It may seem as though their eyes glaze over whenever you attempt a conversation of more than two minutes. You may feel that no matter what you say or do, your children will do what they want. But take heart, the truth is that you have more power than you think. Your actions, words and interactions with your children can greatly influence their views and the decisions they make. So never give up, or give in to the feeling that things are out of your control. The old adage ‘it’s never too late’ is especially true when it comes to your involvement with your children. Kids want and need parental involvement and guidance, especially when they are navigating new and potentially dangerous territory. They might not know how to ask for it, or be grateful at the time, but don’t let that stop you.
Easier said than done, right? Practically speaking, how does one get started when broaching the subject of marijuana use with their children? Good question. Here are 7 tips to get you started (click on each item for more):
Educate yourself about marijuana and the potential consequences of using it (this site is a great place to start).Take the What About Weed Quiz together with your kids to test your knowledge (and theirs) about the drug.
Begin open and frank discussions about marijuana use. Start by talking generally about the drug and its impacts. Eventually talk about situations where your child may be offered marijuana. Practice with them what to say and how to avoid using it.
Get their feedback. Listening is as important as speaking. Ask your child point blank if he/she is using or has tried marijuana.
Nurture your teen. Use encouraging and positive words when speaking with your teen. Notice, and be sure to tell them, what is good about him or her and what they are doing well.
Developed by the Search Institute®, ‘Developmental Assets are 40 common sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible, successful adults’. It is widely believed that the more “Assets” young people have, the less likely they are to use marijuana (source Halton Youth Survey 2012/13).
Monitor your teen’s whereabouts. Always know where they are going, who they are going with and what they are doing. Tell them what time they must be home, and make sure you hold them to it by giving consequences for coming home later then the agreed upon time.
Be a positive role model. Remember you are the most important influence on your child’s life and the decisions they make. Don’t use marijuana yourself, and let your child know that you don’t want them using it either. According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the US Department of Health, research shows that marijuana use is much less prevalent amongst youths who perceived strong parental disapproval for trying marijuana than for those who did not.
The part of the brain that controls emotions develops faster in a teen than the part of the brain that controls rational thought. This means young people are more likely to take risks, such as experimenting with substance use without fully thinking about the potential outcomes of such decisions.
Check out some youth websites
There are many excellent resources available to parents which will help guide them through this process. We encourage you to take a look at the resources available in this section for further information to help get you started.
- Search Institute
- Our Kids Network
- The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA)
- Drug Free.org