“Mom, I told my teacher you do drugs…”
Wait, what? That’s right, you heard it right. But, you use medical marijuana. There’s a difference, right?
For younger kids, because of D.A.R.E. and similar programs, and because of the Federal view of the legality of marijuana, many children are still taught that marijuana is a dangerous drug and they should “Just say No”. For those with older children, the fact that marijuana is legal, and therefore usage is more socially acceptable, may lead teens to take a more casual approach to using and experimenting. Many may take the attitude, “well, Mom does it, so it can’t be bad and she can’t really say anything about it, right?”
So, how do you reconcile what your kids are learning, or seeing, with what happens in your home. Does this mean that as an adult you have graduated from hiding your usage from your parents to hiding it from your kids.
No. That may be the worst solution.
You are a licensed, approved user of medical marijuana. How do you explain that to your children? How do you make that distinction? Many experts say that you should approach the talk similar to the way that you would have the “alcohol talk” with your child. Using the rationale that while it is legal, it should still be used in moderation and does not mean that it is for everyone. Another approach would be discussing the medical marijuana as just that, medication. Explain that, just like a person takes blood pressure medication if they have high blood pressure, you use medical marijuana because you have a medical need for it.
So, when do you start?
Some say to wait until your child approaches you, thereby letting the child initiate the conversation, others suggest to start the conversation early and answer questions as they arise. You, as the parent, will likely be the best person to judge when your child is ready and how in depth the conversation needs to be.
Whatever timing you choose, many sources agree on the following basic tips:
- Keep the information “age appropriate”. Simple questions and simple answers.
- Don’t lie to your children. This can lead to mistrust and possibly shut off those lines of communication that you are trying to build. This not only includes disclosing your own usage, to an extent, but also admitting when you don’t know an answer to a question that they’ve asked.
- Don’t lecture, have an open dialogue. This can foster a relationship with your child and ensure them that they can come to you when they have questions or concerns.
- Be clear in your expectations of your children, but understanding when/if they make a mistake.
The safest avenue is for anyone to wait until they reach the age of consent for the state in which they live. Legal ramifications are less severe and more options are available legally. Explain to your child the differences between using responsibly, as an adult, and purchasing or using illegally.
The following are resources and tips that may be helpful for the conversation: