As a followup to yesterday’s Coming Clean with our Kid about Cannabis, the Splimm Team would like offer a few pieces of advice about having the talk. Everyone’s conversation will be different, based on the child/ren you have, your family dynamics, how much you share, and how comfortable you are approaching the topic. When the time is right for you, consider these five tips:
Be well informed, honest, and confident in your stance.
This will build trust between you and your children. You want to be able to answer any of their factual questions, and you want to be clear about your family’s values and how they relate to cannabis. If you don’t have an answer, own up to it and talk about ways you might find that information together. Share personal experiences as candidly as is appropriate. Authenticity goes a long way, and children have finely-tuned BS detectors.
Emphasize that responsible cannabis consumption by adults is safe.
Your children need to know that your safety and theirs is a priority and that you wouldn’t do something that would put any of you in danger. Talk about moderation and healthy practices. Encourage them to learn about their developing brains and why they should wait to partake.
Reassure your children that all of the choices you make are okay for your family.
Even if they’re not inline with the prevailing cultural paradigm. Be clear that “different things work for different families.” This tends to be a catchall strategy in our house, and it is a surprisingly effective (and truthful) way to handle sensitive topics. Depending on your circumstances, this is also a helpful way to begin a conversation about why cannabis isn’t something we talk about at school.
Use language that your children understand and that you’ve used around other topics of family conversation.
“Mindful’” is a word we say a lot, so it was a helpful way to talk about responsible cannabis use. “Be your best self” is another phrase we like. So we say, “You can use cannabis and still be your best self.” Always identify terms children might not have heard before and try to relate them to something familiar. When children can activate prior knowledge, they have a much easier time assimilating new information.
The most important thing is to watch, listen, and respond to your child.
All children are different, learn differently, and process the world around them differently. You know your child best, and you can read her/his nonverbal cues better than anyone else. Give your child the “just-right” amount of information. Enough to ensure understanding and alleviate the anxiety of not knowing but not too much so as to be overwhelming or confusing. Remember, you are your children’s hero, their protector and guide. As long as they know they are loved and safe, and as long as you take the time to listen carefully and explain patiently, this conversation will be one you all remember positively for a long time. It might even serve to bring you closer as a family.