College Drinking

A question from one of our readers…

Dear Jeff and Debra,

Our son has been having problems at college related to alcohol and pot. He used to be a good student, but his grades have plummeted. We know from reliable sources that he’s “partying” every day. We don’t want to interrupt his academic career (he’s a junior now), but college is expensive and we don’t know what to do.

Paralyzed Parents


Dear Paralyzed,

If you treat college like an entitlement program, you’re asking for trouble. Your son is fortunate to have parents who can pay for a good education, but that privilege brings responsibility.


As long as he’s living on the bank of mom and dad, there should be clear expectations for his behavior and performance.  He’ll face even greater expectations when he enters the workforce.


We don’t know if your son is addicted, but we do know it’s time for a serious talk, and probably a professional assessment. Don’t make the mistake of sending him to a counselor for a solo session. A thorough assessment will involve several family members and others with first-hand information. If he has developed a addiciton problem, it’s unlikely that he’ll be forthcoming about it, because denial is usually a hallmark of addiction.


If he doesn’t need addiction treatment, but needs to change his behavior, here are some tips for discussion. 1) Let him know that you’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours in his education, but 2) it doesn’t look like he’s making the same level of commitment. 3) Tell him it’s OK to drop out of college and get a job if he’d rather party, but that 4) he can’t live at your home.


It won’t hurt him to get a taste of the real world, and reconsider the value of a college education. Early in adult life, most of us learn things the hard way. One last point: illegal activities are illegal. If you give any ground on that issue, you’re asking for trouble.


This post first appeared in the Grosse Pointe News




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