Portions of this post are from Partnership for Youth’s “Marijuana and Youth Health” handout
Talking about marijuana use during adolescence is important.
While the majority of local middle and high school students (80%) do not use marijuana,* experimentation with substances like marijuana, alcohol and tobacco during teenage years is common. Parents play a crucial role in preventing, delaying and reducing the use of these substances.
Local data show that teens who believe their parents approve of marijuana use are five times as likely to use marijuana as teens who believe their parents disapprove of marijuana use (65% versus 13%).**
Talk directly to young people, encourage them not to use, and help them make informed decisions. Some tips for parents include:
- Talk to your children. It is never too early to start to have an age-appropriate, non-judgmental discussion. Be clear and specific about your family expectations about marijuana use.
- Be a good role model. Not only do young people listen to what you say (even if they roll their eyeballs at you!), they watch what you do. Don’t drive under the influence, and don’t use marijuana around your children.
- Safely store all marijuana products. Some products, particularly edible ones like gummy bears or brownies, may appeal to children. Store all marijuana products in child-resistant containers and lock them away like you would any medication or cleaning supply.
Resource: Marijuana Talk Kit
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Marijuana Talk Kit includes facts on marijuana and its effects on teen brain development, common questions posed by teens and suggested responses, along with tips on keeping the conversation productive.
Download the free Marijuana Talk Kit from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids here
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids stresses that although there isn’t a script for talking about marijuana, there are a few common arguments and questions that tend to come up. Here are a couple of concrete examples they offer about how you could respond:
Teen says: “I’m only doing it once in awhile on weekends, so it’s not a big deal.”
You could say: “What would make it feel like a big deal to you?”
Why this works: This gets them to think about the future, and what their boundaries are. It will give you insight into what’s important to him or her. If use progresses and some of these boundaries are crossed, you can bring that up at a later date.
Teen says: “Would you rather I drink alcohol? Weed is so much safer.”
You could say: “Honestly, I don’t want you doing anything that can harm you. I’m interested in knowing why you think weed is safer than alcohol.”
Why this works: This reminds your child that you care about his or her well-being. Expressing genuine curiosity about their thought process is going to help them open up.
*In the 2016 Franklin County/North Quabbin Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 20% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders reported that they had used marijuana on one or more occasions in the 30 days preceding the survey. 80% said they had not used marijuana at all during that time period.
** 2015 Franklin County/North Quabbin Prevention Needs Assessment.