5 Steps for Canna-Parents to Talk About Cannabis with Their Children

Photo courtesy of: healthvermont.gov 

As I tried to usher them all back inside. My son said: “See, toldja…She out here smoking.”

My husband and I have the wonderful charge of raising 4 little humans to adulthood. We are responsible for teaching them everything they need to know. In a world like this, that is both scary and empowering…enough to make a mother wanna light a joint. And in fact, I do, almost every day because Cannabis is a part of my self-care. 

When my children were smaller, it was easy to put them down for naps and slip into the garage or even on the porch, virtually undetected. As our family shifted homes and grew older, consuming Cannabis in secret became more challenging. We were faced with the notion that our children would one day need to know the truth about Cannabis and many other things, pleasant or otherwise.

The First Conversation with My ChildrenAbout Cannabis

The first Cannabis conversation with my children , came randomly about 3 years ago. Our oldest child was 9 years old, and she and I were on our way to the store. My husband had just passed us in the doorway, home from work, smelling like DANK! My daughter must have seen him smoking through the window, because when we got in the car, she immediately commented:

Mom…why do you and Daddy smoke? It’s bad for you.”

Just like that…no official sit down, no warning…

Photo courtesy of: Google images 

I had to think quickly, and answer truthfully. So, I did what any parent caught up in their own shit would do; answered a question with a question:

What makes you think we smoke?”

My daughter came back with no hesitation, “I saw Daddy smoking on the porch. That’s what you do when we go play or go to sleep. Sometimes you smell like smoke.” 

Officially caught

The Second Conversation with My ChildrenAbout Cannabis

The next time I was ambushed about smoking, it was by our seven-year-old son, only a month ago. I had managed to slip by him and the smaller girls while they danced to music in the living room. I thought I was safe and stepped out onto my front lawn to enjoy a clip. About three minutes later, I heard one of the kids call for me (they weren’t even thinking about me until I stepped out). 

Suddenly all three smaller children emerged: seven, six and four years old. I put my joint down at my side and swallowed my smoke, choking back tears as I tried to usher them all back inside. My son: “See, toldja…She out here smoking.”

Foiled Again! 

I thought I was discreet enough…

What I Always Thought the Conversation Would Be Like

I always assumed that Cannabis conversations with my children would take place at a dinner table, one late evening when the kids were preteens. We would converse over the D.A.R.E visit they had in 6th grade and we would carefully and expertly be able to explain what Cannabis is and isn’t. 

Until then we would have to be clever and hide our therapy of choice. But then again, parents that have a glass of wine don’t always hide their wine. Imagine if the conversation about Cannabis with our children was just as candid as if we were drinking a glass of wine. 

I was stuck with both sensations and my husband and I couldn’t agree on what to say or do before those occurrences. Facing them head on was the only choice we could make. 

5 Steps for Conversation Between Canna-Parents and Their Children 

Photo courtesy of: Instagram.com

That first-time car conversation with my daughter was a long ride, even though we only went around the corner. I explained to her what Cannabis was by identifying Cannabis as an herb. Since I already work with herbs and medicine, she took it pretty well. I had to differentiate between tobacco cigarettes and cannabis rolls. 

We discussed everything from the smell, to the effects and the social implications. Our conversation ended with a firm reminder to, “keep this business in the house,” to avoid any outside issues. For my son and smaller daughters, I didn’t have to go into too much detail, but I repeated the same “herbal” information to them. 

This applied much more seamlessly when I made medicated treats for a client. My kids wanted to know why they couldn’t have a taste, and I was able to explain that the treats had medicine infused in them for grownups to use. They didn’t ask as many questions after, but I know that won’t last for very long. 

To avoid the stuttering of “grown up explanation“, I compiled some steps on how to broach the subject of cannabis with children . My husband and I still have so much to learn and even more to teach, but we hope this will help another parent!

  1. Get knowledge and understanding/ Don’t be ashamed!

Educate yourself on cannabis, it’s forms and effects, health benefits and possible risks. We know Cannabis is one of the safest herbs on the planet, but we still have a responsibility to be well informed for everyone’s health. Understand your own use and methods so that you can explain to your children when and if the time comes. If you’re a medicinal user (even recreational has its medicinal advantages) your children should know that. 

Unless you are neglecting your parental duties on a consistent basis to smoke weed, please don’t be ashamed. Our children learn shame from us, first. This goes hand and hand with understanding. Understand your reasons so you can help your children understand as well

2. Don’t sugar coat the truth

Children get older and eventually interact with the world without us. There are some subjects that should be approached with caution, but more importantly with absolute truth. Our children should know that Cannabis is an herb, used for medicine for people who range from very sick, to mildly ill.  The world is aware of this but still arrests, convicts and jails at the discretion of the state and then federal courts. The older children get, the more truth they will need to hear.

3. There is more than one way to consume Cannabis.

Kids hear about or witness someone smoking and automatically associate smoking with death and suffering. They should know that smoking Cannabis has risks but that it doesn’t cause death. Smoking isn’t the only way to experience the herb. Cooking, ingesting oils and or tinctures, teas, and lotions exist for therapeutic use. Not to mention, Cannabis can be used in different industries that have nothing to do with physical consumption. Research and talk about these methods with your kids

4. The effects of cannabis are not the same as using alcohol or other scheduled   substances 

For older kids, this definitely needs to be addressed. They should know that their brains can be affected by ANY substance they consume, including food and drinks. They should also be aware of how! Cannabis can cause hyperemesis (nausea and vomiting spells) in some individuals with sensitivities. Cannabis can also adversely affect the developing brain of a young person, specifically with memory and decision making, after immediate use and/or after long term use. While the effects aren’t “as bad as” those from consuming things like alcohol or hard drugs, they should still be discussed.

5. Talk to me/us first, Get rid of the taboo, When you’re ready!

Outside of basic educational instruction, we try to approach new world subjects as soon as we believe they may have an effect on our household. Our hope is that our children will come to us if they are ever faced with a decision about something they don’t understand. To help facilitate this, we try to cultivate an open ended, non-judgmental discussion based on age and maturity, for heavier subject matter. Being honest with our oldest daughter has allowed us to break the ice on other important subjects as well.  We are also cultivating an atmosphere of trust.

Last Thoughts

One very important aspect that has come from these Cannabis conversations with our children , is that there is no anxiety or secrets in the house surrounding Cannabis or any other subject. Will it stop everything “bad” from happening? Probably not…BUT…it will keep us on our toes as parents because now we know that we have done our best to equip our children. 

Wiz Khalifa, one of my favorite stoner parents
Photo courtesy of Google Images

We must evolve as we are tasked to keep up with the ever-changing world. That same world will continue to change around our seeds. It is our responsibility to give them the proper tools to curate their world experience without doing too much damage. Don’t be ashamed to be a Cannabis parent that gets it DONE! 

A conversation a few weeks later with our seven-year-old went like this:

Son: “Mom…did you know Jay’s mom smokes?”

Me: “She does? Oh ok.”

Son: “Yeah she does…but she smokes brown stuff in the backyard (probably a blunt). You and daddy smoke too!” 

Me: “We do? What do we smoke?”

Son: “You smoke herbs!”

Me: “Yes that’s right. And Miss C does too! Other grown-ups use herbs for medicine too!” 

Son: “Yeah, she does. Her and her friends.”

Me: “Ok. She should be allowed to because she is a grown-up. That’s ok. Did you have fun?”

Son: “Yeah…can I spend the night next time…blah..blah…blah… blah…”

It could all be so simple…

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Written by: Dom Hart

Edited by: Veronica Castillo

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