General Question

gimmedat's avatar

Our college aged daughter is struggling, what insight might you offer? (Details inside)

Asked by gimmedat (3938points) October 21st, 2012 from iPhone

This is an abbreviated version of events over the last year.

When our freshman daughter came home for summer, she got drunk, fell off a bed, suffered a closed head injury and revealed A LOT about the struggles she’d had in her first year at school. She was given consequences including coming home every weekend from school to avoid lots of sorority functions and work to pay off her medical bills. She’s been doing so since August and has said she understands why she’s made to come home and work weekends. She also made the promise that alcohol was not a problem an that she would be more responsible.

While home this weekend, she asked permission to go to a large fraternity function here in town, not at the school. I would pick her up from the event this morning to ensure that she got to work on-time and met that responsibility. I thought this would be a great opportunity to show us that he could earn back some trust and that she respects our expectations I mean, really, if she knew her mother would pick her up at 7 AM, she surely would be responsible. Well, when I got there this morning, she had obviously been drinking. I was spitting nails mad and assured her that she would see greater consequences than those from the summer episode. I did make her go to work – feeling crappy and all.

My husband and I spoke about the latest episode and are really struggling with why to do from here. One of the things my husband wants to do is go to our daughter’s sorority and talk to the house mom about his concerns about our daughter and alcohol as well as to the fraternity she was with last night to talk to the house mom about of age members providing alcohol to minors. I’m just not sure that’s a good idea. My husband is quite intimidating. I’m not sure that he will maintain his composure and I’m upset that he wants to make this other students’ issue when in fact it’s our daughter who is making the poor choices. Our daughter is distraught with the prospect of her dad going to the houses, and has said that she will have nothing to do with him because of his over-bearing ways. I’m at a loss. I’m stuck between the two of them. I want to back my husband, but I don’t want to totally alienate the girl.

Bottom line…would you be OK with your spouse making his/her presence known to the sorority/fraternity as a way to run interference with a struggling kid? BTW…she does have additional consequences, I just haven’t detailed them here.

Sorry for the length of the post and I appreciate the insight.

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102 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You have to let your children grow up and make their own choices. You sound like you or your hubby might do better by backing off a little. She’s in college. She has to learn to make choices. Kids meet your expectations.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe, do you think that getting drunk when she knew for sure her mom would find out might have been her way of trying to get attention? I just wonder if loosening up at this point might be a bad idea. Not that I have any other brilliant ideas mind you, I just wonder.

gimmedat's avatar

That’s the thing, though. We were totally hands-off her entire freshman year and then we find out that she was in a terrible place but refused to adknowledge it at the time. I would back off, but she was obviously drinking when I picked her up, so it seems like he needs the exact opposite of us backing off. She knew I’d be there at 7AM and she knew I’d know she’d been drinking. I just can’t sit and watch her self destruct and I refuse to accept that she’s making choices that are really great for herself. I know she has to develop the tools to deal with life’s circumstances, with college, with alcohol, and priorities, but at what cost? We’ve already gotten the phone call from the hospital – to which she swore was a wake up call – and now this. I honestly want more control – to make her come home and go to a community college and perhaps undergo some treatment, but I am acting under the assumption that she’s finding her way and that she will learn with our influence, with time, and with maturity.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gimmedat Let me back off on my original thought. There are other things going on here. I’d be careful on trying for “more control”. I’m thinking more support. Let’s see what other thoughts come out.

Coloma's avatar

The poor girl is under a LOT of pressure. Hardly anyone knows what they want to do with their life as a freshman in college. Is she in school because she WANTS to be there or because you guys have forced her into a mold that might not fit?
Most college kids drink and party some, and while I am not an advocate of extreme stupidity, it seems to me that she is struggling to cope with all the stressors and the usual party scene of college.

I think it’s time to let your daughter TELL YOU how she really feels and what is going on in her life.
I do not agree with your husband going to the sorority house.
I think there are some real control issues going on here and you need to face the fact that you no longer have control of your daughter.
Do you love her for herself or for the image you have created for her to bolster up YOUR expectations?

My daughter is 24 and I have not attempted to control her since she was 17.
I had my concerns at times, of course, but I TRUSTED I had done all I could as a parent.
She has turned out to be my BEST friend!
Mama, yes you CAN let her go to make her own choices!

I vote for backing off and letting her be!

Have you ever even ASKED your daughter what SHE really wants?
I think it’s time and I hope you are able to listen and not project YOUR ideals onto her.

She’s her own person and your job is done!

El_Cadejo's avatar

How strict were with her growing up in regards to drinking and such. IMO the kids who never got to experience any of this growing up due to strict parents were the ones who went wild once they reached college.

From what you said above, it honestly doesnt sound all that bad to me, but there is obviously more to the story I’m sure. Thing is, she’s in college and if you expect her not to drink and have some wild nights, well your crazy really. Its going to happen and you need to just accept that. The more you pressure her and such the more she’s just going to revolt and do wild things.

bkcunningham's avatar

How old is she?

JLeslie's avatar

Either she is an alcoholic or really having trouble with this next step towards adulthood.

I cannot imagine having to check in with my parents after I graduated high school. I was still living at home more or less, sometimes staying with my boyfriend once I graduated. I was going to community college and working my freshamen and the beginning of my sophomore year. My parents always knew where I was out of respect for them, I wouldn’t want them to wonder or worry, and this is before cell phones, but I had no curfews or demans about being home. Especially once I transferred to a university. Well, I went out of state, but I just can’t imagine any of my friends at school having to report home on weekends.

Most of my friends drank, I didn’t, but it is a typical part of the college experience. Do you expect her not to drink at all. Or, you just worry she is drinking to a point that is dangerous?

Did you talk to her about what is going on? Is she able to talk to you? Or, are you just furious with her for drinking, and she is afraid to tell you the real deal about how much she drinks and any difficulties she is having.

I think you need to try to stop being angry, and listen to her. Stop with punishments, she is too old. Is she very lonely at school maybe? Struggling with her grades? Does she want to drink? Or, is she giving in to peer pressure? If she is going along with peer pressure yiu can talk to her about that. But, if she wants to have a drink or two, I would focus on safe drinking, and just make sure she is not drinking daily nor to excess, and never drinking and driving.

augustlan's avatar

My initial reaction is that she’s too old for you to be disciplining her in any way. I can’t really imagine ‘grounding’ my college freshman daughter for bad behavior, but maybe I’d change my mind if it came up, you know? Honestly, she is at an age where I would expect the natural consequences to mean more to her than anything I could impose upon her. Bad grades, puking, hangovers, parents being pissed off, possibly flunking out of school… stuff like that. I definitely would not want my kids’ father to insert himself into the situation at the school. That is going too far, in my opinion. She is an adult, and does not need daddy rushing in to save her, especially in such a ‘public’ way. Word will get around, and she will suffer for it. More suffering could even lead to more self-medication, which is certainly not the outcome you’re hoping for.

Are you paying for her schooling? If so, and her grades are suffering, you certainly would be within your rights to say that you won’t pay if she’s not going to take it seriously. Or, as you said, having her transfer to a community college where you won’t be throwing more money away.

I agree with @Adirondackwannabe that control probably isn’t the best solution, but a big talk and lots of support could be. One thing you should probably realize… she is going to drink. Nearly every college kid does. The important thing is that she do so responsibly. That’s what you should focus on, in my opinion.

marinelife's avatar

I think that your daughter could have died from the fall and closed-head injury.

Would you want someone else’s daughter to die because of the easy availability of alcohol to underage students?

I not only think you and your husband should talk with the sorority and fraternity, I think the university bears some blame here, and you should definitely talk to someone there as well.

