Preparing Your Teen For College – Ask Dr. JPL

Preparing Your Teen For College – Ask Dr. JPL



Dear Dr. JPL,

My teen is going off to college and I am aware that underage drinking will take place. How do I explain to her that while I don’t condone underage drinking, that I would like for her to be safe?


Preparing your teen for her college experience can be a great way to bond. Consistent conversation about the road ahead is important. Discussions about safety are, of course, paramount. It is important to communicate clearly your expectations. Be honest and open about your concerns. It is also helpful to discuss the college’s policy on underage drinking. Many teens don’t realize that most schools have a zero tolerance policy. This means that any underage individual caught drinking can be immediately expelled from the school.

One thing I always recommend to collegians is that they set up a safety support system with each other. Just as I coach parents to set up a code word with their teens, I also suggest that collegians set up a code word with their friends. Specifically I suggest that coeds establish a code word they can text to a friend that means that they need help. I also recommend that collegians install GPS apps such as Apple’s Find My Friends or apps like Life360. This allows friends to keep tabs on each other. If a friend gets separated at a party or an event, she can easily be located. Such a system can help encourage safety and hopefully avoid some of the tragedies that have recently occurred on college campuses.
It is important for teens to realize that part of being an independent adult involves making responsible decisions. Collegians who set up a support network of friends agree to take care of each other especially at times when individuals are not able to take care of themselves.

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, 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, an interactive and informational website for parents and tweens, and co-creator of, 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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