How to Talk With Your Teen About Marijuana Use
Published on 1/26/21
If you are a person of a certain age in this country, looking back at the changes that have occurred over the last 25 years can be staggering. The Internet, smartphones, YouTube, Facebook and Amazon have all changed our lives in ways we could not have imagined. Some might claim that the transition of cannabis from illegal to legal deserves to be at the top of the list of unusual and unexpected developments. Americans haven't witnessed the reversal of a substance's legal status of this magnitude since the Prohibition days of speakeasies and gangsters in big cars. As societal views progress and legal weed becomes more visible across the country, the responsibility falls on parents to "have the talk" and make sure that their children know as much as possible about the substance that large segments of the population stigmatized and demonized.
How to Talk With Your Kids About Marijuana
Typically, It is up to parents to initiate the conversation about cannabis, but those who live in recreational states have the advantage of environmental factors possibly contributing to your child asking you about it. The simple existence of cannabis dispensaries and weed advertising will often prompt questions by children who are curious about cannabis. This curiosity takes the onus away from the parent and allows the conversation to begin more casually when the child is at ease. The topic might also come up if your child sees it referenced in a film, on television or in another form of pop culture. Parents can prompt their kids into a discussion by asking if they have heard anything about cannabis and what they know (or think they know) about it. Children's Hospital Colorado suggests that parents begin to address marijuana when their children reach the age of 10, but they can discuss it prior if the child begins to ask questions.
There are several things to keep in mind when having a conversation about marijuana with children.
- Be calm and relaxed. Kids will remember if you are anxious or the conversation has an intense vibe.
- Stay positive. This should be an informative and enlightening discussion for you and your child.
- Avoid lecturing and stay engaged - this is a conversation.
- Be honest, open and fair.
- Ask open-ended questions that will keep your kid from simply answering "yes" or "no."
- Be empathetic to their concerns or feelings.
Each conversation varies based on your specific situation. You wouldn't talk to an eight-year-old asking what the dispensary sells in the same way how you talk to your teen who's already smoking pot. However, it is critical for you to discuss the impact of marijuana on kids and to provide your child guidance to make the proper decision regarding smoking themselves. These are a few topics that should be part of any conversation with children about marijuana:
- The legality of the drug where you live. Take the time to explain why laws are different in different places and why cannabis is becoming legal in a growing number of states.
- Stress that that legality is only for adults over the age of 21.
- Present the positives and negatives that might come from the use of marijuana.
- What your child should do if offered marijuana.
- The medicinal value of cannabis for people suffering from a variety of ailments.
- If you use marijuana, explain why and reiterate that you made your decision as an adult. Be sure to be a good role model with your consumption practices and routine. Smoking marijuana is an adult activity and everyone should treat it as such.
What to Do if Your Kid is Smoking Pot
Parents have different rules and expectations when it comes to raising their children and marijuana use, but the core of any healthy relationship with cannabis is education. For example, where and how is your kid consuming cannabis? Does your kid know that smoking a joint will elicit a far different physical reaction than eating an edible? Are they aware that some vapes might not be pure and can contain dangerous additives? Does he/she know that THC levels can vary greatly between strains of weed? Does your child know that cannabis use can adversely affect brain development? These are just a couple of key questions that should be part of your pot talk and that will help your child make proper decisions and use good judgment moving forward.
Remember that kids often think that they already know all the facts based on what their friends tell them, what they see on TV and what they hear in school. Sadly, that information is usually incomplete and often false.
When did you begin to discuss marijuana with your child and why? Tell us your story in the comments below!