What's the Best Way to Talk to Your Kids about Pot?
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What’s the Best Way to Talk to Your Kids about Pot?

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I don’t have any children—at least not any I am aware of—and sometimes I wonder if I would like to have kids. Other times I read articles—like the one in HuffPo via Next Avenue about talking to your kids about marijuana—and realize how complicated being a parent can be these days.

When a Stoner and a Joint Love Each Other Very, Very Much

When it comes to having quote-unquote talks with your kids, I know the sex one can be difficult and awkward for both parties, so much so that many parents avoid it all together. But at least sex is something parents expect their children to have at some point in their lives. The idea is to educate them on being responsible about sex, perhaps encouraging them to wait until they are older to engage (unless you are my mother, who told me virginity is something I should get rid of so I could start living my life).

But talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol is a whole different ball of hash. My guess is that even super cool pot-smoking parents would prefer their kids never pick up a bong—at least not until they’re out of college or out of the house. Not because smoking weed is so bad for you but because it’s isn’t so good for you either. Scientifically, studies have shown how marijuana effects the cognitive development of the teenage brain and experts argue that using pot before the age of 25 can stunt brain development (which explains the popularity of Justin Beiber). This can become a confusing conversation if your child has friends or classmates who have been prescribed marijuana or have been administered it by their parents for medical reasons, like epilepsy.  Arguments against waiting to toke are diluted when a peer is doing it and seems to be getting along just fine.

Saving Their Brain and Their Reputation

Socially, most parents don’t want their kids to smoke pot too soon (or at all) because they don’t want them making the same mistakes they did—even tiny, relatively inconsequential ones. We know the stupid things we’ve done high and the thought of our children smoking kind bud out of an apple and shot-gunning it into a cat’s mouth while trying to sing “Hotel California” in Pig Latin probably doesn’t appeal to most parents (although I’d love to watch a YouTube vid of it).

Knowing what we know now about marijuana use in adolescents, today’s version of “I learned it from watching you dad” would be the father’s response: “Yes, but I can safely smoke pot because my brain is fully developed. Getting high at your age may give you a poor attention span and a reduced overall verbal IQ and executive functioning.”

Just Say No…You Can’t Until College

So how should a parent talk to their kids about marijuana? There are some good tips out there but I suppose this depends on if you smoke weed yourself and if your kids know you smoke weed. But overall, demonizing pot is probably not the way to go. I’m not sure that route has ever been effective but I can pretty much guarantee it isn’t going to fly in today’s world of mainstream marijuana use. Besides, telling your kids to “Just Say No” is only going to ruin your street cred.

Perhaps the solution is to approach the pot talk like the sex talk. Acknowledge that pot smoking is something that will likely cross your child’s decision-making path and let the kid know where you stand on the idea of trying pot while still in high school. Throwing in stats on the effects of pot on the teenage brain may not win you any points but if you can encourage them to wait, selling it as something they can look forward to in college, then you might have a chance of getting them through most of their adolescence with brain cells fully intact.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.