CONVERSATIONS FOR PARENTS
"But Dad, It’s Only Pot!"
A teen son and father disagree about the seriousness of marijuana use. Advice on discussing the risks of marijuana, your own past drug use and setting limits.
What the Experts Say:
Did Chris’s Dad make a mistake in disclosing his past drug use? It depends. Here’s some guidance:
•Take the temperature of your relationship. Is your child in a state of rebellion? Is your relationship currently in conflict? If so, you should wait for a better time.
•Consider the maturity of your teen. Will your teen use the information productively or will it give him license to take risks?
•Don’t be dishonest. If you are reluctant to disclose the truth, tell your child that now is not the appropriate time to discuss your past. Lying can hurt your relationship.
•Even if you didn’t experience any negative consequences when using, be sure to explain to your teen that you regret the choices you made. Use real-life examples of friends or family members who have suffered.
•Take initiative in getting educated about the dangers of today’s marijuana and other drugs. Much has changed in the last generation and the risks are much higher. We know a lot more about how marijuana affects a teen’s developing brain.
Other advice to keep in mind when you’re talking to your teen about risk-taking:
•Encourage your teen’s input. Listen to what your teen has to say and don’t make value judgments. Teenagers want respect as much as you do.
•If you haven’t done so, now is the time to set clear rules and consequences about drug/alcohol use. Explain them to your teen and regularly remind him of your expectations.
•Don’t expect everything to go smoothly. You have a teenager, and there will be conflict. Just remember to stay calm and loving.
The Transcript - A father has heard that some kids at school have been getting high. While this might be a good opening to have a conversation with his son about drug use, he’s wary since he has admitted to smoking pot in college…
DAD: So what’s going on at school?
CHRIS: Not much.
DAD: I heard your friend Mark got into some trouble. What was that about?
CHRIS: Oh, nothing.
DAD: Wasn’t it about smoking marijuana in the parking lot? I heard something from another parent at the soccer game last weekend.
CHRIS: Yeah, I guess that was it. It wasn’t anything big.
DAD: Why don’t you think it’s a big deal? Didn’t he get suspended from school?
CHRIS: Well, I mean the marijuana thing. It’s no big deal. It’s just a plant, an herb. It’s not like other drugs.
DAD: Have you tried it?
CHRIS: (pause) Well, yeah, just a couple times. It wasn’t any big thing.
DAD: Thanks for being honest with me. But I have to say I’m really disappointed to hear that. There can be serious consequences when you use drugs, even marijuana. You’re putting yourself in danger and you could jeopardize your future.
CHRIS: Whatever, Dad. That’s just way over the top. Besides, you told me before that you smoked pot in college and you turned out just fine. So what’s the big deal?
DAD: I did use it, and now I regret it. Looking back, I can see that I was lucky that nothing bad happened to me. I’ve seen plenty of bad things happen to other people and I don’t want that to happen to you. It’s just because I love you. You’re much younger than I was when I tried it. The younger you use, the more damage you could do to your brain or your body.
CHRIS: Dad – it’s just a plant. Have you ever heard of anyone dying from a pot overdose? No, I didn’t think so.
DAD: Well, I’ve been doing some research and a lot has changed with marijuana since I was in college. It’s much stronger now and we know a lot more about how it affects the developing brain. The effects can be much more damaging. Not to mention, it’s illegal. And you’ve seen how some pot smokers turn out – their motivation goes out the window. You could ruin your ambition and really mess up your future if you got caught using. You could also get kicked off the soccer team.
CHRIS: Dad, I’m doing well in most of my classes. Lots of other kids who smoke are doing fine too. I really think you’re blowing it out of proportion.
DAD: Studies have shown that marijuana can affect learning. You might not be having problems right now but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any in the future. There’s just too much at stake. The bottom line is that I don’t want you using it again. Okay?
DAD: I should have been clearer about this before. From this point on, we will not tolerate any drug or alcohol use. It’s against the rules. If you break the rule, you will lose your social privileges.
SOURCE: Parents: The Anti-Drug
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