During the 2016 election cycle, a number of states finally gained access to recreational cannabis. Others, at the very least, legalized medical marijuana use. But despite the medical benefits, limited side-effects, and its widespread popularity, cannabis continues to be taboo. It’s even more taboo when you have children. While “wine culture” is perfectly acceptable in mom circles, it’s much harder to talk about cannabis use. It’s even more complicated when you’re raising children in a world with plenty of conflicting information (and disinformation). So how exactly do moms come of the “cannabis closet” to their kids?
According to a 2017 study, 52 percent of Americans over 18 have tried marijuana at some point in their lives. The poll also found, according to NBC News, that out of the respondents who have tried pot at some point, 65 percent are parents. In fact, the same study found that "people who are current marijuana users are slightly more likely to be parents, at 51 percent." So for many moms, it starts by never making cannabis "taboo" in the first place. Openly discussing your use, and its benefits, is one way to get a leg up on the people who would label you "irresponsible" for using. Others might not start using cannabis until their kids are older, though, so it can sometimes be a bit more challenging. And the conversation is further complicated if you live in a state where it hasn’t been fully legalized. I currently live in Colorado, which was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use. I know the law will make it much easier for me to disclose my use to my son as he gets progressively older.
Still, when you're preparing to discuss cannabis use with your kid(s), you'll want to have an idea of what to say to such curious young minds. That's why I asked a few other moms how they went about disclosing their cannabis use to their kids. Feel free to use their answers as a guideline for when and/or if you decide to sit down with your own kids to have “the talk” (or, frankly, many talks... preferably accompanied by donuts).
“We told [our daughter] with a book called Stinky Steve Explains Medical Marijuana when she was, like, 2. We own [the book], and so we've read it a few times since and some of the others in the series as well. We mainly just keep it an open conversation, the same way you would alcohol basically, and she really doesn't question it. We have read [our son] the same book, but we've had it since he was born so he's had pretty constant knowledge.”
“My kids are too little to understand or ask, but we are open about our usage and never try to hide it from them. They don’t see us smoke or pack bowls, but we talk openly. When they are old enough we’ll let them know that, in moderation and if you’re being responsible about it, it’s fine.”
“Same as alcohol. ‘It’s a grown up drink,’ or 'it’s a grown up indulgence' [is how we discuss it with] the little ones. My 10-year-old knows what we like about it and how it may affect people. [They know] that, like alcohol, there’s an age restriction and the purpose of the restriction. He also knows it’s used medicinally.”
“We talk, at the very least, about it being legal here and that we're in favor of it, though we don't do it around them. But it isn't stigmatized."
“My son was in third grade when I started medical marijuana. I actually had to explain the stigma to him and prepare him for the fear people have of it. He hadn’t learned too much in school about it up to that point. When he saw how much cannabis helped me, he couldn’t understand why people thought it was bad or why the government wouldn’t legalize it. I explained it by comparing it to his die-hard love of the New York Islanders. He’s obsessed and thinks they’re the greatest team ever, but really there’s no concrete [evidence] to believe [they really are]. And there are people all over the country who would fight and argue that their favorite team is the best team. It takes something really significant for people to change their deeply ingrained beliefs.”
“It's just a part of life for my son. We call it ‘Daddy's medicine’ sometimes. Once he pointed and laughed and said, ‘Daddy, you're stinky like a skunk!’ I use it too, but far less often since I don't rely on it to treat a medical condition, so it goes unnoticed.”
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.