Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back to School - A New Taste of Freedom

I've always heard that you’re likely to find your life-long love in college, and I understand why.  College is the only time where you will live with approximately 300 eligible, educated and often attractive members of the opposite sex.  While there are obviously perks of living in this environment, it can also become dangerous for freshmen who are experiencing a new taste of freedom.

As a Resident Mentor, I often have parents ask me to make sure their daughters don’t have guys spend the night in their room. However, it is usually this girl who takes advantage of her newly found freedom and becomes consumed by the opposite sex, now freed from her parent’s strong grip.

After meeting hundreds of freshman and living with nearly 1,500 of them over the last three years, I have come to the conclusion that they are most likely going to have someone of the opposite sex spend the night at some point in time.  I no longer feel like it is my job to stop them, but I do feel like I can educate them and help keep them safe. The best way to have these important conversations with freshmen is by keeping it casual and treating them as adults. They are no longer children who can be told what to do, and trust me, they are aware of that.

My first approach is always to show them that I care about them and want to keep them safe.   It is important that this message is consistent across the board.  If they think you are only worried about them getting pregnant, they’re going to shut you out because they have heard it so many times.  Let them know that there are many more complications that come along with sex, besides just getting pregnant.  Sex often affects teenagers emotionally as well and can lead to unhealthy relationships if it is not handled properly.

I know that as a Resident Mentor, and I can imagine as a parent, it would be easier if everyone waited to have sex until they were married or old enough to have a child and went through their college years studying and watching movies with friends on the weekend.  However, that is not always the case.  So, it is important to learn how to communicate with young adults and encourage them to stay safe in everything they do, whether that be having sex or going to the Carolina football game wearing a Clemson jersey.

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