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Ralph Blackman: Parents, let's teach while we can

I suppose I always knew this time would come, but now that we’re taking our daughter to college this week the soul searching has moved into high gear. Have we talked about all the important topics?

I mean the process has been exhausting. The applications, the visits, the overnights, the weekend testing, and each piece of mail all serve as conversation starters to bring up the important issues. First, there’s studying, classes and good grades. Then there’s the dorm and a new roommate and new friends. There’s time management and being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there. There’s a whole new social life, and we know that means boys and, though it doesn’t have to, likely means alcohol.

And then what’s most worrisome for most parents… we’re not going to be waiting up for her when she comes in. We always told our kids we’d pick them up no matter what. But now she’s too far away.  We can’t be there to rescue our baby. There are so many things to cover and so little time left.

But, instead of going through everything one more time, we’re trying to take a deep breath.  We’ve taught our daughter to make good decisions. I know it sounds a little cliché, but it’s true. In relationships, in school, in sports, in life really. We know she’s heard us and for the most part, she’s done pretty well at it. I didn’t say we’d stop caring or stop worrying, we just have to accept (and hope) that all of the conversations over all of the years will help guide her through the new challenges she’s going to face. 

Ultimately, the daily, weekly, or monthly conversations we have with our kids about underage drinking will be the main influence on their decision to drink. It’s their choice, and it always has been. As parents, all we can do is continue to arm them with the knowledge and reasoning to make the right decisions.

We think we’ve done it right. But only time will tell. 

How did you talk to your college-bound daughter or son about drinking?