Communication is essential for every healthy parent-child relationship. When communicating about medical marijuana, focus should be on educating about the facts and instilling healthy values. Different approaches work for different people. Children take note of what they see their parents do as well as what you say. They learn by watching. To prevent sending mixed messages to your kids about marijuana, it is important to be clear about your own attitudes first.
Some helpful guidelines:
- Tell them how marijuana fits into your life, whether it is for recreational or medicinal use or does not fit in.
- Explain that for some people marijuana acts as a pain relieving or healing substance just as other prescription medicines do.
- Teach them to respect medical marijuana the same way they would respect another person’s medication.
- Explain why is it good to wait until they are older before trying it or using it for recreational purposes, when they can handle it more responsibly and their bodies are done growing.
- Ask your child what they know about marijuana so you can dispel any myths they may have picked up from friends or an out-of-date DARE program.
- Talk about what marijuana and drinking have in common and what they don’t have in common.
- Educate yourself about state laws on medical marijuana so the information you share with your child is accurate and up-to-date.
- Familiarize them with the laws in terms they can understand, and the consequences of breaking the laws.
- Tell the truth. Kids are great at sensing a cover-up
- Be consistent. You need to know where you stand clearly in your own mind in order to be consistent with your message.
- Be sure to label medical marijuana baked goods and edibles that might be mistaken as their food and teach them that they are off limits for them and their friends.
Sandee Burbank is the Director and Founder of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse, she’s been advocating the need for drug education reform for over 20 years. She has designed and implemented workshops, educational programs, written literature, and worked with teachers and policy makers to change the presentation of drug education.
Sandee is quoted in the article:
“A lot of parents don’t want to look at their own behavior,“ she says. “They don’t want to educate themselves because commercials pack answers into convenient time slots for them. I feel that for the teachers too. They get these national campaigns provided for them like Zero Tolerance or DARE, and that’s all they‘re allowed to do. Really, education should start with personal responsibility and informed decision making.”
Another excerpt from the article:
“In the situation of marijuana with my kids, I would say something like, ‘…it helps lots of people’s bodies…feel less pain” begins Elle. “I don’t want to be in physical pain, and I’ve tried…other things…This really helps me. But there’s a bad side to marijuana, and that is when people, and sometimes teenagers, use it to escape their heart pain. It might seem like a great solution, and it might feel good…to numb out, but you always have to come back to real life, to your real pain. If you rely on marijuana or liquor or any other substances to escape…you’re going to find those problems have a way of growing if they’re left unattended. I don’t use marijuana to escape, I use it to be more present for you and for life. Or something like that.
As Sandee has said before and will knowingly say again, parents should tell their kids about personal responsibility and informed decision making first; especially, if mom and dad take trips to the dispensary.