Helpful Tips for Talking To Your Son or Daughter About Marijuana
If you’re a parent, you likely think a lot about the health and safety of your children, and that’s perfectly normal. You want the best for your son or daughter, and you want them to have a healthy, happy life. Because of that, the fact that teen marijuana use is at its highest point in 30 years should be quite concerning to you.
Luckily, all parents can have a remarkably profound effect on whether their kids will use marijuana or not.
Steps You Can Take to Show Your Son or Daughter Why Weed is Not for Them
While there might not be a set-in-stone system for preventing your son or daughter from using marijuana, there are steps you can take and approaches you can work on that will significantly reduce your child’s chances of experimenting with cannabis products. Following are 12 strategies to consider:
- Discuss the short term effects of using marijuana. One of the easiest ways to open a discussion on marijuana is to talk about the impact of using the drug. Marijuana causes altered senses, mood changes, impaired body movement, difficulty thinking and problem-solving, hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis. Explain these effects to your son or daughter, and make sure they understand that these effects can be quite harmful and unpleasant.
- Discuss the long term effects of using marijuana. The long term effects of using marijuana can be quite severe. Chronic breathing problems, cardiovascular issues, problems with child development during and after pregnancy (for mothers who use marijuana while pregnant), getting sick more easily, a decline in IQ, hampered brain development, emotional and behavioral problems, experimenting with other drugs, difficulty keeping a job, etc.
- Look for teachable moments. “Teachable moments” refer to moments in time where a situation or scenario presents itself that would allow for a smooth transition into a discussion about marijuana. Examples might include driving with your son or daughter past a marijuana dispensary, seeing a character on TV smoking marijuana, or hearing someone nearby talk about marijuana. TV and movies make for great teachable moments, as much of today's media has imagery and depictions of young people using drugs and alcohol. These moments allow for an easy segue into a discussion about marijuana. These conversations can be easier to have than a formal family meeting or lecture-like discussion.
- Create a safe environment for conversation. A rule of thumb for when parents try to talk to their kids about marijuana is to make it safe for them to communicate. No matter their age, your child will not feel as willing to talk to you if they don’t feel safe. Ask questions instead of making judgments, have conversations, not lectures, do not get angry with them, and do not demonize marijuana or the friends your son or daughter may have who use marijuana. Seek to educate your kids about marijuana. Don’t demonize it.
- Talk about the facts. Discuss with your kids how marijuana has harmful effects on the brain, particularly on young people’s developing brains. Talk about how marijuana is harmful and, with chronic use, can even cause withdrawal symptoms. And ultimately lead to physical dependence and addiction. Talk about how marijuana use can adversely affect a person’s ability to deal with emotions effectively, how it can lower IQ, cause paranoia and anxiety, get one fired from a job, etc.
- Discuss the injury risks. In states like Colorado that have legalized marijuana, marijuana-related traffic deaths have soared. Driving under the influence of marijuana is extremely dangerous and can easily cause an accident. In addition to driving under the influence, people who are high on marijuana are more at risk of experiencing falls and other bodily injuries.
- Ask safe questions. Again, your son or daughter needs to feel safe talking to you, and asking questions is often the best way to achieve that. If they say, “I’m only smoking weed once in a while on weekends, so it’s not really a big deal,” respond with something like, “What degree of use would make it feel like a big deal to you?” Asking questions like these gets them thinking about risk factors, and it does so without condemning them or making them feel like a bad person. It opens the door to a conversation where you can get them to see that no degree of marijuana use is safe or acceptable.
- Discuss stroke and cardiovascular risks. According to a fair amount of independent research, using marijuana raises the risk of stroke and heart failure. According to Aditi Kalla, MD, Cardiology Fellow at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and the lead study author of a research project on this subject, “Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in these patients (marijuana-using patients), so that leads us to believe that there is something else going on besides just obesity or diet-related cardiovascular side effects.”
- Discuss memory loss risk. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is reason to believe that long-term use of marijuana can seriously impair memory. Not only does marijuana use impair memory in the moment, but these effects may be permanent in some people.
- Discuss the effect marijuana use has on brain development. Marijuana use is harmful at any age, but it would appear that marijuana use during one’s adolescence is particularly dangerous. That is because the effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain are unique. When young people use cannabis, it can have a very damaging effect. Quoting one particularly impactful study: “Disruptions in brain development related to neurotoxic effects of regular marijuana use could significantly alter neurodevelopmental trajectories by not only changing neurochemical communication and genetic expression of neural development, but causing a toxic effect on brain tissue. Such a marijuana-related effect on white matter and gray matter structures (e.g., changes in myelin, axons, and synapses) could have widespread implications for healthy brain development from childhood to young adulthood on subtle cognitive functioning and success in daily functioning.” Young people need to know just how dangerous marijuana is. It’s not likely their peers are telling them information like the cited data above.
- Talk about peer groups. Who your son or daughter spends time with can make all the difference in whether or not they’ll experiment with cannabis. Peer pressure is one of the most frequent factors in a young person’s first exposure to marijuana. Talk to your kids about who they’re spending time with, and do everything you can as a parent to get them around positive social and peer influences instead of negative ones.
- Talk about the societal implications of using marijuana. Even though marijuana is now legal in some states, that does not make it “okay.” It is still against virtually all company rules to be under the influence and on the job, and a failed drug test can lead to immediate termination from one’s place of employment. Furthermore, even in states where marijuana is legal, marijuana is still illegal for minors, and it’s illegal to drive under the influence. Using cannabis products can get one in quite a bit of trouble, and your son or daughter needs to understand that.
The above 12 items are just a brief look at what parents can do when it comes to talking to their kids about marijuana. There is no question about it, you can make a difference in whether or not your kids experiment with cannabis. But if all else fails and your child does start using drugs despite your best efforts to prevent that from happening, please call Narconon today. We will help your child get their life back.
Reviewed and Edited by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP