The National Institute on Drug Abuse released a study that indicated that marijuana use has risen during the past five years for teens in eighth, tenth and twelfth grades, possibly because of relaxed views of the drug’s risks. Respectively, 7 percent, 18 percent and 22.7 percent used the drug in 2013. But what does this mean for your child, especially if he is smoking pot? How can you effectively talk with him about his behavior?
Under the best of circumstances, communicating with your adolescent poses certain challenges. They are learning, growing, exploring and maturing into adulthood. While they depend on you to safely navigate these difficult years, starting these conversations can prove to be uncomfortable. If he is already smoking pot, then you will likely face further difficulties in talking to him. Even so, the following tips can guide you as you strive to keep the lines of communication open with your teen.
Bring up examples of the dangers of drug use – You do not need to directly address your teen’s pot use but can talk about news-related incidents or even a teen friend who might face legal problems due to drug use while driving. Be sure to mention the legal issues, including the possible danger of seriously injuring or even killing someone.
Maintain open conversation – Hold regular and frequent conversations with your child so that he knows that you are available to talk about almost anything that interests him. If you sense that he is upset about something or dealing with an emotional topic, provide encouraging support and care.
Connect with your child’s friends – Research shows that teen drug use increases when his friends also use drugs. If a young person feels isolated from peers, he might also start using drugs. Talk to your children’s friends and get to know other parents to help you keep on track with what they are doing.
Instill a “no-questions-asked” policy – Think about implementing a contract that allows your child to call you at any time of the day or night if he needs a ride because someone else has been drinking or smoking pot and plans on driving. However, do not give your child free reign to act irresponsibly.
A Special Note
How should you handle it if you previously smoked pot yourself, and you aren’t sure how much information to disclose to your child? While parents might initially want to hide their indiscretions from their son, the decision lies with each person on a case-by-case basis. If you did use marijuana, you have the advantage of speaking from your own experience, which might give you more authority on the topic. You can share how you learned from your mistakes and provide solid examples of the related lessons. At the appropriate age, you might also need to address the topic of medical marijuana and the possible benefits and risks of use.