Parents and Families

two parents in a kitchen

Research shows it is important to talk with your student frequently to keep those lines of communication open. Call, text, email, or talk with your student, especially during the first six weeks of the semester. Laying a strong foundation during this transition is very important to their academic and overall success.

One important component of these conversations is your expectations for their behavior.

Personal and Institutional Values

  • Encourage your student to reflect on their values - the more we know ourselves, the more likely it is that our behaviors will align with those values.
  • Discuss the University's values - U-M cares about providing a safe, inclusive environment so that all students can succeed academically and socially. How would they stand up for someone who is not being treated with respect?

Abstaining or Drinking in a Low-Risk Way

Research suggests that discussions prior to starting college lead to lower alcohol consumption during the first year and lower risk of serious alcohol-related consequences. For help with this conversation check out Alcohol Edu for Parents.

  • If your student plans to abstain, ask them how they will handle invitations to drink and learn about activities on campus that support their choice. See Happening@Michigan, the U-M events calendar.
  • If your student may choose to drink, consider asking how they will keep themselves from drinking too much.  

Healthy Relationships

  • Brainstorm with your student what makes a healthy relationship, whether with a romantic partner, a friend, or family member.  (Some points to touch on include open communication, expectations, boundaries, and mutual respect.)
  • Consider asking who their relationship role models are and why.  Share qualities you value in relationships. If they are upset within a relationship, how will they talk about their feelings and needs?  


  • Talk with your student about the fact that if they choose to be sexually active, they should understand the importance of both giving and receiving affirmative, verbal, and sober consent for all sexual activity.
  • Consent is always freely given and both people must feel that they are able to express yes or no at any point. The partner escalating sexual activity must obtain consent before proceeding.
  • Discuss coercion. Coercion is any tactic which intimidates, tricks, or forces someone to have sex without physical force.
  • Consider asking how they let a partner know what they do and don't want. Ask them how they know if they've received consent. Talk with them about what they would do if they have been drinking and are considering having sex.


And remember, you can also remind your student to connect with Student Life resources for further conversations or questions, like:


To help Student Life continue making a difference in students' lives, please consider making a gift.