear your thoughts. Explain what you would expect of your son or daughter. There are some great resources at the following site that can help you start this conversation or continue it forth, prior to their arrival at Gonzaga. Check out http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov.
Gonzaga University has great resources available to help your student navigate these critical first weeks. Send them to the Student Wellness Resource Center and we’ll gladly talk with them! The most important part is being willing to have that conversation with your son or daughter prior to arriving at Gonzaga. You have been and will continue to be an influential part of their life. We are grateful for your partnership in this next chapter of their story! In the meantime, enjoy these amazing summer days and feel free to check out our website or contact us with any questions (www.gonzaga.edu/studentwellness).