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Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol: Talking to My Daughter About Staying Safe

“I went to a great party – there were tons of cute guys and a couple of them asked for my number. One of them even texted me later that night,” Brittany excitedly told her mom on the phone.

Janet, Brittany’s mom, was excited for her daughter, but she was also worried. Was there alcohol at the party? Brittany had been a bit of a bookworm in high school and never went to drinking parties as far as Janet knew. But now her daughter was in college; it was a whole new world. What was the best way to talk to her about staying safe while still having fun?

Janet took a deep breath. Then another…

A Difficult Conversation

“I don’t want to intrude,” she told her daughter. “You’re a grown woman now and you can do what you want. But I worry about the stories I hear about girls being assaulted at parties. Have you thought much about making a plan to be safe?”

There was silence on the phone – a long silence.

“Mom, I’m fine,” Brittany laughed, but her mom recognized it as her “fake” laugh, the one she did when she thought she was in trouble.

There was another silence.

“This one guy,” Brittany said, “He tried to get me and my roommate Courtney to go back to his room. We said no. But it was scary. We were out back of the house and Courtney was trashed and I was afraid she’d say yes. Then I didn’t know if I should let her go or if I needed to stay with her…” Brittany’s voice trailed off.

Preparation is Key

“Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do,” Janet said calmly. “Maybe you and your friends could make a plan in advance of going out? Like who’s going to stay sober enough to make sure everyone gets home okay?”

The message seemed to sink in. Brittany had expected her mom to be angry that she and her friends drank at the party. Instead, Janet was offering calm, sensible solutions to the problem.

“I think we could do that. I was scared, Mom.” Brittany’s voice broke into small tears.

Janet remembered how her daughter could so easily hide emotions. Yet she knew, behind that wall of excitement and new college life, there was an element of fear, of discomfort.

“No matter what happens,” Janet said, “I will always be there. No matter what happens.”