Birds, Bees and Bud
OK, I’ve done it. There has been a point in my parenting career where I’ve uttered the phrase, “Drugs are bad, mmmkay?” to my now 9-, 11-, and 13-year-old. Blank stares and eye-rolls ensued.
My spouse and I were casual users before children, but we quit for legal and logistical reasons once they were born. Then, in 2015, the US state of Oregon legalised recreational marijuana. All of the sudden those reasons didn’t exist anymore, and we wanted back in.
But after years of telling our kids not to do drugs, how were we supposed to amend that without looking like hypocrites? It’s a unique dilemma only a small historical group of us will be burdened with. By the time our kids are parents, smoking a joint will be akin to drinking a beer. Until then, honesty is the best policy.
Making recreational marijuana usage a secret doesn’t work. Being honest from the start is your best bet, but it’s never too late to come clean. Tell your kids that you’ve done some research and realise you were wrong about some of the things you thought you knew about cannabis. State the facts but keep it simple. Avoid politicising the issue that first conversation. Explain that science and laws are always changing, and that when used responsibly, cannabis is less harmful to the body and mind than alcohol.
Let your kids know you have ground rules. Good ones to start with include never driving high, never attending sporting events and other child-related events high, and only consuming on the weekends. When your children see that you can engage in a mind-altering activity in a safe and responsible way, it will give them the assurance they need that, yes, you are still a good parent who puts your kids first, and, no, you’re not going to turn into the stereotypical pothead they’ve seen on TV.
While consuming cannabis around your children is ultimately a personal choice, keep in mind that smoking it still has some carcinogenic properties, as well as an odor your kids may have a negative connection with. Edibles or portable vape pens like the Pax will appear less taboo in your kids’ eyes than taking a giant bong rip. Save that for after they go to bed.
Always lock up your stash. A simple lockbox set on a high shelf is worth the investment. It’ll keep your young children from accidentally ingesting it, especially if you have edibles in the form of gummies or chocolate, and it’ll keep your older children from secretly experimenting with it when you’re not around.
It is important to make very clear the negative effects of cannabis on a developing brain. While studies on the effects of marijuana on the developing brain are still underway, what we do know is that the human brain isn’t done growing until our early 20s. We also know that other drugs have shown to have lasting negative effects on the growing brains of its habitual users. While we don’t want to demonise cannabis use, we need to be clear about possible long-term implications in adolescence.
Just like “the birds and the bees talk”, educating our children about pot may be awkward and uncomfortable for all parties involved. Short and sweet is fine, at first. Always ask if your children have any questions, and follow up with them periodically. It is a parent’s responsibility to open the lines of communication with their kids. By being upfront and factual, we can
Kelsey Zander is a freelance writer from Portland, Oregon (USA). While her main focus is tech, she sometimes writes about more tangible things, like her kids. You can visit her website at www.kelseyzander.com.