Moms know best

Mothers and daughters talk more during college years

"Mother knows best" is an oft-cited adage that has stood the test of time. Mothers dispense advice, offer suggestions, mediate and provide support throughout their children's lives, all the while crossing their fingers and hoping their children heed at least half of what they hear in order to become responsible adults. A new survey reveals that when teens reach college, the bond with their mothers becomes more important than ever, and keeping the lines of communication open is key.

The survey, conducted by MarketTools on behalf of Anheuser-Busch, found that 92 percent of mothers polled (91 percent of parents) said their college-aged sons and daughters confided in them about important life lessons, including dating, drinking and social pressures. In addition, 76 percent of mothers indicated the level of communication with their daughters actually increased after they entered college. And daughters agree.

According to the survey, 71 percent said communications with their mom increased after starting college, with 78 percent saying they rely on their mom when they need advice on important issues. One of those issues is drinking. Seventy-nine percent of daughters currently enrolled in college said it's easier to talk to both their parents about drinking after starting college.

Francine Katz, vice president of Communications and Consumer Affairs at Anheuser-Busch, and mother of four (two college graduates and one beginning her second year) finds the results consistent with her personal experience. "There is nothing harder than leaving your teen and driving away from campus; after doing it three times, I can certainly attest to that fact. But it's good to know that distance does not end the relationship; in fact, it increases the level of communication.

Between text messaging, cell phones and email, my kids and I actually talked more when they were away at school. We had more open, honest dialog about a variety of issues from how to keep clothes from turning colors in the wash to more important things like under-age drinking and staying safe. I moved from the 'enforcer' I was when they lived at home to 'global advice-giver.'"

But moms may have a bit more work to do with their sons. While 70 percent of mothers said communications with their college sons increased during college, only 56 percent of sons felt that way.

So as mothers across the country prepare their college-bound teens for the new school year, they can look to College Talk: A Parent's Guide on Talking to Your College-Bound Student About Drinking. The guide offers parents tips on how to keep the lines of communication open and encourage their children to continue making smart choices in college. College Talk was developed by an advisory panel of authorities in the fields of alcohol treatment, student health and wellness, social norms marketing, education and family therapy, and through conversations with parents and students.

This new survey further supports other independent and government research showing parents as a positive influence in the decisions their children make even when away at college. According to the 2005 Roper Youth Report, a nationally representative survey, 76 percent of college-bound teens (age 13-17) said their parents were the primary influence in their decisions about whether or not they drink alcohol.

And this parental influence seems to be working. A study conducted by the American Council on Education found the percentage of college freshman who reported drinking beer frequently or occasionally is at the lowest level since tracking began in 1966, 10 percent lower than in 2000 and down 41 percent since its peak in 1982. Likewise, the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University reports that three-quarters of college students drink moderately, infrequently or not at all.

"The majority of college students are doing the right thing by not drinking when they're underage," said Carolyn Cornelison, Ph.D., College Talk advisory board member and a nationally recognized speaker on underage and abusive drinking prevention at the college level. "However, it's just as important to talk with your students during college as it was when they were in grade school and high school, especially about alcohol."

For nearly a quarter century, Anheuser-Busch and its nationwide network of 600 independent wholesalers have led the alcohol beverage industry in promoting responsibility and respect for the law, investing more than a half-billion dollars in alcohol awareness and education programs and partnerships.

In 2006, for the third year in a row, the company ranked first in the beverage industry for social responsibility in FORTUNE magazine's "America's Most Admired Companies" and "Global Most Admired Companies." For information about Anheuser-Busch's responsible drinking programs, click here.