Our College Teen Is Home For The Holidays – Ask Dr. JPL

Our College Teen Is Home For The Holidays – Ask Dr. JPL



Dear Dr. JPL: Our teenage son, a college student, is coming home for the holidays. We think he is drinking at school. We don’t condone this but feel we have little control over his actions while he is at school. We do not however, want him drinking while he is at home. How should we handle the situation?


In reality you are dealing with two difficult dilemmas. To begin with, you are concerned that you underage son is drinking in college against your wishes. While it is true that you are not there to monitor his actions, you do have more influence over the situation than you realize. Since you don’t agree with this behavior you need to be clear with your teen about both your concerns and subsequent consequences if he chooses to drink.

You might want to say something like this: “You know we do not condone underage drinking. Since we cannot monitor all your actions while you are away at college, it is important that you understand that if we find out that you have been drinking there will be consequences.” Encourage him to help you come up with the potential consequences. He is more likely to abide by your wishes if he feels part of the process.

The second dilemma you need to manage is his behavior now that he is back at home. Once again it is important to discuss your expectations including household rules and consequences. Teens report that peer pressure is a top reason for drinking. By making it clear to your teen that this is not acceptable behavior, you make it easier for him to say no to his friends.

ASK DR. JPL: Have a question about your own teen and alcohol? Ask our resident tween, teen and parenting expert, Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder Psy.D, to help you have The Alcohol Talk with your child. Submit your questions on the Ask Dr. JPL page of this blog. Dr. JPL may answer your question on the blog to help other parents address similar issues with their children.

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Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder is one of the tween, teen and parenting experts that participated in the focus groups that helped form the new educational campaign and website, TheAlcoholTalk.com. Her expertise and vast experience were also tapped for much of the advice and guidance included on the site. Her unique understanding of the communication techniques necessary for The Alcohol Talk to effectively take place make her an ideal spokesperson for the campaign. Dr. Powell-Lunder is a clinical psychologist specializing in work with tweens, teens, young adults, and their families. She is co-author of the book Teenage as a Second Language (Adams Media 2010) and the creator of www.itsatweenslife.com, an interactive and informational website for parents and tweens, and co-creator of www.Talkingteenage.com, an interactive informational website for the parents of teenagers. Jennifer is a regular contributor for outlets including Psychology Today, Parenting Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, GalTime, KnowMoreTV, Examiner, and North Texas Kids. She has also been featured in The Huffington Post, Yahoo, AOL’s ParentDish, Mamapedia and many other blogs and websites. As a parenting expert on both radio and television programs including NPR’s Talk of the Nation, NBC’s TODAY in New York, Better TV and WCBS, FOX and ABC affiliates, Jennifer talks about tween, teen and parenting issues. She was profiled in Westchester Magazine’s January 2012 feature on ‘People to Watch Jennifer is a published researcher, in-demand speaker and consultant on tween, teen, and young adult issues. She spent almost a decade as a Program Director of an inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit at a private psychiatric hospital in the Northeast where she now serves as Senior Clinical Liaison. She is also an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University. Jennifer sits on the Board of Directors for Family Ties, a non-profit family advocacy agency serving Westchester County, NY and maintains a private outpatient practice in Bedford Hills, NY.

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