I think the biggest fear all parents have when their kids go off to college is their access to excessive drinking. I know it is my fear.
Both my sister and I have our eldest young adult at college, and the last couple weeks have been very sad for us.
You see, a young man who attended Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo was killed two weeks ago. He was just 21 years old. He was out on a Saturday night and probably had too much to drink. He decided to walk home (alone) from the bar, and was killed while crossing the street — which happened to be Highway 101.
The way I found out, is that my eldest daughter Alex called me to tell me that this young man (Matt) was her best friend’s boyfriend. Sweet guy. Not in trouble. Good student.
Alex and her best friend Audrey flew home this weekend to attend the funeral. I spent a few hours talking with them about their feelings the night before they went to the funeral. I provided a safe and non-judgmental environment for our conversation.
Sunday, I put both girls on airplanes to fly back to college. Their faces were relieved and happier than when they arrived, and they both felt a lot of love and support.
What did I learn through this experience?
- Always keep in touch with your teenagers’ friends. I make it a point to have their cell phone numbers and often text them to stay in touch.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about the dangers of drinking. Both my daughter’s schools have a program for “safe-rides” home. No questions asked. Find out about these programs and share the information with your kids.
- Tell your teens that you know they are going to drink at college, but it is imperative that they NEVER drive when under the influence and NEVER get in the car with someone else who has been drinking.
- Tell your teens to NEVER leave a drunk friend alone. It really is better that they stick together.
Alcohol is a tough subject to deal with because teens feel as if it is a real rite of passage as they go off to college, or turn 21. But, when an alcohol-related death hits so close to home, it really makes you want to be even more annoying as a parent to make sure your kids know that their safety is most important.