How to Have a Mature Conversation with Your Child about Marijuana
One of the trickiest parts of parenthood involves broaching complex topics with your children, including the use of substances like marijuana, nicotine, and alcohol. While you wouldn’t want your children to engage in any dangerous, life-threatening, or illegal behavior, it doesn’t make sense to shelter them from these things forever. The best way to set a precedent for rational and responsible behavior from your children—no matter how long it will be until they become adults—is to educate them.
The earlier you can have a discussion with your children about these things, the more productive it may be for all parties involved. You won’t have to worry about your kids navigating such complicated issues while being completely in the dark, and you’ll be able to ensure that they get their knowledge from trusted sources. At the same time, in the process of speaking with you, your kids will learn to see you as someone who will support them unequivocally and who has their safety and best interests in mind.
For those reasons, there’s no need to beat around the bush when the topic of cannabis comes up in your family life. Here’s how to open the conversation with your child if they ask you about marijuana upon learning about it from someone else, or if they get curious about THC delivery, CBD wellness items, and other products and services that have entered the market in light of changes to the legality of cannabis.
Start with the Facts
Regardless of your stance or preferences on cannabis use, it’s good to be objective and to ground the conversation with your child on the facts. You can start by explaining the difference between medicinal marijuana and recreational marijuana, and then segue into what both state and federal laws say about the legality of cannabis for both types of use. Make sure your child knows about situations in which it is always illegal to use marijuana and be under the influence, such as when one is driving.
To get a better idea of where your child first learned about marijuana, be candid and ask them about it. Invite them to talk about their first impressions based on what they’ve gathered from their neighbors or schoolmates or what they’ve absorbed from books, movies, TV shows, and music. This is a great opportunity to gently correct any misconceptions they may have and to lead them towards truthful and levelheaded discussions about cannabis.
If you’re not confident about your own knowledge on the subject, or if your child asks you a question that you can’t immediately answer, don’t be afraid to say so. Tell your child that you could also stand to learn more about the topic and that you can look it up and discuss it together.
Talk about Cannabis’s Effect on the Body
Next, you can talk about marijuana vis-à-vis the effects that the cannabis plant has on the human body. Older kids can learn the details about cannabinoids, or the naturally occurring compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. Much of the conversation may center on the two most prominent cannabinoids: cannabidiol (CBD), which is best known for its analgesic and anxiolytic properties, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is cannabis’s psychoactive component and is responsible for its high.
You can tell your child about what makes THC and CBD different from each other, what types of items contain THC as opposed to CBD, how long it may take for the effects of either compound to kick in, and the potential adverse effects and interactions with alcohol and over-the-counter medications. Once they understand how exactly a substance like marijuana can affect their bodies, they’ll understand the risks and the precautions they’ll need to take as adults.
Emphasize the Importance of Consent and Accountability
Few of the conversations that you’ll have with your child about marijuana will end on the particulars of the substance itself. You should also prepare to broach adjacent topics like responsibility over one’s safety and the safety of others, the right thing to do when faced with peer pressure, and the importance of consent.
When the topic of marijuana comes up, remember to emphasize the following:
- Your child should never forget their own safety and the safety of the people around them when presented with a substance like marijuana, as reckless and illegal behavior can seriously endanger lives.
- Your child should aim to have presence of mind and to be in a state in which they can make rational decisions for themselves.
- Your child has boundaries that must always be respected, and that it’s never okay to force someone to take something they’re uncomfortable taking or to covertly put substances into someone’s food and drinks.
Use Age-Appropriate Language and Methods of Explanation
Lastly, go about your discussions with your child in the most age-appropriate manner. Young children benefit from discussing issues like cannabis use with plain, simple language. It’s also a good idea to use supplementary tools, like educational videos and posters, to add clarity to the conversation.
If your child is an adolescent or in their teen years, they’ll be able to grasp more technical language and concepts as well as dive deeper into the psychological and emotional issues that come with cannabis use. Just remember that, however old your child is, you should not skew the conversation towards extremes. Try not to euphemize or sugarcoat your words. But take care not to glamorize substance use or, on the flip side, moralize or use sensationalist language.
Final Words: Keeping Your Communication Lines Open
In the end, the framework that you use to talk to your kids about marijuana may not be much different from the one you’d use to broach the topics of cigarettes, alcohol, or sex. In all of these scenarios, it’s important to have honest and age-appropriate discussions, to bring up key issues like safety and consent, and to emphasize the safeguards that you’ve put up for them as their parent.
Always aim to have a measured and rational response to your child’s natural curiosity or their thoughts about marijuana and other substances in relation to deeper issues like fitting in. Above all, make it clear that your child can go to you for further questions or concerns—and that you’re among the first people that they can turn to for the support they need as they grow up.