Yes, your daughter is making poor choices, but it is the ready availability of alcohol and the fact that its use is condoned and supported that enables her.

bkcunningham's avatar

This is a very serious and stressful situation. Here are some resources. I think you should take this very seriously and get some education for yourself and, if he is willing, your husband. You entire family needs some assistance in dealing with this pivotal time in your lives. It is very serious.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gimmedat How mature and responsible, other than the alcohol is your daughter?

JLeslie's avatar

Just to add, I personally would not hold the house mother nor the school responsible, and probably would not talk to the house mother. If I did talk to her it would only be if I was very worried my daughter was endangering herself, meaning she was out of control dangerously drunk consistently, but I think it is ridiculous for people to expect no drinking on campus. If she was out on her own as an adult there would be no supervision like a house mother. She is an adult now.

gimmedat's avatar

My daughter now has consequences because she made really poor choices that resulted in her suffering a head injury. It was never my intention to control her – that’s why we sent her to the school she wanted to go to and supported her joining the sorority she wanted to join. We had no plans of controlling her, but she’s obviously struggling with controlling herself.
I understand that alcohol is ever present on college campuses and within the Greek system, but that doesn’t mean that I have to be OK with my under-aged daughter partying to the point that she’s hurt herself and has no respect for the opportunities we’ve provided for her. We were strict while she was growing up because we know her and we knew the boundaries that needed to be drawn for her. I would love to trust that she will make the right choices, but she’s not. It’s sounds great to back-off, but I would not be able to live with myself should she suffer a debilitating injury, ended up dead from alcohol poisoning, raped or hurt by stupid college boys who’ve let alcohol saturate their lives knowing that I’ve not exhausted every opportunity to help her. If I wanted total control, she’d be home tonight going to community college. She is where she wants to be with the natural consequence of paying off the medical bills she incurred. I’m all about natural consequences, but it seems like it’s not sufficient in helping her realize that her actions have serious repercussions. I never expected her not to drink, I’m not stupid. I did, however, expect that when she was critically injured that she understand she might have issues surrounding alcohol and address them appropriately – the way she swore she would. It’s not happening, so now I back off? I refuse to accept that as a viable option. She’s not doing well with this part of her life. Her grades are good, she surrounds herself with decent people, she is mostly responsible, but she’s struggling to deal with something.

wundayatta's avatar

This is a pretty complicated situation. I’m sure there’s a lot of family history that we don’t know about that is related. I can’t tell for sure, but it does sound like you are pretty controlling parents, and that you have put an awful lot of pressure on your daughter over the years.

If so, you may have place a burden on her that she doesn’t feel like she can handle, and perhaps she has turned to alcohol to make her forget the pain of disappointing her parents. Do you ever tell her she is doing well? In particular, does your husband tell her anything positive, ever?

And how did you discuss alcohol before she went to college? My daughter is a junior in high school, and I don’t know what will happen in college, but I do know we have discussed alcohol and sororities at length. She is not actually interested in going to a school with Greeks because she does not like the influence they have on the culture of a college.

And that’s where I like the idea of your husband going to the Greeks and giving them a piece of his mind. Greek culture is about drinking, no matter how much they say it isn’t so. It’s about drinking and partying and sex—far more so than any other type of group on campus. There are, I’m sure, Greeks that are good role models, but I bet more than half of them are not.

So they should know that some parents are very upset with with is happening and the drinking by underaged women. Particularly your daughter. That your daughter might be mortified… well, shame is not a good way to teach kids, but if you explain that’s not why you are talking to the house mothers, perhaps you can help her understand this is about health and safety.

But your daughter is drinking because she has pain of some kind. Most likely it is pain about her own self image. She might feel confident and attractive while drunk and maybe doesn’t feel that way normally.

My suggestion is that she get into therapy, and perhaps you all get into family therapy. Whatever is going on in your daughter’s mind has roots in your family life. You have a kind of defensive way of setting expectations which suggests to me that you don’t really trust her. Of course, you’ll feel justified in that, now, but that will be misleading.

There are ways of being strong and strict without being mean and draconian. It’s just a matter of discussion and respect. Most people seem to think kids should respect parents and then parents can respect kids, but I think it’s the other way around, and it starts at a very young age. We have to show that what respect is and what it feels like. They are just kids at that age. They don’t know anything. We teach them what respect is by respecting them. Then they can learn how to respect us.

If you haven’t done that, then she doesn’t respect your wisdom, and finds her own way of doing things. The end of that road is kicking her out on her own. That’s what happened to me and it did a lot of damage, and that was just because I couldn’t find a job in a recession.

Take a kinder road, and see what is going on with her. Maybe a therapist will help. But without open dialog, in which you actually listen to her story without getting angry, you can’t fix things.

augustlan's avatar

I think what we need to know is this: How often and how much is she actually drinking? That will be a better indicator of whether or not she’s in control of herself.

I completely understand where you’re coming from about being afraid of another injury (or worse), but if she is just drinking socially and not getting super drunk, I think you do need to back off. If she’s frequently puking or ever passing out, that’s another story. If that’s the case, she probably could benefit from professional help.

JLeslie's avatar

@gimmedat I have to assume hurting herself very badly made some sort of impact on her. Does she feel like she learned a lesson about risk and consequences? Did she say she does not want to drink again, but can’t seem to control herself? Or, does she want to be able to moderately drink? Was she excessively drunk when you picked her up?

You said you were strict with her growing up, maybe she has no clue how to be responsible on her own. A lot of children raised under strict rules go to an extreme once they are free of that rule. Of course I have no idea exactly how strict you were, I am not assuming.

You said she was under age, is she under 18?

glacial's avatar

In my opinion, it was unreasonable to expect her to attend the party and not drink at all. At her age, particularly if she is still unused to alcohol, it can be very easy to start with one drink and not be quite sure which should be the last. This does not mean she is an alcoholic or on the way to becoming one. She just needs to learn how to drink responsibly.

I think you should be firm in your advice, but frankly, as @augustlan said, if she’s going to college it’s kind of amazing that she has been respecting your efforts to control her comings and goings. For your husband to try to coerce others into similarly controlling her is never going to work. You can’t assume any other authority figures share your values – and in a way, your daughter is going to college to learn exactly that (by which I mean: this is a good thing). At worst, those people will laugh at your husband in front of your daughter, and you might lose some of the respect she has for both of you now.

I think the best thing you can do is keep the lines of communication open – tell her how you feel about her choices, and what you think the consequences might be, and why. Ask her what she thinks about all of it. Does she think there is even a problem? Or is she horribly upset about something? We can’t guess any of that – that information has to come from her.

Buttonstc's avatar

Seriously do some research on Rehab facilities.

There is a troubling fascination with alcohol here that is out of proportion. The other thing that a good inpatient program will do is to educate her thoroughly about all aspects of alcohol and addiction and how to lead a satisfying and joyful life without booze or drugs.

If this were my child, this is what I would choose.

Going and trying to deal with the EXTERNAL sources (the sororities, other students, house parents) will not address whatever it is in your daughter that draws her like a magnet to this self destructive behavior.

The typical person who had that close a brush with death due to alcohol indulgence would NOT be rushing right back into overindulgence at the first unsupervised opportunity.

The problem is with your daughter, not with the fact that alcohol is much too easily available. You can waste the rest of your life trying to cut off her sources.

Take the opportunity NOW that she is still underage before it becomes necessary for a court to commit her to a rehab facility or jail years later.

Deal with the ROOT of the problem. WHY is she continuing to drink in spite of overwhelmingly negative consequences. She is most likely not yet technically an alcoholic. But she is well on the way. The alcohol itself is not the problem. Her CONTINUED overindulgence is. Deal with that.

bkcunningham's avatar

@gimmedat, you mentioned picking her up to ensure she got to work on time. Does she work weekends and go to college full-time? Does she have a vehicle?

CWOTUS's avatar

I think that what I might do would be to draft a very strong letter to the Dean of Students of the college, and send copies of the letter to the two houses involved, that is, her sorority and the frat house.

