What I Wish I Knew Before I Left For College
Going away to college is HUGE. It’s rated one of the top life-changing challenges that we go
through, right up there with divorce, and the death of a spouse.
It is THE most challenging transition for college-bound kids, since they usually have not
married or divorced yet.
And what do we focus on when preparing them? Academics.
That seems obvious, right? It’s a competitive world and they need to learn how to study, and
write papers on a whole new level.
And yet, there are some things even MORE important than grades, tests, and study habits. Like safety. And responsibility. And accountability.
I don’t remember knowing what those words really meant before I went off to my freshman year.
Your 17- or 18-year-old is dying to get away from you and have “freedom”. They may not listen to you anymore. You may have turned into the Charlie Brown teacher to them years ago: blah blah…blah blah blah blah blah…
So how the heck are you going to get them to listen to YOU when you try to talk to them about the tough topics like sex in “college,” drinking responsibly, the dangers of legal and illegal drugs, and sexual predators?
How will you know you are getting through to them? You don’t know and you can’t. They do not want to talk to you about this stuff and deep down, you don’t really want to talk to them about this stuff, either.
Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
Let’s face it—with all due respect, most of us are uncomfortable talking about sex with anyone.
Sex is a highly explosive topic, no matter your religious beliefs or cultural back ground. As a
parent, it’s awkward to talk about sex because no one really taught us how to talk about it with
our kids. We all may still be traumatized by the way our parents did or didn’t talk to us about
And where do we go to talk openly and safely about “good” sex. You know the kind when two
people who love each other and are in a committed, monogamous relationship, (usually
marriage)? Where is there an open and safe conversation?
Yeah, uh, nowhere, really.
We’ve established that as parents, we may not be comfortable or trained to talk about sex with
our own children. We also see how maybe there’s not really a place here in our culture where
it’s safe and comfortable to talk and discuss about “good” sex between two people in a defined,
So now we bring in the media, the 24/7 information coming at us on our phones, our laptops,
our tablets, billboards, magazines, streaming this, downloading that, airplane tray boards with
ads. No matter how we ingest our entertainment and news, we cannot seem to escape the
And what do we use to sell things?
We use sex to sell beer, cars, sports, fashion, bbq sandwiches, socks, travel, shoes, insurance.
It is a mixed message that is rarely talked about, yet it drives our culture. Sex is one of the most powerful, primal human drives, yet we can barely talk about it. And advertisers use it to “play” us (hit our pain points) in unconscious and conscious ways.
Ok, so that is the fish bowl of culture we’re swimming in that we can’t even see because we
were born into this: these layers of conversations and cultural norms and contradictions.
Now you add 18-year-old kids, unprecedented freedom, on top of unprecedented social media
pressure to look like you have the coolest, most fun party life, on top of alcohol—the most
lobbied and advertised DRUG in the world—with sexual predators on the side.
Welcome to college.
Have you had THIS conversation with your college-bound teen?