DAD: So what's going on at school?
CHRIS: Not much.
DAD: I heard your buddy Mark got into some trouble. What was that about?
CHRIS: Oh, nothing
DAD: Wasn’t it about smoking marijuana in the parking lot? I heard something from another parent at the soccer game yesterday.
CHRIS: Yeah, I guess that was it. It wasn’t anything big.
DAD: Why don’t you think it’s a big deal? Didn’t he get suspended from school?
CHRIS: Well, I mean the marijuana thing. It’s no big deal. It’s just a plant, an herb. It’s not like other drugs.
DAD: Have you tried it?
CHRIS: (pause) Well, yeah, just a couple times. It wasn’t any big thing.
DAD: Thanks for being honest with me. But I have to say I’m really disappointed to hear that. There can be serious consequences when you use drugs; and that includes marijuana. You’re putting yourself in danger and you could jeopardize your future.
CHRIS: Whatever, Dad. That’s just way over the top. Besides, you told me before that you smoked pot in college and you turned out just fine. So what’s the big deal?
DAD: I did use it, and now I regret it. Looking back, I can see that I was lucky that nothing bad happened to me. I’ve seen plenty of bad things happen to other people and I don’t want that to happen to you. It’s just because I love you. You’re much younger than I was when I tried it. The younger you use, the more damage you could do to your brain or your body.
CHRIS: Dad – it’s just a plant. Have you ever heard of anyone dying from a pot overdose? No, I didn’t think so.
DAD: Well, I’ve been doing some research and a lot has changed with marijuana since I was in college. It’s much stronger now and we know a lot more about how it affects the developing brain. The effects can be much more damaging. Not to mention, it’s illegal. And you’ve seen how some pot smokers turn out – their motivation goes out the window.
You could ruin your ambition and really mess up your future if you got caught using. You could also get kicked off the soccer team.
CHRIS: Dad, I’m doing well in most of my classes. Lots of other kids who smoke are doing fine too. I really think you’re blowing it out of proportion.
DAD: Studies have shown that marijuana can affect learning. You might not be having problems right now but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any in the future. There’s just too much at stake. The bottom line is that I don’t want you using it again. Okay?
DAD: I should have been clearer about this before. From this point on, we will not stand for any drug or alcohol use. It’s against our family rules. If you break the rule, you will lose your social privileges. Are we clear?
CHRIS: Okay, Dad, I get it.
What the Experts Say:
Talking to your teen about marijuana
Parents should state clearly to their pre-teens and teens that they would be very disappointed if they started using marijuana. Parents may also want to explain that marijuana use interferes with young people’s concentration, memory, and motor skills, and that it interferes with motivation, leads to poorer school performance, and can cause users to disappoint the people most important to them. All of this can be communicated in a loving way: “I love you and I want the best for you, so I hope you won’t try marijuana.”
Some parents who saw marijuana being widely used in their youth still wonder: Is marijuana really so bad for my child? The answer is an emphatic yes! Not convinced? Need more reasons? Read these:
- Marijuana is illegal.
- Marijuana now exists in forms that are stronger with higher levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient than in the 1960s.
- Studies show that someone who smokes five joints a week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.
- Hanging around users of marijuana often means being exposed not only to other illegal drugs, but also to a lifestyle that can include trouble in school, engaging in sexual activity while young, unintended pregnancy, difficulties with the law, and other problems.
- Marijuana use can slow down reaction time and distort perceptions. This can interfere with athletic performance, decrease a sense of danger, and increase risk of injury.
- Regular marijuana users can lose the ability to concentrate that is needed to master important academic skills, and they can experience short-term memory loss. Habitual marijuana users tend to do worse in school and are more likely to drop out altogether. Read more about the negative consequences of marijuana on students.
- Teens who rely on marijuana as a chemical crutch and refuse to face the challenges of growing up never learn the emotional, psychological, and social lessons of adolescence.
- The research is not complete on the effects of marijuana on the developing brain and body.