Disclaimer: This post tackles some heavy subjects that you may or may not agree with politically, religiously, or socially. The purpose is not to pass judgment, but to simply open up the channels of communication with your child to spur a rational discussion. This post is sponsored by #GoodToKnow, but the opinions are all my own.
Doesn’t it feel like the children of today have more “worries” than we ever did as a child? In hindsight, I fully remember walking to the 7-11 near my house as a small child to purchase treats. I remember finally being deemed “old enough” to responsibly cross the busy street outside my neighborhood solo. I remember giggling with neighborhood friends over the sketchy bum that (literally) lived inside a giant tree in the abandoned lot next to said 7-11. I remember solo play, away from the watchful eyes of my parents. Some may say that it was a different world back then (and I agree that, in some respects, it was!) and that “bad” things didn’t happen as often as they do now. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. All I know is that I wouldn’t have traded the experience of independent play for anything in the world. It was what I needed, and my mom was smart enough to recognize that and raise me to have these experiences safely.
As much as I try to be the mother that my mom was (is), I often times find myself having to have different discussions with Vivien than what I got at her age. I mean, let’s be serious, I fully remember my dad bringing our first TV that worked with a legit remote control (rather than the dial knob) into the house – yet my 4-year-old can unlock my smart phone and Kindle, pull up the Netflix app, log in to her own individualized profile, and select what show she would like to watch - all by herself. This past weekend, she told me to “post my selfie to facebook for all my friends to see.”
As much as we may fight it (or embrace it!) it really is a different world.
The other day, we were running an errand as a family and we had to make a pit-stop to grab some cash at the Rite-Aid near my house. As you may know, we live in Colorado, where retail marijuana was legalized back in 2012 and retail sales began in January of 2014. Now don’t stop reading, because I promise you, this post won’t suddenly take a political turn for the worse. Directly next to the Rite-Aid, a brand new cannabis store is under construction, and I turned and made a comment to Eli about the progress of the “pot shop” and how quickly it was coming to fruition.
Later that night, it got me thinking about how to broach the subject of responsible retail marijuana use with my child in the future. While neither my husband nor I personally partake in marijuana, it is very likely that my kids will be faced with it sometime in the future, in some aspect. I know that Eli and I both enjoy alcoholic drinks (extremely responsibly) either with dinner, or socially, while sometimes in the presence of the kids, and retail marijuana could potentially become as widespread and common as it is to see Daddy holding a beer at a Super Bowl party.
Just think: no generation since the prohibition days have been privy to witness a substance go from being illegal, to legal. That’s mind boggling to me, and comes hand in hand with so many additional responsibilities or “talking points” to teach children how to be responsible, even at a young age. I want to be prepared to talk to my child about anything, and I know that the day is very near when she asks me what store is next to Rite-Aid. You see, she’s obsessed with recognizing logos. Homegirl can proudly spot a Chick-Fil-A from miles away. She begs me to stop the car at every single Target bullseye we pass (and let’s be honest here, I usually oblige with that one.) She knows we go grocery shopping at Sprouts, and that she gets new (ridiculous looking) cat leggings at H&M.
So that night, I went home and mentally made a list of talking points of how I’d like to broach the subject once it comes up. (I also have a mental list on “where babies come from” along with a slew of other topics.)
1. Share relevant facts and discuss how it relates to them:
- Right now, the retail sale of recreational marijuana is legal in only four states: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. While laws about consumption may vary from state to state, both states recognize it as a substance that is reserved for those 21 years of age and over, and it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, or partake in it under the age of 21. Now how do I broach that point to my child? Simply discussing that it’s an “adult” substance will suffice if you’re having a talk with a smaller child. The older the child gets, the more this point can be embellished upon. You can even use it as a teachable moment on discussing democracy, and voting, and how something once illegal became legal based on that state’s majority vote.
2. Avoid using blanket terms:
- Kids are very literal. Avoid using blanket terms such as “bad” or anything else that they may construe differently than what you intended. Communicate with your child what the shop on the corner sells, just as easily as you’d do if they asked you what the liquor store down the street sells. (Did you know that in Colorado, you have to actually buy alcohol from the liquor store? Coming from California where you could find anything you want at your local drugstore, it was a weird adjustment for me.)
3. Keep the communication line open for the future, and evolve your discussion as they age:
- If you flippantly tell your small child that “pot is bad” and change the subject quickly, they may not feel comfortable asking you questions about the subject in the future. Strive to have an open conversation about it, that leaves them comfortable to approach you with more questions in the future.
While I realize that opinions about the subject mentioned here may differ, the fact of the matter is simple: retail marijuana is a legal substance in the state in which we currently reside, and being prepared to handle this topic calmly and respectfully is important.
One of the best ways to keeps kids from using retail marijuana is for parents to educate themselves enough to have a factual, yet open and honest conversation with their children. GoodToKnowColorado.com/Talk is full of useful information for adults to do just that, such as tips and tools to start talking to kids about marijuana so they can make healthy choices themselves. With holiday break right around the corner, it’s a great time to have an open and honest conversation.
The points I mentioned above can/should ideally be used for any topic that your child may question, whether it be religion, or sex or drugs. Am I alone in wanting to be prepared for how to handle these topics as they arise?
If you’ve had a similar discussion with your child, I’d love to hear any tips or tricks; or please tell me in the comment section if you’d change or add anything to my mental (now technically, written) list above.