I’m in favor of loosening restrictions at all levels for adults and about-to-be adults, but with that loosening of restrictions comes “responsibility”. Someone at the frat house and at the sorority should have cut her off. That is, the house management has to be responsible when individuals start to lose their own accountability due to drunkenness. This is the problem with alcohol and American teenagers: with no history with the effects of intoxication, they don’t know what their limits are, and if no one around them will step up and say “Enough! No more!”, then these kinds of things happen. (I was not immune to that myself, but it didn’t take a series of repetitions of the lesson to learn that “I can drink this much, and no more.”)

The Dean of Students acts in loco parentis for underage students at the college, and has a strong interest in this issue, control over the fraternity and sorority system, and a potential liability issue from allowing underage drinking at all. Schools typically waive that responsibility in favor of allowing kids to grow up, in the hopes that they will, but some won’t. It’s time for the school to lower the boom on the party houses and get them to clean up their act.

I do not recommend a personal appearance, especially if your husband appears “threatening” or “intimidating”, and certainly not if he is prone to losing his temper. Besides, visiting the houses themselves will not do much good.

ninjacolin's avatar

@gimmedat, I have a friend who recently was ordered not to drink anymore, at all, by her doctor. Why? Because she found out that she has a condition with her liver where alcohol simply isn’t being handled well. We always thought she was just a crazy binge drinker.. but no, it turned out that even a single drink or even half a drink would make her drunk as if she had had 4 or 5 drinks compared to most people.

My point is, there could be something medical going on where your poor daughter is watching people have many drinks and she’s just trying to have a normal amount for herself but her body just can’t do what others can. This is something she would want to get looked at by her doctor. Maybe she’s not really a lush at all. Maybe it’s a medical thing that she needs to know about.

Also, how are her grades? The friend I mentioned above has always been an excellent student despite the drinking issues. Don’t make your daughter feel like a horrible person all around if she’s really ONLY a horrible drinker.

gimmedat's avatar

We were by no means extremely strict with her coming up. She had sleepovers and boys, she was involved in athletics and was very social. If you think of the popular, friendly, outgoing teenager, that was her. We have always spoken very openly and frankly with her – around sex, alcohol, career, goals, love, respect, and opportunity. She was by no means sheltered, but did have boundaries.

Is she dealing with something that has to do with family and her unhappiness with how we are? Absolutely. I have been more than willing to discuss any questions or issues that he has, I have made resources available to her (therapist, supportive extended family members, etc).

When I say that this is where she struggles, this is it. In her normal day to day, she’s a great kid. She’s smart, witty, and strong. She has always been close to us, she has always expressed her admiration for all we’ve accomplished as a family.

Problem is, I have no idea how serious this problem is. I have no idea how often or how much she drinks. I speak to her regularly and she tells me she’s in a good place. Trouble is, she said the same thing last year only to find out that she was miserable.

This morning it was obvious that she was drunk. She was making terrible comments and blaming me for her drinking. At the end of the day I calmly explained to her that she is in control and that I am open to hearing what she has to say about frustrations/anger/unhappiness she’s experiencing surrounding family or that I would be happy to get into counseling with her and her dad should she want that. I’m all about helping her slay demons, but she has to accept that they’re present and that drinking is not the way to deal.

ninjacolin's avatar

it should be pretty easy to find out how much she’s drinking. Just ask her and tell her how much you were able to handle at her age. Compare notes.

bkcunningham's avatar

I saw on another question you posted where she had wrecked a vehicle. Sounds like there may have been problems before this.

Buttonstc's avatar


Whether there is a metabolism problem or not is really beside the point.

She is underage and should not be drinking at all. Period.

The fact that she persists in spite of negative consequences is a clear red flag.

And if she wrecked a vehicle while doing so, this is way past the red flag warning stage.

Something needs to be done. (and I seriously doubt that it revolves around faulty metabolism…..other than the fact that EVERY alcoholic has a failure in alcohol metabolism. George Carlin wisely and succinctly pointed that out).

ninjacolin's avatar

sorry, didn’t realize the underage part.
she’s clearly demonized and you should consult an exorcist.

Don’t do that.

If she’s going to be doing it behind your back (or in front of your face) then you AT LEAST want to make sure you know and she knows whether her body can handle it in a normal way.

gimmedat's avatar

Wrecking her vehicle did not involve alcohol. She does not have her own car, but has liberal use of one of ours. She doesn’t take it to school, but uses it every weekend to her content.

Let me clarify that her dad doesn’t want to go to the houses to threaten or intimidate. He is intimidating, but he wants the house mother of the sorority to know that she is struggling and that we’re trying to help. He wants the frat house mom to know that of age members are supplying alcohol to under-aged sorority members and that if he catches wind of it again, he will notify the police. He’s not expecting others to control her, he’s wanting to make people closer to the issue aware of her situation/the very real scenarios being played out outside of the sororities/frats.

wundayatta's avatar

You have set a precondition for working on her problems with her. She has to acknowledge the “demons” are there and choose to work on them.

I think that’s a great thing, ideally, but I fear you are asking too much. Now you are on the scene and I am not, so I feel like a lot of what I might say is so much garbage because I’m making so many guesses.

What if she won’t or can’t acknowledge that she has demons and needs help? What if she doesn’t see it? What if all the “consequences” in the world don’t force her to see that she is in trouble? Then your policy of making her agree to be responsible won’t work. In fact, it will keep her from getting help.

She is miserable, if what she says is to be believed. But she’s also holding down her responsibilities at college. I don’t like seeing people turn to booze to deal with whatever pain they feel. But sometimes that’s not what people are doing. Booze relaxes them. It’s fun. It’s not necessarily a problem.

When you talk to her, what does she say? What is her story? How does she explain this? And do you believe her when she tells the story?

Buttonstc's avatar


No exorcist necessary.

A thorough competent Rehab program and the education it provides can do wonders.

She’s not demonized. She’s a kid who obviously can’t handle alcohol but also can’t seem to resist it (even when it would be far healthier to do so at least for awhile).

Nothing demonic or mysterious about that in the least.

gimmedat's avatar

She has said that if she didn’t drink last night she would’ve been the only sober person there. She says she does drink because she wants to and maybe that’s just it. She likes it, it makes her feel good, it relaxes her, she feels attractive. Whatever the reason, whether she’s dealing with something or she just likes to drink, she has to gain control. If she refuses, she’s going to be miserable, and ultimately, she will deal with the consequences. Truth is, right now she’s 19 and she’s breaking the law every time she drinks. She’s gotten into trouble with alcohol and still insists on drinking. It’s like we told her tonight – when she’s done with the four years of school that we’re paying for and she’s 21, supporting herself and wants to be out of control, that’s on her. Until then, it’s still our responsibility to ensure that we’ve done what we can to help her.

gimmedat's avatar

Oh, I should probably add that this is actually her third stroke. Last March she got ticketed for minor in possession. We did back off then. She went through her community service hours, the diversion program, and she paid the fine. We told her we were disappointed but that she would have to deal with the natural legal consequences of her actions. Again, our backing off really didn’t have an effect.

gailcalled's avatar

This is such an imbroglio and there is such a complicated history, that I can only suggest that the three of you get to family therapy immediately. Your daughter needs a safe place to vent and you three need to learn how to talk with each other and listen well.

Haranguing the sororities and fraternities is a useful project for another day and requires energy that you need to bring to the family dynamics.

Your daughter should not be living in a sorority and having access to frat parties. If she wishes to continue at school and have you pay the bills, that is a logical starting place.

But the psychological issues are much more important to sort out. You are dealing with symptoms and not root cause.

