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If you are like most parents of young adults, you may wonder how much your student listens to your opinions and if they’re guided by your influence as they grow into adults.

Research states students engage less in heavy drinking when parents are less lenient about teen alcohol use. Additionally, parents who communicate in depth and regularly with their students about alcohol use have been shown to positively influence and reduce their students’ use.

UT’s Center for Health Education and Wellness has developed two conversation guides, “How to Discuss Alcohol with your Student” and “Discussing Consent with your Student” to help parents engage in thoughtful conversations about these two critical topics. Both of the guides are short, digestible, and include specific helpful conversation starters and links to on-campus resources.

A few key points to remember when discussing alcohol with your student:

  • Create a plan. Incorporate a summary of relevant facts about alcohol, your family’s history of alcohol use, and the expectations you have for your student while they are away at college.
  • Ask yourself questions before talking with your student. Do you want your student to abstain from drinking? If your student has an unintended consequence from alcohol, how will you respond? If your student is somewhere and feels concerned for themselves or for others, whom should they contact?
  • Get the conversation started. Keep pointers in mind including asking your student about their views on alcohol and college life, listening to your student, giving constructive feedback, being wary of using scare tactics, help plan ways for your student to handle peer pressure, and being prepared to discuss your own drinking history.
  • Continue to talk. After the initial conversation, continue to talk with your student about alcohol. It is common for conversations to happen at more than one sitting and for the depth of conversation to evolve over time. Once your student leaves for school, you can still be available to talk, listen, and provide support.

A few key points to remember when discussing sexual consent with your student:

  • Plan the conversation. Think about when and where you want the conversation to take place. Wherever you choose, make sure it’s a place where you both can be comfortable having one-on-one conversations.
  • Get the conversation started. Keep pointers in mind including asking your student about their views on consent, listening to your student, giving constructive feedback, refraining from blanket statements, being wary of using scare tactics, and collaborating with your student about ways they can articulate their boundaries.
  • Help plan ways your student can ask for consent. The consent conversation is not solely focused on empowering your student to say what they do or don’t want; it must also empower them to know how to approach asking for consent.
  • Keep the conversation going. You may want to have multiple discussions. Keeping the communication lines open can let your student know you are there to discuss their safety.