It’s a sad but true fact that marijuana has become the most popular drug with junior high and high schoolers. Statistics show that it’s not at all unusual for children to be offered the opportunity to try it sometime during their teenage years.
Although you probably knew this, it becomes much more personal when you find out your own teen-aged child has tried marijuana. You’re in complete shock. You just can’t believe your teen has become part of these statistics.
What now? Should you punish your child? Or would that only cause them to become dishonest about what they do? Though, if you stay too cool and don’t do anything, could it send the wrong message?
How can you make the right response?
7 Tips to Help You Address Your Teen’s Use of Marijuana
1) Don’t be quick about punishing
Take a deep breath and assess your teen’s risk. Are they happy, well-adjusted, and connected to the family? Or do they have a history of substance use and troubling behavior? If your teen isn’t at high risk to continue using marijuana, your best approach is keeping the lines of communication open.
2) Strengthen your connection
When your teen feels understood and cherished, they’re less prone to keep secrets from you. Look for ways to stay connected. Chat while you do things together. Make it clear that they can come to you at a moments notice if they feel pressured or tempted to use marijuana. The more a child feels anchored to their parent, the less peer pressure will affect them.
3) Take time to listen
Ask your teen how they felt when they used marijuana, why they may have smoked it, and if they think it would harm them. Often teenagers think they already know all the facts about marijuana, but they may still have some faulty information. Ask them what they know, listen without interrupting, and sort fact from fiction.
Do research together with your teen. Explore what marijuana is, how it affects a teenager’s developing body and brain. Investigate in what ways marijuana contributes to depression, anxiety, and even cancer. Use images, like brain scans, to drive home the point to your child that they are not Superman. And emphasize that marijuana is a mind-altering and habit-forming substance.
Explain what impact these effects can have on their interests, their goals. Illustrate what could happen to that scholarship, to that dream job, or to getting their driver’s license.
5) Express your concerns
You’re their parent. You care about them. Speak from the heart. Convey your concerns with kindness. But don’t treat the issue of marijuana use lightly. Make your message clear. State your expectations, simply and to the point. You may not think so, but your opinions and expectations matter to them.
Though, if your teen’s marijuana use escalates, don’t hesitate to set firm boundaries. It’s your responsibility to keep them healthy and safe. That’s non-negotiable.
6) Be an example
Model healthy ways to unwind. Check yourself and see if you always grab that glass of wine or that bottle of beer to relax. Consider what that may teach your teen. Don’t underestimate the power of parental example.
If your teen asks you that dreaded question about if you ever smoked marijuana, don’t lie. If you did, disclose the facts, how it impacted your life, and emphasize what you’ve learned. What if your teen feels that since you smoked it, you don’t have the right to say anything about them using it? Point out that you made a mistake in the past and don’t want your children to repeat it.
7) Don’t imagine a one-time conversation will be enough
Your teen is facing a real danger. If you haven’t already had discussions with them since their pre-teen years, you need to start right now and don’t let up.