Parents have to be the rudder when it
The Role of a Parent in a Shifting Culture
By Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Lamperti Counseling & Consultation
October 22, 2014 marked the issuing of medical marijuana cards, including “hardship cultivating” permissions, to your neighbors and mine here in Massachusetts.
As of April 2014, 23 states in the United States have legalized marijuana for some level of recreational and/or medical use.
According to well-known researchers, such as The Pew Research Center as well as votes cast at the polls, over half of the US population favors ideas like legalization of marijuana and decriminalization of use and possession.
Conversely, just over half polled indicated that they would be bothered by public use of marijuana. Many argue about issues like the “gateway drug” issue, increased use in children and such as encouraging a culture of “burn-outs.”
Marijuana has been around for a very long time. There is a considerable amount of research about this substance. Issues have been studied such as it relates to treating; nausea and vomiting, HIV/AIDS, pain, neurological problems, cancer, dementia, diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, Tourette syndrome and others.
Marijuana (Cannabis) is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, meaning, it is in the schedule classified as “the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” ~DEA Drug Schedules
While adults debate these issues, vote on them and conduct research, and laws change, families…parents, are left with the tall task of how to handle the real-time/real-life impact of views on marijuana with their children.
In order for parents to address this issue in their home, as it comes up or ahead of the curve, parents need to carefully analyze their own opinion, experiences and beliefs about marijuana. The same needs to be done with topics involving other drugs (prescribed and illicit), alcohol, sex and any other important issue that faces your children.
Back to my opening sentence, about licenses being issued for “hardship cultivating” and buying. In real-time, what does this look like for families? I can tell you first-hand, based on some of the work I do in my private practice.
· The child may become naturally inquisitive about the parent’s new interest in plants.
· What should the parent call the plant?
· At what age is it obvious to the child what kind of plant it is?
· Is it a secret?
· What if mom/dad has a “card?” Is it a secret then?
· Mom/dad is smoking parts of that plant. Is that a secret?
· Mom/dad is making “special butter” with parts of that plant. Can I use the butter? I wonder what will happen if I eat the butter?
· What should I tell my friends if they come over and ask about the plant, or the butter?
· Mom/dad is smoking part of that plant and they make me go outside. I’m tired of having to go outside every day after school.
· Mom/dad is smoking part of that plant and I breathed in some of the smoke and now I feel funny. What’s happening to me?
· Should mom/dad be driving me after she/he smokes?
· Mom/dad looks/acts different after they smoke. It makes me feel uncomfortable. They have a “card” though.
I could go on and on about what this issue brings into my office, and not just from “those” people, but from children like yours and children like the children that your children are best friends with.
Alcohol is an enormous problem and drugs even more so. But this issue of marijuana is on such a fine line because it falls into so many opposing categories depending on the person and the circumstances; potentially good for you, potentially bad for you, illegal, legal, right, wrong, secret, open, shameful, entitled….
This is my concern. Set aside all of the controversy and look just at the impact within the family. Study after study shows that parents are the most influential force on their children when it comes to beliefs, morals and values.
I implore each of you to think this topic through, and think it through again and again. Just because a law has been passed, or because licenses are being given out, or because people can legally “light up” and partake of the psychoactive and physiological effects does not mean you as a parents have think a certain way. You are the rudder in the turbulent sea of the culture. Just because “most” people (more than 50%) are doing it or believe in it, doesn’t make it right, or at least we can say, it doesn’t make the matter a simple one.
Just a few points to remember;
· It is shown again and again that parents have a much greater influence on their children’s belief system than parents give credit to.
· The longer a child goes without being exposed to drugs and alcohol, the less likely they will be to develop their own addiction at a later time.
· The longer a child delays experimentation with drugs or alcohol the more likely they are to avoid addiction at a later time.
· Studies show that a child’s brain continues to develop well into their 20s. Exposing developing brains to foreign substances, including drugs and alcohol has consequences that are not fully understood, but common sense dictates that a developing brain should be given the best possible chances for full and healthy development.
· There are many answers to every problem. To see a drug as THE answer to a problem is very short-sighted and indicates low level thinking, NOT the kind of thinking we want to instill in our children.
May you be blessed by many opportunities in the car, around the dinner table, and lots of others to experience joy and connection to your amazing children!
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Lamperti Counseling & Consultation
Cape Cod Moms