So, how did your teens spend their Labor Day – the first vacation day from school for this new school year? For many of them, smoking or vaping some weed was a part of their day. How sure are you about whether or not your teen lit up some marijuana today? Why is that? If you don’t want your kids smoking weed, you need to take charge of leading them in a better direction. Here are some of the most important points to include in your discussions with your kids about smoking/vaping:
1. Discuss issues related to marijuana use on an ongoing basis, not just in one big catch-all drug conversation. Do your best to make it natural and comfortable to discuss potentially awkward or uncomfortable topics by staying calm and proactive, rather than allowing yourself to get agitated, loud, or reactive. When you see or hear stories about weed in the news, share and discuss them as a family. Do the same when it shows up in movies and TV shows. And be careful not to present yourself as so judgmental or upset by the topic that you actually send your kids the message, “You’d be crazy to ever honestly discuss any issues of pot, drugs, drinking, sex, or other sensitive matters in your life with me, because I clearly can’t handle it, and I’ll make you suffer for even bringing it up.”
2. Tell them why this matters so much to you. Make it clear how much you love your child/teen, and how much you want to help him/her achieve a fulfilling life of freedom, joy, purpose, and service. Focus on your desires for the best for your teen, rather than on your intentions to police and punish. Feel free to use examples of others with all the potential in the world who cut themselves terribly short by using weed.
3. Be realistic in your concerns and reasoning. Don’t go so overboard in trying to make your point or scare your teens into compliance that you lose your credibility. If your kids want to challenge you with research or articles of their own, don’t dismiss them. Look at them together, and be sure to look at several more that you find that clearly present the whole picture. For example, sharing an article such as this one from the University of Washington is more likely to actually get their attention than one from WebMD.
4. Specifically outline potential and likely health and legal problems. Do your homework before you start the conversation. Learn the accurate statistics, facts, and legal consequences in your state and region. Yes, this kind of homework will take some time on your part. But isn’t it worth it if it helps your teen actually consider the risks of puffing the pipe, rather than simply accepting the popular notion of today that it just isn’t really a big deal? Be very specific. List the health risks in clear straightforward language that is neither sensationalized not sugar coated. Tell them exactly what happens to teens charged with the various crimes related to possession, etc.
5. Don’t forget to address “synthetic marijuana” and other harder drugs. Be sure to follow all these guidelines in making it clear that not only is “synthetic marijuana” not a safe substitute for weed, but it is also much scarier and deadlier. Even as you discuss the dangers and concerns of harder drugs such as meth, molly, GHB, etc., using all the guidelines above, be sure you make it clear that marijuana is not a safe, natural, herbal alternative to “dangerous drug” use.
6. Ask direct questions – and listen. Don’t avoid the hard questions because either you or your teen may be afraid of the answers or outcomes. GO THERE! Ask if your teen has ever tried marijuana, and how many of her/his friends have done so (with an assurance that you aren’t trying to “nail” anyone). Ask why not/why. How often? Ask what they liked or didn’t like about the experience. Ask what your teen believes will happen if ever busted by you or the cops. Clarify the accuracy of this together. And on and on.
7. Assure your teen you are far more interested in celebrating the successes of his/her life than in scrutinizing the failures. Yes, we already touched on this, but it is just so important it bears repeating and emphasizing. Make this a regular reminder. I dare you to ask your kids periodically if their actual experience with you proves or disproves this assurance!