It is a mess. I wish you luck.

wildpotato's avatar

It sounds to me as though she doesn’t have much of an idea of how much she can handle – I certainly didn’t when I was a frosh. I disagree with @wundayatta – don’t think that college drinking is pain-drinking, most of the time (although I do believe strongly that therapy is almost always a good idea, for almost everyone) – and, regarding @Buttonstc‘s suggestion, rehab sounds like it’d be a huge overreaction. My friends who have been institutionalized were not helped by the experience, and feel betrayed by their parents to a T.

This will probably sound dumb to most of you, but maybe she just needs some coaching about how to drink to have fun rather than to get drunk. It’s really hard to feel out that line, or even to know at first that there is a line between fun drunk and not-fun, spinney, dangerous drunk. It’d have been awesome to have my parents tell me frankly about their experiences learning how and why to drink with restraint, rather than to vomit my guts out over and over. I agree that there are things one needs to learn for oneself, but I think the discussion about drugs and alcohol could be so much more productive if people were realistic and discussed proper use rather than abstinence.

As far as your husband going over – I don’t think it’d do any big harm to her social life or anything, but maybe these are unusually immature 19-year-olds who still get embarrassed by their families or something. But I don’t think it’d be likely to change the situation in the long run – as you remarked above, only your daughter can do that. I think if she feels so strongly about him not going over, she won’t understand his actions as an attempt on his part to fix things so much as something he is doing to punish her.

JLeslie's avatar

@gimmedat I think maybe ask her to go to therapy. There is no way that we here can know for sure if she has a drinking problem, but it can’t hurt for her to be able to discuss whatever difficulties she might be having. There are usually services on campus.

I don’t know how related this is, but when I was in jr. high and high school most of the girls I had been friends with through elementary became some of the very popular girls, and many of them were party girls. They went to bonfires and house parties and drank and got high. I did not drink or do drugs, and so for the most part I avoided those parties and became very lonely and depressed. Not drinking was dangerous too in a way. But, I am not encouraging anyone to drink, not at all. I think it is better not to drink. But, it concerns me she is worried about being the only one not drinking, that she is feeling pressure. If she feels pressured into drinking, maybe she needs to find a new group of friends or needs her own self esteem built up a little. When I got to college I found it in me to just say I didn’t drink, and I found out most people didn’t care if I drank or not. The peer pressure had been more in my own head than in anyone else’s. I don’t know if that story will help in anyway, but I thought maybe you might be relatable in some way. Oh, and by the way I had friends who easily drank 3 and 4 nights a week in college, and I would not say they were alcoholics. They sometimes did not drink more than on Saturday, but some weeks much more than that. They handled their drinking fine 95% of the time and kept up with school, went to all their classes, etc. There was a tremendous amount of drinking on campus.

About it being against the law, I hate that law. I think it is absurd the law is not 18. But, that is the law, and if they tend to ticket where she goes to school that can be a big headache. Where I went to school I never heard anything close to campus police or city police writing tickets for underage drinking, but some states are more vigilant about it, and like the fines they collect from it I guess.

Meanwhile, the biggest concern is your daughter’s health obviously, physically and psychologically. It even bothers me a little she is being compliant with you telling her to come home on weekends without a huge knock down drag out fight. That to me implies she does not want to really be a part of the parties possibly. Or, is feeling uncomfortable in her social circumstance. If she doesn’t tell you about it, she needs so eone else to talk to. You can’t force her to talk to you about it, and probably cannot convince her she can or should, it has nothing to do with your parwnting, it has to do with how teenagers think.

glacial's avatar

^Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Jeruba's avatar

Did I understand correctly?—you said: “I would pick her up from the event this morning.” You knew it was an all-night drinking event? and you were surprised at what you encountered this morning? That almost sounds like a setup for failure. I am wondering about the extent of denial going on here.

At any rate, if she was drinking before 7 a.m. when she knew you’d be picking her up, either she began drinking again after she slept or she never slept, right? That alone sounds to me like someone who has lost the power of choice. In fact, this sounds to me like the time to invoke the “three C’s” of Al-Anon: you didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it.

Confronting the sorority and fraternity houses strikes me as inappropriate and irrelevant. They are not responsible for her choices. A move to fix blame on someone else is not going to do anything for your daughter. I understand that both you and your husband are reacting with pain, worry, and concern, but that’s not the way, and neither is more control. She needs to do something about her problems, and you need to do something about yours, and those are not the same problems.

It can be really tough to hear this, but it isn’t up to you to make her stop drinking. What’s up to you is to understand your part in this cycle and work on that.

snowberry's avatar

Are you paying for the sorority? Any of the college bills? If so, WHY is she in a sorority in the first place? It provides a ready made place to get in trouble.

Dump the sorority (you can’t make her leave, but you can stop supporting it by paying for it or any other extra curricular activity). If she wants to continue college, do move her home, and make her live at home. If she doesn’t want to live at home, then she finds a way to pay for an apartment and tuition by herself.

I agree with many others here: Don’t bother to talk to the sorority. You have more important things to spend your energy on. If you’ve been paying those bills, the simple fact that you aren’t paying anymore should send them a message.

As for the drinking, use that sorority and/or college money to get to counseling, all of you!

El_Cadejo's avatar

Am I the only one here that doesnt think any of this really sounds like that big of a deal?

Like I realize the accident happened and it was unfortunate but it was a drunk accident, it happens, it doesn’t mean you were plastered drunk either for it to happen, you drink and you become impaired and shit happens. There really is nothing you can do about it. But to expect her to just not drink is asinine. All you can really do is talk to her about being safe with it.

Really I think your making mountains out of molehills. College kids drink. I know not all of them but I mean come on, you took her to a sorority party and were shocked that she was drunk/hung over in the morning when you picked her up…. Seriously?

Find out how much she’s drinking. If its an every night thing then yea get some help, but if its only on the weekends I’d say thats pretty on par for most people her age.

The fact that she wasn’t exposed to any of this growing up just means she’s horribly inexperienced at this point and needs to learn her limits when it comes to drinking. It takes a while but by blowing everything out of proportion you’re just going to push her away and cause more of this behavior you seem to disapprove of.

gimmedat's avatar

So I appreciate all of the input you’ve all offered. I think the last time I logged in to Fluther was about a year ago, and it will probably be another year before I’m back.


JLeslie's avatar

@gimmedat What exactly does that mean? It will be a year again. Are you being sarcastic?

CWOTUS's avatar

I think your judgement on this is way off, @uberbatman. “Having a drink or two while underage” isn’t such a bad thing, I expect. Most of us have done that with little or no consequence. Driving in that condition, wrecking a car, being stopped and searched by police (and ticketed), and showing up drunk for Mom when she’s been told “no more” ... those are not just youthful hijinks. That’s out of control behavior.

Judi's avatar

I haven’t read the other answers but it sounds like you are the typical “helicopter parents.” in my opinion, this type of patenting does a kid no good.
By this age, consequences should be results oriented.
“We will pay your tuition if you maintain a 3.0 (or 2.5 or whatever you agree upon) grade point average.
She should be old enough to make poor choices and suffer the natural consequences, not have after the fact punishments dolled out. You might even say that you will stop paying the bills if you find out she got drunk again, but personally that goes to far and encourages her to lie to you. She needs to feel safe enough with you that if she ever finds herself in a dangerous situation when she’s drinking to call you for help. If shes afraid you are going to throw a fit she might get in a more dangerous place.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^Best to read the other answers and @gimmedat‘s extra information.

She is talking about a 19–20 year old girl who has serious drinking problems.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@CWOTUS “Wrecking her vehicle did not involve alcohol”

As per being searched by the police, you really , nor I know the full conditions of that but depending on where it happened it doesnt necessarily mean she was very drunk. I see cops search kids on my campus all the time just because they “look suspicious”

And last the showing up drunk. Again, SHE WAS LEFT AT AN ALL NIGHT SORORITY PARTY you seriously expect her to not drunk? I think thats really naive to say “ok honey here ya go, you can go to this party, I’m sure you won’t drink cause your under age and that would be wrong” If she’s really that concerned about a drinking problem why in the hell would you prohibit her to go to such a party in the first place?

