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Pre-parenthood, you probably had to deal with bad influences of your own. In university or college, teenagers may drink, smoke and encounter the same experiences as you. Do you remember having your first drink at a party? As a university student, I have seen first-hand how many students vow to never drink again after a night out.
We students make mistakes and learn from them, just like you have. Learning from our experiences is a part of life. This allows us to become more responsible and mature and prepares us for future decisions. So relax mom and dad, your children are not the stereotypical teenagers you see on television, but are real people that have their own values, responsibilities and goals.
Here are 5 things your kids want you to relax about.
1. â€¨"Stop getting mad because I got a B-. You're stressing me out!"
Unlike the ones you’ve grown used to seeing throughout your child’s time at high school, university marks can be quite different. If your child is living away from home, they will not have anyone addressing their time management skills, and will have to manage their time on their own.
Many first-year students find themselves with lower-than-expected grades because they have not adjusted to university life. The work effort that resulted in an A grade in high school can become a B (or even lower) in university. After first year, students usually adjust to their independent environment, but this doesn't mean they will receive a better marks.
Though they may have given all their effort, the professor may not have liked their work and with many courses, the grade you receive may not always reflect the amount of effort and time spent on an assignment. Fine art paintings and English opinion pieces are great examples of how marks alone cannot truly judge a piece of work. When your child has put forth their best effort, it is an achievement to them whether or not they received a high mark.
2. â€¨"Don't worry mom, we're not smoking pot everyday."
In 2007, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health Ontario reported a major decrease in drug use among teens since 1999. Adolescent marijuana use has dropped from 32 per cent to 29 per cent, hallucinogens from 13 to six per cent, and surprisingly, smoking cigarettes has decreased from 28 to 12 per cent.
Students who come across marijuana and other drugs during their first year may experiment with them once or twice, but not all always. I have seen some first-year students declining the offer of a joint during frosh week. If a student does not want to be involved in a certain activity, they generally have no problem declining it. Curiosity is a way to experience life lessons. Despite a student's experimentation with drugs, they still have priorities to look after and goals to accomplish.
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3. "Yes dad, I’m mature enough to date.”
A study by Statistics Canada shows that adolescents are practicing safe sex, and schools are doing their part by distributing university and college orientation kits containing condoms. In recent years students have become more open to discussing sex and aren't afraid to talk about it with their schoolmates. Numerous schools such as the University of Waterloo, hold information sessions for teens to talk about their own sexual experiences and learn about sex education. Sex counseling, free vaccinations and condoms, pap tests, and access to birth control are offered at most universities and colleges.
â€¨â€¨4. "I'll admit, I have a couple of party friends but that's not the only friends I have made at school."
Friends that are bad influences along with peer pressure are issues the majority of parents worry about. There are numerous, diverse students that attend university or college and everyone is different. Some students enjoy going out while others like to stay home. Students who enjoy partying or smoking up do not force others to do what they like. Your child may be offered an invitation to a party or a cigarette, but they may also be asked to join school sports, go on study dates, and volunteer for on-campus societies. There are so many students on campus that it is highly unlikely that your child may only be influenced by one type of person. In the end, it is your child’s choice whether or not they choose to party or study.
â€¨5. "Drinking and driving is not cool."
A recent article from Transport Canada states that the amount of teenagers involved in drinking and driving accidents have decreased over the past couple years. In my experience, students are more aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and take safety precautions to avoid themselves and their friends from getting into accidents. In one experience, I went to a party and a friend who was driving asked me to hold onto her car keys since she was planning to drink. Young drivers often feel the responsibility to not drink at a party, especially when they are driving others.
University students are at the age where they are responsible for their own choices. Every student has their limits, and if they do not enjoy drinking or being sexually active then they will avoid it. As a parent it is acceptable to intervene only to a certain extent, but ultimately it is your child in the driver’s seat, and whatever the outcomes, they are accountable for their actions.
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