How to Talk to Your Kids About Cannabis
Published on 10/29/22
Talking to your children about cannabis isn't always easy, especially when so many states have validated its benefits with medical marijuana programs while the federal government still has it classified as illegal and highly addictive with no medical benefits. If not controversial, marijuana is still often a taboo subject.
So when is the right time to bring up cannabis with your children? At what age should your kids become aware of it? Is it similar to other talks, like the birds and the bees' or alcohol use? If you're a concerned parent, you've come to the right place. Let's take a quick look at the basics of talking about how to talk to your kids about cannabis, when the right time to do it might be, and how that conversation might look.
Kids and Cannabis in 2022
Unlike many current parents who likely grew up around the "Just Say No" era when smoking marijuana was equated by parents, educators, and the government to sign up for a lifetime of drug abuse and misery, kids now have many conflicting narratives provided to them. It's no longer so black and white, and it's easy to imagine that children would quickly begin to wonder if cannabis is good or bad for them.
Cannabis is now legally integrated into our culture in a way it never has before. In many places, cannabis is dealt with more like alcohol than it is an illicit drug. Because of this, kids are much more likely to hear about marijuana from an early age and hear many different takes on it. So when is a good time to address it? How are you supposed to approach this discussion?
How Old Should Your Kids Be to Talk About Cannabis?
Let's start with how old your kids should be when you first discuss cannabis with them. Ultimately, it's up to you as a parent to decide when to have the conversation. There is no right or wrong - and what we're suggesting is not official advice. Many experts suggest that it's never too early to discuss drugs and alcohol with your kids. We assume that children between the ages of eight and ten are at the peak age for learning about almost everything: sex, drugs, alcohol, curse words, and the truth about Santa Clause. The world opens up to kids when they enter the mid-late years of elementary school, and they're exposed to so much through their peers and the world around them.
Also, because kids are considered the most impressionable in their early teen years, it's advised for parents to set a base example of right and wrong early on. If you want your kids to have a specific understanding of marijuana as they grow up, introducing it around the ages of eight to ten is an excellent way to ensure you're having good discussions going into those formidable early teen years. It's also important to note that this discussion is not one-and-done. The conversation around cannabis will likely be an ongoing, evolving thing as your child has more questions, experiences new things, and confronts different viewpoints and opinions. The conversation you have with your teenagers will likely be very different than the conversation you have with your eight to ten-year-olds
How to Talk to Your Kids about Cannabis
Just as there is no right age for having this discussion with your kids, there is not one right way to go about the conversation. However, there are definitely a few standards and suggestions we have before going into the discussion.
Provide Your Kids with Facts
A lot more is known about cannabis today than ever before. While a lot of research is still needed to understand the benefits and limitations of cannabis better, there are a lot of facts that can be pointed to as conversation starters and to validate your stance. A great source of facts and information about marijuana can be found in our other blogs and articles!
Differentiate Between Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana
There are many reasons why people use cannabis medicinally. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, migraines, eating disorders, cancer treatment - there are many valid reasons why people use cannabis to help alleviate various symptoms, conditions, and discomforts. How to explain medical marijuana to a child is different than how you will likely explain recreational use. Make this distinction early on and set expectations for both.
Be Open to Answering Questions
As you likely know, kids are prone to asking many questions, many of which seem to come out of nowhere. When you talk to your kids about cannabis, try not to shut down or close off any answers. Be patient, ask questions in return, and answer as much as possible. If questions go unanswered, your kids will likely look for opinions and answers elsewhere.
Invite Further Conversations
As we mentioned before, remember that this conversation will not be one-and-done. When you finish a discussion on cannabis with your kids, let them know that you are available if they have other questions or want to discuss it further. Be an education source and sounding board for your kids regarding cannabis, just like with so many other things.
What About Cannabis Not to Talk About with Young Kids
Again, there is no hard rule here. However, there are a few things you might want to think twice before saying to your kids (especially if they are younger). For instance, we suggest not being overly enthusiastic about cannabis as a recreational activity. Setting the precedent that it's fun and enjoyable could lead to early use, which is scientifically proven to be unhealthy. On that note, it's also been suggested that parents' use of cannabis increases early use in children. Being reserved in your use around your children and being calculated in how you approach that topic could be crucial. Remember that you have a lot of influence on your children - and with marijuana use, like anything else, we highly recommend seeing/using that responsibility with the gravity it deserves. When your kid catches you smoking, that sets a certain expectation. When you have a discussion about it and set out your expectations and the facts about cannabis use, it sets another.
Have you had the cannabis talk with your kids? Better yet, have your kids caught you smoking? Let us know how you handled the situation and what tips you have. Comment below.