So no, I really don’t think this sounds like a seriously out of control behavior. Let me ask you this, how old are you? When was the last time you were near or knew someone at a college campus? Do you have any idea what actually goes on at college?

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled As far as I can tell, we don’t know she has a serious drinking problem. She might, she might not.

augustlan's avatar

I don’t know how anyone is determining how serious the drinking problem is, or even if there is a drinking problem at all. We don’t have enough information to make that judgement. All we know for sure is this: Last year, she was ticketed for possession of alcohol; she has been drunk at least once, and was injured; she drank last night at a party. That’s three incidences over the last year, and for at least two of them, we don’t even know how much she had to drink.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@augustlan thats really what I’ve been trying to stress this whole time, you just need to talk to the girl and ask her for real how much she’s drinking. It just blows me away that half the people in this thread think she’s an alcoholic and needs to go to rehab. Maybe she does, I don’t know, but nothing said in this thread thus far really seems to illustrate that point.

Trillian's avatar

How ‘bout you back up off her and allow her to suffer the consequences of her actions?

Jeruba's avatar

I second your question, @JLeslie. It sounds like after receiving more than a dozen thoughtful opinions and implicit or explicit expressions of concern, @gimmedat is now pissed off and walking away. I’d like to know what that’s about too, but it seems safe to guess that she doesn’t like the answers she got. It’s hard not to read something into that.

Whether or not some of us are wrong in thinking the girl may have a problem with alcohol, there seems to be a pretty firm consensus that confronting the fraternity and sorority house parents about monitoring the girl’s behavior is off the mark, and wasn’t that the question? “Bottom line…would you be OK with your spouse making his/her presence known to the sorority/fraternity as a way to run interference with a struggling kid?”

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba Interesting, I had not really clued into her possibly being most annoyed with the answers that said don’t confront the sorority house mother. What baffled me was there certainly is a lot of people on this Q with varying opinions. Not everyone here believes the girls drinking is necessarily a problem, all the jellies here seem to want to help. I thought maybe the OP felt like we were attacking her parenting? But, I really was not quite sure what bothered her most, if she is very bothered.

Adagio's avatar

@Jeruba If my experience is anything to go by, sometimes having so many opinions/possible options directed at your problem (regardless of the fact that you invited them) becomes quite overwhelming, hard to see the wood from the trees.

Coloma's avatar

I agree there may be cause for concern after reading more of the follow up sharings, still, the girl is 19 years old and while family therapy/ intervention may be a good idea, you cannot force that on anyone. It’s just one of those situations where one has to hope for the best.
If she were under 18 it would be a different story.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adagio That is understandable. It would be nice to know simply what the OP meant when she said she wouldn’t come back for another year. Was she just overwhelmed? Did she feel offended? Too upset? Confused? Didn’t get the answers she thought she would?

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma Why family therapy? Why can’t it just be therapy for the daughter? She is in the difficult adolescent time, trying to become her own independent person. The OP has said she was fine letting the girl do her own thing in school until she had this horrible accident. I guess the OP is terrified for her daughter. Understandable she might over react. She is afraid.

Judi's avatar

It’s really hard for some parents to get to the place where their children are no longer an extension of them. When they make bad choices the feelings of fear and concern get mixed up with guilt and shame and it’s hard to sort it out. Until a parent really let’s go and says, “I have done everything I could to raise you right, your decisions from now on are on you. I won’t take credit for your successes or blame for your failures” they will be confused and frustrated when their children make poor choices. This is the voice of experience learning the hard way.

ninjacolin's avatar

Hmm.. I get the sense she was hoping for us to assume the child to be at “rock bottom”.. but i didn’t catch that til now. Sorry to disappoint @gimmedat, only trying to help. :P

Honestly, your story just doesn’t come across as quite a “rock bottom” kind of case. Not sure why exactly..

But that may be what’s really going on and if that’s the case, I’m sorry for the situation she’s facing. Sounds like you’ve gone through lots of good ideas so far. If she’s not admitting to having a drinking problem then trick her into a more generic family counselling session somehow so she doesn’t feel she’s in the spotlight alone.. then lob the question in the middle of it and see what happens. Insta-professional help on the matter.

ninjacolin's avatar

And again, as a party animal myself I’ve seen and see a lot of drunk people and I’m telling you, anyone who loses a lot of bodily control from party drinking really needs to find out what’s going on medically. Regardless of whether she’s allowed to be drinking or not.

Bellatrix's avatar

Perhaps this is a cry for help. She knows if she gets drunk and acts out that you will step in. Does she want to be at college? Is she succeeding or is she struggling with her studies more generally? Drinking sounds like a symptom rather than the problem itself. Perhaps she doesn’t even know what she wants and drinking is her escape.

I think you need to try to organise some family counselling. If the counseller feels she needs additional support from then on, it can be organised. I don’t think you should try to resolve this on your own. Get some professional help. I would also let those people who can keep an eye on her at college know what is happening. Not to enlist their help to control her but to make sure people who need to know there is a problem are aware and can help if necessary. They may also have information you don’t have. About her grades, about her interactions with other students. There may be a whole different side to this story that you are unaware of.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

I agree with uber on this one. I feel as though some of you are over-reacting.

Having lived it (the odd drunken weekend whilst in University), none of this shocks me.

She sounds inexperienced when it comes to alcohol (can’t handle her liquor) and she’s feeling the pressure!

It could be something else (wanting to fit in!), but I really don’t think that she has a drinking problem like some have said.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

Your situation reminds me of the true story of a guy who went climbing and got stuck in a very tight spot, out in the middle of nowhere, at a great height, and either had to stick it out and hope that help arrived, or chop off his arm…and he chopped off his arm.

I don’t think it would be a stunning idea to have your husband wade in all GI Joe gun’s blazing and knife between the teeth. It would make life difficult for your daughter in the long run – as I don’t doubt that sooner or later, word would get out that her Dad has had something to do with the way things might happen to change in that establishment of education.

You guys have two choices. Get pissed off to the extreme and sure you can “give her consequences” (which is a phrase that amuses me for some unknown reason…maybe just because I’ve not heard it put that way before) and fine your husband can…er…have words as it were, with the appropriate figure of authority, but at that age, is it worth it? Let her learn the hard way. She will have to make mistakes sooner or later, and sometimes learning the hard way is the only way to go for some people. She sounds like she’s of the hard learning variety. So let her learn.

JLeslie's avatar

@ninjacolin Rock bottom. I don’t think the OP was hoping for that at all. I think she was hoping for advice to help her kid. I did not get the impression she felt her daughter was on the downward alcoholic spiral.

ninjacolin's avatar

^ who knows I guess.

SuperMouse's avatar

Disclaimer: @gimmedat is my sister and her college age daughter is m niece.

@JLeslie and @Jeruba, @gimmedat was not at all in favor of Mr. Gimme heading to campus and laying things out for the sorority house mom, so I am fairly certain the advice she received in that area is not what caused her frustration in this thread. As to where the frustration may have come from, my best guess (and it just a guess because we haven’t talked about it), is that she was taken aback by all of the parenting advice sprinkled with judgement that was mixed in with the answers. The term “helicopter parent” has some seriously negative connotations and I know that for me, that, along with some of the other comments here, would be rather jarring to read in a thread such as this. I also think @Adagio makes a great point about how overwhelming things can start to feel in thread discussing such an intense subject.

I do know for sure that this young lady had the benefit of awesome, loving, and involved parenting that was balanced with the latitude to make her own decisions. Up to her first year in college, the choices she made were consistently good ones. Such a drastic and dangerous change is alarming to say the least.

