Do Restrictive Parents Make Crazy Freshmen?

Restricted AreaI’m not the first one to notice this behavior, but why is it parents that didn’t let their kids partake in a few drinks before college (yes, underage) end up with kids that just “can’t handle college.” I overheard a college student talking at a party this weekend mentioning the same thing; kids that never were able to touch alcohol prior to college go out of their way to get so wrecked they can’t stand… at every possible occasion.

In college, alcohol is something you can usually get easily because many friends have reached the legal age and liquor flows more freely. As a freshman I was able to get beer by just asking an acquaintance or friend of a friend. As a matter of fact, I fixed a 21 year old’s computer and my reward was a “beer run” for all I could fit in his trunk.

Yet, I was able to have a few drinks at 18 (sssh) and I learned that beer is just another beverage that can be handled responsibly. While under the supervision of my parents my cousin Doug and I were often able to have a few beers and sneak a few more later in the night. My family knew we weren’t going anywhere so we never had an issue with a few drinks. We didn’t get completely hammered because we knew it would be a bit obvious but we did get a good buzz on in more than one instance.

Later, once I graduated high-school and went to college, I was given a few beers (at my own cost) and it really wasn’t a big deal. While students that had strict parents whom never let them near the stuff went wild, partaking in alcohol like tomorrow was the end of the world. Many of these students never made it through the first semester of college because of over-partying and not going to class the next day “because of a hang-over.”

I think this boils down to educating your child and teaching them how to respect something. You’ll probably see this in sex education as well, kids who have parents that pretend sex doesn’t exist tend to have children that don’t “remember” to use protection and have safe sex because their parents don’t teach them anything about it. The same, in my opinion, can be said about drinking–except we have an issue with legality, while sex is legal at 17, drinking is not. So, a parent that wishes to teach their kids control of an alcoholic substance and show them the effects of “having too much” isn’t allowed to, by law. I think that it can be a huge mistake, not giving an exception to supervised drinking at family events (not sure how you’d write that into law however).

Instead, we’ll have students go off to college for their first time away from home and make stupid decisions and potentially get hurt for not knowing their limit when it comes to a few beers. A freshman doesn’t have the same tolerance to liquor as an experienced junior or senior yet they may all be mixed together at a party. That same student may have understood the nature of drinking had they had a chance at home when the parents were there to make sure they didn’t do anything stupid.

I often wonder how many students would survive unsupervised college life if they were given the opportunity to partake in alcoholic beverages before they became unsupervised and inexperienced with the substance. There will always be students that just won’t make the college life work for them but I believe there are a few that would have done much better had they been more prepared for the trials of being independent.


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