Chris Stout, PhD

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What Parents and Emerging Adults Should Know

Chris Stout, PsyD




  1. Smart Money magazine, September 2006 issue
  2. Binge by Barrett Seaman
  3. Taylor CB, et al. Prevention of Eating Disorders in At-risk College-age women.  Archives of General Psychiatry.  August 2006
  4. 8/15/2006
  5. Associated Press, June 5, 2006
  6. Fox News, College Alcohol Abuse Sparks Drinking Prevention Debate, by Michael Park, August 28, 2006
  7. Fox News, Colleges Struggle, Innovate to Meet Mental Health Needs of Students, by Robin Wallace, August 29, 2006


Tips for Parents


  • Don’t expect a lot of communication from college administration. Your child is now an adult. You will not even legally be able to open grade reports that come in the mail.
  •  Let your student know that you are there for support and advice, but not for lectures. Parents of college students need to be mentors/sounding boards, but not the problem solvers. Parents can suggest solutions or offer emotional support, but not interfere (e.g., tell your student to talk to a problematic professor, but don’t call the dean or professor). Don’t call too frequently. You need to give your student time to be independent, but if there is a big problem, you are always available.
  • If your student has a history of emotional or academic problems, they may need special support that they may not know how to access at college. Route them to student services. Some students (especially those from private, preparatory, or parochial             high schools) may have undiagnosed learning disabilities that can derail them.
  • If your student has a track record of drinking, using drugs, or self-harming the stresses of moving, college classes, fitting in, learning the new surroundings and rules (or lack thereof) and negotiating roommate adaptations can be compounded by not having the support that home offered or access to familiar friends, which can lead to a deterioration in functioning. Many colleges have abandoned clinical - counseling centers in favor of career/academic-counseling centers, so not all colleges have a place where students can get emotional support. Parents should find this out in advance if they suspect their student would benefit from such help.
  • The best ways to communicate is to engage your son or daughter in conversations. The best conversations come from a non-judgmental, non-pressured dialogue. The best dialogues come from asking sincere questions that are not cross-examinations.

Tips for Students

  • Never drink from an open container or punch bowl. Never leave your cup unattended. If you do, throw it out. Even if you know the host, you don’t know everyone at the party. If you don’t want to drink, don’t, or have a soft drink instead.
  • Alcohol poisoning is more common than you think. Much more.
  • Depression, anxiety and stress can be part of college life. Most of the time they pass, but if they don’t, and talking with supportive and trusted peers does not help, seek help from a mental health professional
  • You have a right to make decisions that are safe and healthful. You should never be intimidated or pressured into doing something you do not feel comfortable doing. This includes your sexuality (e.g., pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Illnesses), your integrity (e.g., cheating, throwing a game), your safety (e.g., violence, date-rape),   your body (e.g., drugs/alcohol/self-harm/branding/tattooing) or your emotions (e.g., psychological issues, intimidation, manipulation, suicidality, addiction, etc.)
  • Experimentation and sampling are normal parts of development and common to college years, however they should not be confused with risk-taking behaviors.