Here are a couple of things I know for sure about the situation and where @gimmedat is coming from. First, the incident over the summer with the head injury brought to light the fact that throughout the previous school year she had a serious drinking problem and an issue with knowing her limits. She drank to excess many, many times and blacked out more than once – not a great situation. That was a big red flag and cause for concern. One thing that adds to the concern is that fact that our family is full of raging alcoholics.She may not have hit her rock bottom yet, but the head injury was pretty frightening and her seeming denial of the problem added to the stress. I tend to think that @gimmedat is hoping to help her daughter see the problem before she hits bottom and makes a choice that could permanently and negatively impact the rest of her life.

CWOTUS's avatar

[Entered in error.]

bkcunningham's avatar

There is one philosophy when dealing with addictive personalities that says bring the bottom up to the addict instead of waiting for them to hit the bottom. Very often there is death before the bottom is hit. Bringing the bottom to the addict is full of acute therapy for all involved before that decision is made and it involves lots of tough love, boundaries and consistency. Peace to all involved. God bless this family.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@SuperMouse Thanks for the additional info. That fills a number of questions. Oh crap. this one’s going to be rough. @gimmedat Let me offer you a shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough. And I’m thinking Mr G needs to stay away from the school. This is on your daughter to get square. Going to others is just a form of enabling. Let me think on it some more.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie I should have said therapy in general, although this is a family affair so to speak. The girls issues and mom and dad maybe needing to learn some new coping skills as well. I am still in the camp of it being “normal” behavior for a lot of kids and while the girl needs to be aware of the risks of over indulging in alcohol, a few college benders does not relegate her to the ranks of hopeless alcoholic.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Coloma The family genetics scare the hell out of me. There are genes for alcoholism. It seems to run in the family. Some people shouldn’t touch the stuff. This may be one of those cases.

Coloma's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe If that’s the case, then I agree.

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse Well, there aree some details in your answer that change everything. This really has very little to do with college and house mothers and partying, but everything to do with the girl is most likely an alcoholic. She should not be drinking at all in my opinion. Your sister said she knows drinking happens in college, and seems as though she would be ok if her daughter could drink in moderation, but personally I would be terrified she drank at all with your family situation. Does your neice understand her risks of becoming an alcoholic? Maybe she can attend an AA meeting on campus? Right now it seems she is able to get through weekends without drinking (assuming your sister would figure out if she was drinking) so she is not too physically addicted, but she is on a road to alcohol dependence.


I think an outpatient program, or at minimum going to AA on campus might be a good idea. I also would have recovered alcoholics in the family talk to her. I don’t think her parents can set boundaries at her age to make this better. They can do an intervention if things get very very out of control, but if it were me I would rather go the route of her learning a lot more about alcoholism and hopefully making better decisions. I would advise her to get out of living at the sorority house and in with kids who don’t drink. AA might be able to help with that, although there is the risk that alcoholics, especially young ones tend to go off the wagon.

Judi's avatar

I sincerely apologize if using the term “helicopter parent” was hurtful. I never want to be hurtful, and I can see how it was taken as unkind. @SuperMouse, if you talk to her will you please communicate my sincere remorse?

Buttonstc's avatar

So I guess my suggestion of finding out about Rehab options isn’t that far off the mark.

I didn’t necessarily say to force her into rehab, but if she would go willingly (or as a consequence for her recent poor choices) this may give her some much needed education about her generic predisposition. And if absolutely necessary, the choice can be made for her. That would clearly be second choice but if it saves her life, what does that matter.

Many people are under the impression that Rehab is some sort of isolation or punishment. In reality, a good rehab program educates and enlightens as well.

Of course that’s no guarantee that this will have an immediate effect but she will be getting this education from objective third party sources.

Whether she uses this info to turn her life from a less destructive path is then up to her. But at least she will be doing it with knowledge which could finally kick in at any time.

But she is young and parents DO HAVE some control at this age. Once she hits 21, all bets are off.

I was absolutely shocked by how many parents on this thread were advising a hands off type of approach. It was mind boggling to me.

When dealing with out of control drinking behavior, (and regardless of how many of you minimizers chose to proffer every excuse in the book for her, her drinking was clearly not in control) that is the worst possible approach

Why not seek the help of experts in this field? There are professionals in this field for good reason.

No matter how loving and responsible the parenting has been till now, genetics is clearly raising it’s ugly head.

The average parent is clearly in over their heads on this issue. So, I really don’t understand all the resistance about seeking expert help. (I’m not referring to the parents of this girl. I’m referring to many of the parents on this thread suggesting a hands off attitude and letting her learn from the consequences of her poor choices.)

The problem is that most beginner alcoholics are really slow learners from consequences. They are way too busy being in denial. And as has already been pointed out, the next consequence could end up being death for this girl.

The time to intervene is now since she is still underage. Genetics does not have to be destiny.

These parents still have it within their power to intervene in this self destructive path she has started on. She does not need to shipwreck her future and make a total mess of her life before learning how to deal with life without crawling into a bottle. Things can be turned around now.

And there are experts in this field who can guide her parents through it.

And three guesses where a whole lot of them can be found. That’s right. It starts with “R”.

Coloma's avatar

@Buttonstc Well…it IS, pretty common for college kids to party it up some. I did, and most everyone I know did as well. Not to minimize the potential hazards, of course.
My daughter drank more than I preferred at that age, but, she outgrew it,and wasn’t taking any major risks such as driving.
Now at 24 ( almost 25 ) she drinks, maaaybe, a couple times a year and only at home with her boyfriend and a few friends. She is a very responsible girl and while I agree that problem drinking always merits attention, it is impossible to really advise someone else without being in the thick of it all.

I sure hope it works out for the family.

Buttonstc's avatar

You were fortunate in getting a daughter with better genetics.

This girl is on the fast track.

One of the clearest red flags was repeated overindulgence IN SPITE OF negative consequences. I’m willing to bet that if your daughter had suffered a head trauma as a result of getting too drunk, it would have slowed her down a bit to more caution.

I’m also reasonably sure that if she was already in a sort of probationary period from you that she would not have been too drunk IN THE MORNING to go to work, especially knowing you’d be there to pick her up.

There’s a difference between drinking a lot and being totally unable to NOT drink a lot. If your daughter had exhibited a clear pattern of the second description, and she were underage, you would certainly have insisted she get help.

Drinking a lot vs. alcoholic drinking are two separate things entirely.

And if anyone is in doubt about which it is, that’s the time to consult the experts. It’s a whole lot better than doing it AFTER it’s too late.

Coloma's avatar

@Buttonstc I agree with you. I did talk with my daughter about alcohol a lot and did have my worries at times. Personally, while I enjoy a couple of beers or a bit of wine/champagne at , I really do not like alcohol in general. It is one of the most sloppy and stupid producing drugs out there and is very damaging to a lot of people. No arguments there.

Buttonstc's avatar

As well as good parenting, your daughter got a lucky roll of the genetic dice.

This girl did not. Sounds like she got good parenting but didn’t come out so great on the genetics. But as I said, biology is not destiny. This can be dealt with the same way as people deal with other diseases. That’s why they have experts.

domineek101's avatar

I’m no expert at parenting since I’m still too young to be one… but I remember this one conversation I had with my mom… One of my closest friends got pregnant and was about to get married, before I knew it, i was fretting about the future and kids. I asked my mom how do i make sure that my kid grows up to be good person, I have to make her a trust fund and all those things that paranoia does to people. Then she told me that parenting is a GAMBLE, there is no certainty of what your children will turn out to be. Even if you become the best parent or you give them what they want, or be hard them… there is no guarantee that its enough, the best parents could do is be there for them especially when they hit rock bottom.
Although I agree that there might be deep psychological issues that needs to be looked into because our behaviors always stem up from something that has happened to us. Most parents neglect this fact often times because of the notion that psychologists are for “crazy” people. Psychologist help you to acknowledge that there is a problem and they help you trace it back to its roots.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@domineek101 That is an excellent answer. There may not be any issues in the childs history but another professional opinion might be well worth the cost.

gimmedat's avatar

I was not being sarcastic, I was not storming off, I am not hoping that my daughter hits rock bottom, I am not feeling attacked about parenting. I’m simply overwhelmed by the situation with my daughter and the vast assumptions made by various posters. I know that you all cannot know all of the details surrounding this issue, but I was hoping for some sound insight.

