Concerned Your Child Is Using Drugs? Write a Letter.
Yes, the old-fashioned pen-and-paper kind. A written letter provides an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings you might find hard to share in person.
So, you’re ready to have the marijuana talk – until your teen blindsides you with this:
But YOU smoked when you were younger.
Of all the questions and roadblocks you may face when trying to talk with your kids about marijuana, this one is arguably the toughest. The accusation – true or not – can rattle you and derail your conversation.
Let’s break this one up into three possible responses: what to say if you didn’t use marijuana when you were younger; what to say if you did, but you’re uncomfortable talking about it; and what to say if you did, and you are comfortable sharing that with your teen.
If you didn’t use marijuana:
If you didn’t smoke marijuana, you are in a great position to respond to this honestly and keep the conversation focused on your teen. Before responding, though, you might want to think about why you chose not to use, and then share that with your teen. Did you decide not to use because you didn’t want it to get in the way of activities you enjoyed? Did you simply not feel the pressure to?
Once you identify this, you can say something like, “Believe it or not, I didn’t smoke weed when I was younger. I knew it would interfere with swimming, something I really enjoyed.” Or, “I actually didn’t smoke weed when I was younger. It didn’t have a place in my life, and would have interfered with my schoolwork.”
Remember: if you didn’t smoke, you should be extra careful to keep an open mind, and not come across as judgmental. Your teen will already be vulnerable to comparing his or her decisions to your own, and keeping the conversation focused on your teen’s own experience is important. This way, your teen will stay positive, be more open and the conversation can continue to move in the right direction.
If you did use marijuana, but don’t want to talk about it:
Maybe you did use marijuana when you were younger, but don’t feel like you want to share this fact with your teen at all. That’s ok; this is a great time to redirect the conversation back to him or her. You can say something like, “This isn’t about me; we can talk about me and my past at another time. I want to talk about you right now. I love you and care for you, and I don’t want you to do anything that is going to interfere with your development or prevent you from being your best, healthiest self.”
If you did use marijuana, and you want to share that with your teen:
If you feel comfortable, you can talk about your own past use with your teen in a way that is productive and explains to your teen why you don’t want him or her to use. You can say something like,” I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t, and that’s why I’m talking to you about this. I will tell you that when I did smoke, my judgement was compromised, and the only thing that prevented me from getting into some horrible situations was luck.”
You can then add even more about why you don’t want your teen to use – like, “You may be thinking, you did it, and nothing horrendous happened to you. I just want you to understand that these are chances you may take, and they are just that: chances. A lot of harmful things don’t happen to you because of your ability to make clear decisions. And when you’re stoned, that ability is compromised.”
No matter what you share about your past or the words you choose to use with your teen, remember: it is important to show compassion, love and support to your teen – even when responding to a difficult accusation like this one.
For more tips on how to start a conversation about marijuana, skills you can use and additional examples of how to answer tough questions, download your FREE marijuana talk kit now at drugfree.org/MJTalkKit.