I grew up in the ’80s, right in the middle of the War on Drugs, “Just Say No,” and at a time when many people referred to cannabis as “pot” or “weed.” Smoking pot was something to do in the backyard at a party, in the shadows with a pipe or bong, with friends and strangers. It was ritual. It was bonding. But it wasn’t even remotely thought of as medicine.
Fast forward to today. We call the plant by its correct name: cannabis. We talk about cannabis’s health and wellness benefits, especially for women. And now many of us are navigating how to talk to our kids about what was once taboo.
Small Pieces of Marijuana Information Work Best
My own kids are 11 and 14. My daughter finds it amusing that her mother “markets that weed thing.” My son is weary of hearing about “all that cannabis stuff.” They both roll their eyes when I go into my “cannabis is medicine” spiel, reminding them that they shouldn’t try it until their brains are fully formed when they’re 25 years old. “We know, Mom,” they say.
These conversations are a far cry from what I thought I’d be saying to my kids about cannabis. I want to convey that cannabis is normal, natural and beneficial when used responsibly by adults. And remind them that marijuana is only administered to children with serious health conditions.
“You don’t need to tell them everything all at once, and it doesn’t have to be about you,” says Laurie Light, a cannabis educator and entrepreneur. Laurie consumes full-spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to stabilize her moods, manage PMS and get restful sleep. “It’s similar to ‘the sex talk.’ Give them small, digestible bits of age-appropriate information over time,” she advises.
Laurie also suggests viewing short, educational videos that explain the science of cannabis together to spark and further the conversation.
“If they are older, you can watch Sanjay Gupta’s “Weeds” episodes together as a family. Educating my girls about the truth of this plant and about my use is very important to me,” Laurie says. “I talk openly talk with my two teenage daughters about cannabis’s legality, it’s history, it’s medical properties and safety profile. I have taught them about the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis works in the human body.”
Plain Talk With Younger Kids About Cannabis
Stephanie Kerns is a brand representative for Lunchbox Alchemy, an Oregon-based edibles company, and is the artist/painter Vibrant Deity. She suffers from debilitating endometriosis. After many surgeries and extensive treatments in a pain clinic, she finally found cannabis and says it saved her life. She consumes hemp-derived CBD edibles in the morning and dabs strong THC extracts to relieve extreme nausea, pain and inflammation. This cannabis regimen means Stephanie was able to replace the 17 medicines she was prescribed for her condition.
“I’m open with my kids. I explain that cannabis is a medicine and also a vegetable. It can be eaten and juiced, and is very healing and nourishing,” Stephanie says, explaining how she talks to her children, ages three and five. “I also say that some people don’t understand what cannabis is, and that’s OK. I tell them that in our culture it isn’t studied or used in spiritual practices like it has been in other places for thousands of years, so most Americans don’t understand what it really is.”
Stephanie tells her children that at some point, someone might say something negative about “how mommy uses cannabis medicine. “I tell them that it is OK; everyone has the right to their own opinions even if it is not based in reality.”
Tips on How to Talk About Cannabis With Your Kids
Summing up the advice I’ve heard from numerous moms, consider doing the following when you talk with your kids about cannabis:
- Use age-appropriate content including educational videos, articles and books. Let their questions guide your conversations, but don’t shy away from starting the conversation about cannabis yourself.
- Don’t feel like you have to tell all, but don’t lie about your use of cannabis either. Honesty is truly the best policy, but be mindful about what you reveal and when can be more comfortable at first.
- Don’t use scare tactics or threats to try to keep your kids away from cannabis. Kids will, by nature, gravitate toward the mysterious or forbidden.
- Be matter-of-fact in your approach. The less of a big deal you make of cannabis, and the more normal and average it seems, the less of an issue your kids will make of it.
Says Stephanie, “Kids are going to learn one way or another, but if you take a scientific and educational approach they will understand.”
Laurie points out that as laws change, children should hear the truth from you, not get their information about cannabis from their friends.
Says Laurie, “If or when you’re ready, help end the stigma surrounding responsible adult use of cannabis, and tell your kids about your consumption and why it’s a healthy life choice for you.”
Photo credit: London Scout