I was blown away by the number of people who said to back off. Back off?? She’s 19. She’s had three incidents in the last year involving alcohol – one of which ended with her suffering a closed head injury. We had to get more involved at that point and many many details of her out of control behavior came to light with that injury. Yes, there had to be consequences for her behavior, regardless of her status as an “independent” college student. It boggles my mind that some would scoff at giving her those consequences. I’ve never prescribed to the notion that parenting is done once a child is 18. And the notion that some are surprised that she’s complied with our expectation that she come home to work to pay her medical bills seems strange or something also blows me away. We’ve sent her to the school she wants to attend, we’ve paid for the sorority, we’ve given her every opportunity to succeed – I guess if she doesn’t want to comply she reimburses us tuition and dues and support herself.

We have talked with her endlessly about drinking, addiction, her predisposition to alcoholism, and her propensity to overindulge. She says she gets it and she has stated over and over that she has dealt with what was making her so miserable last year (she was in counseling) and that she’s actually in a good place. We spoke at length after she went back to school last night and she acknowledged that she made a mistake, that she should’ve stopped drinking at a point, and that she screwed up again. I made it very clear that this is the area she struggles with and that her whole family is here to support her. I firmly believe that she has to hear me if she is to stop this pattern of behavior.

My husband is going to the sorority and the fraternity today. I’m not thrilled with it, but I understand where he’s coming from. He is not trying to control external forces, he’s trying to make people who are close to her everyday aware of a situation. Ultimately, we both realize this is her issue. Yes, it might be the symptom of deeper issues, it might be indicative of an addiction, it might be that she likes to party…to excess. Right now all of that matters none. We are dealing with her, we are supporting her, we are talking to her, we are giving her love and understanding, we are listening to her…and in the meantime we have to exploit every opportunity to help her.

Call me a helicopter, call me overbearing, call me controlling – if that’s what I am in trying to help the girl understand how seriously negative her actions are, than so be it. I do appreciate the many responses to the question of her dad visiting the school.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gimmedat I apologize for telling you to back off. I thought this was the usual kid goes to college and finds out what it can be like to get a little wild. This is much more serious. I’m sorry.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

I do wish that things get better for you and your family. My heart goes out to you. Tough situation to be in.

Coloma's avatar

I do feel that our parenting duties are done after a certain age. This does NOT mean we would not help or be there for our children, but it does mean that there comes a time when we have to let our children experiences the consequences of their behaviors without trying to force them to change or rescue them from the consequences. After age 18 this becomes a truth.
There is a big difference between love and support and falling into codependent patterns.

It IS hard to let go, but, necessary in the long run.
In this case there are no easy answers, I do think you parents should start with a making a counseling appt. for yourselves asap for some professional guidance.
Like it or not there is very little you can do to make your daughter wake up and change and finding your own support system is the best place to start IMO.

Again, all the best to you and your family.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Coloma I don’t think the parenting duties are done if the parents are paying for a college education. The parents have every right to expect their child behave in a certain way if they are going to pay thousands of dollars for a good education. My parents were living in Illinois when they paid for me to attend a college in California. I spent more time at the beach and parties then I did in class. My grades slipped and my parents gave me an ultimatum. Either I start showing some improvement, move back home or I’d be on my own. (I moved back home. California is expensive!) I did a better job at college the second time around when I paid for the experience myself.

This is tough @gimmedat. I feel for you. Stay strong.

Coloma's avatar

@jonsblond I agree that as long as the girl is being supported by her parents that there needs to be boundaries on what is acceptable behavior. What I meant was that, on an EMOTIONAL level, there is absolutely NOTHING they can do to control her drinking, short of completely cutting her off and kicking her out. I doubt they will go the extreme tough love route though. Yep, one of the not so joyous moments in parenting.

JLeslie's avatar

@gimmedat I am so very sorry this is happening. I hope your daughter gets some understanding of her situation fast, but for now she seems to be in denial. She cannot drink a little, she has to abstain from what I can tell from what has been written here.

I think you should consider al anon, or some sort of help for yourself. You might get some good insight from other parents dealing with the same, and some very helpful support.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@gimmedat I just want to point out that your husband going to the sorority house could have a negative affect in your daughter’s life there and at school. I’m not saying for him not to do it, just trying to give you a heads up to be prepared for your daughter to possibly be mad, hurt, and possibly even harassed/bullied at school because of it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seaofclouds I don’t think she is likely to be bullied. I think she will be embarrassed and angry. And, I think it is likely she will have whispers behind her back. Hopefully not.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@JLeslie Perhaps not. It just depends on what exactly happens and how it is handled. Formal complaints about minors being given alcohol can cause a sorority to lose it’s house and standing with the school (at most universities), so there is the possibility of bigger things happening from this. I understand that is not @gimmedat‘s husband’s plan, but the house mom might be require to report such a thing to the school if it is brought to her attention (it depends on the school). I’m just trying to prepare @gimmedat for those possibilities since her daughter is already having some trouble.

gimmedat's avatar

I’m pretty confident that my daughter won’t be bullied when word spreads that her dad visited the house(s). If she is, then perhaps she will realize she doesn’t belong as part of the Greek system after all. I’m hoping that the issue might be handles with compassion and understanding and a heightened awareness, which is why my husband intends to speak to the house mom (generally an older woman who’s experience would hopefully dictate a thoughtful response to his concerns). She will likely be embarrassed, feel shame, hate my husband and I or a time, which I’m OK with because he’s acting out of the belief that this issue needs to be dealt with on a number of levels. I’d much rather have a pissed off embarrassed college student than a dead or victimized college drunk.

We both realize this is but one factor in the situation. Neither of us is deluded into thinking that contact with the house(s) will prevent alcohol from being available, but if it makes the house mom more aware (because really how could she not be aware) then I suppose he’s achieved his goal.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seaofclouds They are not minors. I understand they are underage for drinking, but I would assume all frats and sororities ignore that law. I don’t see any reason why the sorority mother would report anything. I think most likely she will tell the OP’s husband that she understands his concern, but probably won’t be able to do much in the end. It might matter where the OP lives. Maybe in MS they actually try to keep a dry campus and Greek houses, but my college was nothing like that. But, again, I personally was always able to say no thank you to a drink, even at my heavily partying campus, and I certainly was never bullied about it. Once in a blue moon some alcoholic student did the typical, “aw come on, have a drink, you don’t want me to drink alone.” But, I was rarely with just one person, and none of my closest friends were alcoholics, even though they drank like fishes some of the time.

Jeruba's avatar

@SuperMouse, thanks for the additional information. I did remember that she was your sister. And I’m familiar with that sense of frustration with answers to a question I’ve posted. For me it occurs mostly when one or more people misunderstand or misconstrue my question, skip the details, and then others start taking their interpretation from them instead of reading what I actually wrote. That’s why I went back to the question itself and pointed out that we answered what was asked.

Sometimes in an onslaught of answers (particularly when some of them make or imply a judgment on the question and/or the questioner), it can be hard to remember that the commenters are individuals and are not answering as a group. There’s no “they” there. It’s one person and then another and then another, speaking individually.

If there’s alcoholism in the family, all the more reason for her fear and concern, I would think.

I have to note that the pejorative term “helicopter parents” did not come up until after @gimmedat posted her response.

flutherother's avatar

Your daughter has a problem with alcohol I think that has to be recognized particularly by your daughter who may still be in denial about it despite everything that has happened. Not an uncommon problem and not an easy one to deal with.

