A couple of weeks ago it was just like any other Saturday. I was preparing to do a few things around the house when I needed to grab some tools from the garage. I reached for an old box of bolts and screws I had on a shelf when something seemed off about the weight. I looked inside, and there it was- a small pipe with a tiny bag of marijuana.
At first, I was shocked, “This couldn’t be my daughter, not her. There’s no way.” This eventually led to anger and frustration, thinking where I went wrong as a parent. However, after taking a few moments to calm down, I realized this wasn’t my fault. Plenty of kids are choosing pot over drinking, with even some of the brightest of the bunch taking part. In yet, this was something I still felt like shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Preparing For The Talk
The biggest thing my wife and I stressed was not to get angry at her. After all, it’s natural for kids to want to experiment with certain substances (especially today, as marijuana continues to become more ingrained in popular culture). But both of us have seen the effects it can have on people later down the road, which is the hardest part for a kid to understand. To her, it seems harmless, but she hasn’t lived through seeing others graduate to other drugs, or even seen the ways in which pot can trigger mental illness. Granted, we’re thankful that our medical history has no previous signs of mental health problems, but then again, that’s not a guarantee.
Our best approach was to have an honest conversation about why it’s important for her to realize the full-scale of consequences she’s facing. Beyond just the law, marijuana can have a huge effect on a person’s social, financial, and emotional life as well. And with so much going on in her life, we worried this could definitely be detrimental.
At first, we were almost as scared as she was. After all, neither her nor us were ready to have this conversation, but it was important to have. We opened up our dialogue by explaining to her that we understand the drug is becoming more commonplace, even echoing the sentiment that marijuana should be legal. From there, the talk shifted to a different tone about why specifically for her, smoking in high school isn’t a good thing to do.
Of course, we had to lightly touch on the legal aspect first as no parent wants their kid potentially going to jail. But from there, the conversation dealt a lot with responsibility. We explained that like drinking, smoking marijuana could be something that mature adults can do in their off without harming anyone. But as her brain is still developing, marijuana can play in effect in that.
Luckily, she was pretty receptive about this portion, giving us only feedback on how “she’d be fine,” but it was still something to consider. In yet, the most difficult part dealt with her friends.
While the idea that marijuana is a gateway drug is somewhat becoming outdated, it’s true that people who smoke marijuana are going to be more likely to do other drugs (however, the same argument could be made for drinking, but that’s another story). More, people will hang out with other people for the sole reason that they do drugs, which is going to be true practically for the rest of her life. We expressed that it’s important to keep an eye on her passions and projects, as well as to be mindful of what those around her were doing. Young people can change quick, and it’s imperative to nip whatever could happen in the bud right away.
An Outside Perspective
As punishment, we encouraged her to talk to people who work in the industry about marijuana. This included a broad range of occupations, from lawyers, police, doctors, and even those who work directly in the legal industry. One thing that stood out to her that was even with the laws changing in certain states, those people were really pushing for responsible usage.
“I definitely think you should wait until you’re older, marijuana will always be here.” A person she spoke on the phone with from Green Dragon said (a recreational cannabis shop) “You’ll enjoy it a lot more, it will be easier to deal with. Plus, if things keep changing, it might even be legal.”
Which, was great to hear. It’s true that as parents, we realize our kids are keeping up with what’s going on too. All we can do is encourage them in the right direction. And today, I felt like we did exactly that.