Where do you start? What do you say? We’re here to help. Between legalization, increased normalization in pop culture and new ways of using (edibles, vaporizers, concentrates), it’s becoming more and more complicated to know how to address marijuana use with your kids.
Whether you are planning to discuss marijuana or other substance use, the following are keys to setting the stage for an effective conversation:
- Keep an open mind. When a child feels judged or condemned, they will be less receptive to the message. Try to project objectivity and openness.
- Put yourself in your kid’s shoes. How would you prefer to be addressed when speaking about a difficult topic? Try to remember how you felt as a teen.
- Be clear about your goals. Know what you want to get from the conversation.
- Be calm and relaxed. Approaching the conversation with anger or panic will make it harder to achieve your goals.
- Be positive. Approaching the situation with shame, anger or scare tactics will be counter-productive. Aim for curious, respectful and understanding.
- Don’t lecture. It will most likely lead to shutting down, tuning you out, anger or worse.
- Find a comfortable setting. Announcing a sit-down meeting will likely be met with resistance, while a more spontaneous, casual approach will lower anxiety (including your own).
- Be aware of body language. Finger-pointing and crossed arms are closed gestures, while uncrossed legs and a relaxed posture are more open.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a script for talking about marijuana, but there are some common arguments and questions that you’re likely to hear — and suggestions for how to respond.
They say: “I’m only doing it once in a while on weekends, so it’s not a big deal.”
You could say: “What would make it feel like a big deal to you?”
Why this works: This gets them to think about the future, and what their boundaries are. It will give you insight into what’s important to him or her. If use progresses and some of these boundaries are crossed, you can bring that up at a later date.
They say: “Would you rather I drink alcohol? Weed is so much safer.”
You could say: “Honestly, I don’t want you doing anything that can harm you. I’m interested in knowing why you think weed is safer than alcohol.”
Why this works: This reminds your child that you care about his or her well-being. Expressing genuine curiosity about their thought process is going to help them open up.