Dear Dr. G.,
My daughter is going off to college in a few weeks. I am worried that she may make bad decisions and get pressured into relationships and sex too soon. I remember my own freshman year of college and my friends and I made some pretty foolish decisions. It is very hard to change a bad reputation once you get a bad one. What do you suggest that I tell my daughter. Should I even broach this topic with her?
-A Concerned Mom
Dear Concerned Mom,
I am delighted that you brought up this topic. As we all know, there is a lot of drinking on college campuses. That coupled with males and females going to parties together without supervision may indeed lead to sexual encounters -- some positive and some not-so-positive.
I have polled a number of college girls about the advice that they wish that they had gotten prior to their freshmen year at college. I agree with their ideas and I recommend that you share them with your daughter.
1. Spend the first semester getting to know people and making friends rather than hooking up.
2. Spend a lot of time getting to know the opposite sex as friends so that you learn about their character.
3. Watch your alcohol intake. Too much alcohol leads to dis-inhibition, which may lead to sex that you may regret.
4. Say no to sex if you are not interested --- and say it firmly.
5. Remember that it can take years to change a reputation, if you are ever able to change it at all.
Good luck. I wish you and your daughter well. I invite other parents and daughters to weigh in on this issue.
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Barbara R. Greenberg, Ph.D. is currently a professional consultant on teen issues at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT. She also maintains a private practice in Fairfield County, CT. She served as a clinical administrator on an adolescent inpatient unit at a private psychiatric hospital for 21 years before dedicating herself to private outpatient practice and consultation work.