There may be someone at the college who can give you advice. The Higher Education Center may be able to help you. But mostly your daughter has to accept that she has a problem and that she has to work out a way of dealing with it. If she can’t she will simply have to give up drinking alcohol completely.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am not in the US and I haven’t had children go through your education system. I say this in case there is some element I am unaware of. However, I don’t see your husband speaking to people such as her sorority/fraternity as being a problem for the reasons I mentioned above. I would imagine they are overseeing a lot of young people and unless someone says ‘there is a problem here’ they may be unaware. You are also not there on the ground and may not have the whole story. Your knowledge is limited to what your daughter tells you and what you can observe.

As long as your husband goes in to see them with the aim of taking a team approach to this, I really don’t see why anyone (apart from your daughter) should be offended. I would also expect people in those positions to be required to maintain a high level of confidentiality. There should be no discussion with other students about the visit so I don’t see why your daughter should face bullying.

I am sorry you are going through this. I understand the frustration. Sometimes, despite our best efforts our children do exactly the opposite to what we hope they will do. I do think trying to get her (and you both) to see a counsellor might help. Sometimes that outside person can see things we can’t because we are too close to the situation and because they aren’t so closely tied to the situation, they can often say things that need to be said and even be heard.

JLeslie's avatar

I had a close friend who accepted she was an alcoholic and wanted to stop. She went inpatient and outpatient, constantly falling back off the wagon. It went on for a few years trying to quit once and for all. Eventually she lost custody of her kids, had a car accident, all sorts of things. She once said to me while trying to quit alcohol, “I am not like the other people, I am middle class, not stupid with my money, I have a college degree…” Basically she saw herself as different than “those other people” who are alcoholics and addicts and look a mess. She finally got her act together when she realized her thought process was just like “them.” I realized one time when she was staying with me how incredibly insecure she is and how full of anger.

Anyway, she had accepted she had to stop drinking, but it really took until she dealt with her issues to really stop drinking for years.

wundayatta's avatar

As I said earlier, I think that your husband speaking to them is important. The university has some liability here, and Greeks in far too many colleges have been very lax and even encouraged hazing and alcohol abuse. Young men and women have died as a result. I have a problem with the Greek attitude towards alcohol.

So your husband visiting the Sorority should help put them on notice that parents are watching and they care. I would suggest also talking to people higher up in the administration. This needs to be a high level issue, especially since in can cost the university a lot, if they get sued for allowing illegal activities in university sanctioned organizations.

As to your daughters issues with alcohol—only you could know if this is just hijinks or a sign of a problem. Sounds like you are leaning towards the sign of a problem side, since there is a history of these kinds of problems in your family. I think that is the approach I would take, too, but then, nobody drinks in my family, so for my kids to get in trouble like this would mean something was seriously wrong.

But alcohol is a tough problem to beat. And having consequences may be irrelevant. Once someone gets hooked by alcohol, they may not see any consequence as overshadowing the wonderfulness they feel when drunk. Other approaches are required.

The AA community has their 12 steps and I’m sure you know what they are. It is my belief that people use alcohol as a coping mechanism for some kind of pain. Not everyone agrees with me there. But it is often used by mentally ill people. We call it self medication. People don’t medicate except to deal with pain. They don’t need to get high unless they have something negative they want to turn around. That’s what I believe. Could be wrong, of course.

Now it gets complicated with alcohol. And many people say you have to deal with the alcohol issues first, and then you can deal with the pain. I think it’s the other way around, or maybe you work on both problems at once.

I don’t know your daughter, so forgive me for making this generalization. However, I have found that people in pain are often very lonely. They feel purposeless in an existential sense. Sometimes worthless. This is especially true if depression is involved.

Dealing with these things may require a diagnosis from a psychiatrist. Maybe meds. Maybe ongoing therapy. Perhaps mental illness is involved. I’m prejudiced and tend to think mental illness is involved with all this kind of pain, so take that with a grain of salt.

But this must be heartbreaking and difficult, and you have my sympathy. I hope it works out well, and soon. My daughter is 16 and about to head off to college and it would kill me to see her experiencing stuff like this, and I’d want to do whatever I could to help her. Frankly, that would be true at ag 25 or 30, too.

Judi's avatar

Regardless of what I said earlier, after sleeping on it, I say, trust your instincts mom. Breathe, (and don’t forget to exhale) and listen to what ever glimmer she might be willing to tell you. Maybe a Mother daughter weekend might be a good idea. When my kids were causing me the most stress, I found that a long drive somewhere was the best way to get them to open up and tell me what was really going on. I think it has something to do with having to look at the road. They feel safer opening up.
I’ll tell you one quick story.
My daughter was in 8th grade and was in juvenile hall. Why is another story for another thread. When I picked her up we didn’t say a word. She had told me earlier that someone had stolen her soap and she hadn’t been able to wash her hair or take a decent shower for nearly a week.
Instead of going home, I took her to the country club of which we were members. In the locker room was nice shampoo, and conditioner, body scrub, razors, great showers and big fluffy towels. They also had hair products, deodorant, lotions, combs, brushes and blow dryers.
We showered, went in the steam room and soaked in the sauna, all without saying to many words.
When we got in the car to drive home, I said 3 words to her.
“Choose your lifestyle.”
She wasn’t a perfect kid after that, but I feel like it was the beginning of healing. Where she expected anger and punishment, I offered grace, love and showed her I cherished her.
I understand how your heart is aching @gimmedat. I don’t have the perfect answer. I know the desperation of feeling like your child is slipping away, and being willing to do anything and everything to save them. Personally, I never would have made it without my faith.
FYI, today my daughter is married with two beautiful children. Before getting married she worked as a youth director in her church. She is now in training to be a missionary. Not your typical missionary, trying to save people from the depths of hell, but the type of missionary that shares the love and grace of God with people where they are without trying to change them into something they’re not.

Pandora's avatar

I would simply tell her she has to drop all fraternities and go to a local community college and continue to work. If she behaves for a year and can prove herself to be responsible than she may return back to her college but not sign up with any fraternities. You do know that it is not a requirement to graduate. Least it wasn’t when my kids went to college.
If you are paying for her education she has to learn that it is not required by law. She can simply choose to work and live on her own and pay her own bills.

skfinkel's avatar

Well, coming in very late on this conversation.
But of course, I can throw in my two cents as well.
@gimmedat has not mentioned anything about the college experience—for example, is your daughter excited about her classes? Is she learning new things? I think many of us are on automatic pilot as far as college goes, and many young adults would do well to take a year off and not go to school—especially at what each year costs not only in dollars, but in the space that your daughter is taking in that college. Lots of people may be more ready to attend than she is. So I have two thoughts, based on what you and @SuperMouse have written:
1. It sounds like alcohol could be a more serious problem from your daughter than just the “normal” experimentation that many students do the first time away from home and on their own. She has alcoholism in the family and that is, indeed, something to discuss with her and make sure she fully understands what that means, and how easy it might be for her to become addicted—if she isn’t already.
2. It sounds also like school is not being taken seriously by this young woman. However, there are some very exciting alternative things to do that will give her a year more to grow up before she wastes more time in college. Working at some job she might enjoy, interning at some organization that could use a bright young person, Habitat for Humanity (?), Peacecorps might be alternatives for her—particularly if she is not dealing with alcoholism but rather is just being swayed by her college environment. There are many things that young adults can do that can contribute to their world for a year while they decide if college is really where they want to be.

The issue of alcoholism is perhaps the most serious thing that has to be confronted honestly. But, she will have to be the one to face this. She can have help, but she has to do it.

Silence04's avatar

I highly recommend you read the book Emerging Adulthood by Jeffery Arnet.

JLeslie's avatar

If I remember correctly it was mentioned that the young woman is doing well in her studies.

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