Posted on April 27, 2023 View all news
Our society is normalizing marijuana use, and as a result, families are paying a heavy price. While we can never keep our children completely safe from marijuana, here are a few recommendations to help you effectively respond as a parent through this cultural crisis.
When we communicate clear, consistent messages with our children, they understand what behaviors are allowed in our home and what behaviors are not permitted. Families need to let their children know that using marijuana is an unhealthy behavior that will harm them and their environment and that no amount of marijuana (THC) is safe for them to use.
Children’s vulnerable brains are at an alarmingly high risk for addiction and mental illness. The more frequently a child uses marijuana products and the higher the concentration of THC in those products, the greater their chance of experiencing adverse health outcomes, like developing cannabis use disorder (CUD), cannabis-induced psychosis (CIP), and cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS).
Also, inform your children that the marijuana industry runs campaigns to normalize marijuana use that targets youth to ensure life-long users. Many addiction-for-profit businesses, like the tobacco industry, use these predatory marketing practices. They purposely advertise products to attract young users who want to appear cool and hip, and they promote flavored vapes and candies to mask the foul taste of marijuana and to provide adequate delivery devices to conceal use from parents and educators.
Parents become alarmed when they find out their teen is using marijuana because this can lead their children down an unhealthy path. Parents are at risk of reacting with fear-based messages that may bring shame to the teen.
Examples of shaming are:
- How could you use marijuana after everything we’ve taught you?
- Only losers use marijuana.
- You are stupid for using marijuana.
- You’ve ruined your future.
- This is embarrassing to me. What will our neighbors think?
Instead, we recommend using kind and caring language like:
- I’m concerned that you are using marijuana.
- I understand that using marijuana may seem fun, but it will harm you, which concerns me deeply.
- Your health is essential. We need to seek professional help.
Don’t Argue or Negotiate.
There are no negotiations for your child’s health. It’s your top priority. Take the time to listen and connect with your kids. We recommend validating and summarizing their feelings and statements but disapprove of false information. Consider utilizing our website’s Every Brain Matters resources to provide science-based facts. We recommend printing our pamphlets and having them around the house, like in the kitchen where the family gathers.
Remember that media campaigns have bombarded our children with pro-pot propaganda, and you will not change their minds with arguments. If your children are trying to convince you that a bit of marijuana won’t hurt them and that it’s their medicine, they are manipulating you. At this point, it’s best to walk away from the conversation and tell them clearly and kindly that you do not support them using marijuana.
Example of listening and connecting: “I understand that you feel marijuana is not harmful, especially since well-funded campaigns relay this misinformation to increase profits. But I know marijuana is dangerous. I read science-based facts through a community called Every Brain Matters, formed by families who have experienced the devastating consequences of marijuana use.
Establish and Hold Boundaries
A home with firm, healthy boundaries is a sign of good parenting.
Children want to know:
1. Who’s in charge?
2. What are the rules?
3. Will those rules be enforced?
It’s challenging to know what boundaries may work for your family. We recommend attending the Every Brain Matters Climbers meetings to connect with professionals and other families who have learned how to establish and maintain boundaries in their homes.
An example of a healthy boundary: Your health is our top priority, so no drugs are allowed in our home. We will randomly drug test you to ensure you are not using drugs. If you are tempted or pressured to use drugs, or if you do use drugs, please always come to us and let us know so we can support you better.
Drug Test Your Children
Drug testing children is a controversial topic. Some families will be against this technique, but the Every Brain Matters community recognizes that our children are at significant risk of using marijuana more than ever. Families need resources to keep their children safe since legislators are passing policies that promote industrialized THC that give a more prominent voice to misinformation regarding marijuana. Also, drug testing incentivizes children not to use marijuana and provides a way out of situations where they are being pressured to use it. To learn more about drug testing your children, please stay tuned and sign up for the Every Brain Matters newsletter.
Give Consequences, Not Punishments
If your child is using marijuana, please don’t ignore it. This self-destructive behavior needs an active response, a consequence. When a parent implements a consequence for a child using marijuana, it sends a strong message of love and commitment to their health. The child then has the opportunity to take responsibility for their unhealthy behavior. When parents don’t give a consequence, it sends a message that the parent thinks the child is incapable of change, which lowers their self-esteem. Remember that an appropriate consequence will cause some emotional discomfort, which is necessary to implement growth.
Example of a healthy consequence: “We are concerned about why you are harming yourself by using marijuana, so we are going to talk to a counselor to get more support, and we are going to manage your phone until we are sure you are not using marijuana anymore.
Forcing a child to comply and utilizing fear to get them to behave is considered a punishment. Punishments usually damage relationships and disconnect children from the family unit.
Examples of punishment: yelling at them, telling them they don’t deserve something, making them stay in their room, or physically, verbally, or emotionally abusing them.
Your actions mean more than your words. It’s difficult for families to know the proper response to a child using marijuana. Ignoring harmful behavior can perpetuate the problem.
Getting professional help and attending parent support meetings, like the Every Brain Matters Climbers meeting, are actionable steps in the right direction.
Families can do everything right and still experience the devastating effects of marijuana. The Every Brain Matters community is committed to empowering families with support and resources to improve the chances of keeping children safe from marijuana.
Aubree Adams is the director of Every Brain Matters and an alumnus of the Cornerstone Community in Houston, Texas, where she learned parent-driven recovery tools.
Learn more parenting resources and attend our support meetings here.
If you have questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks a lot for your work. The information you share is very important to us here in Brazil. There is a very strong lobby to make Brazil the biggest cannabis grower in the world.