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
robin (masshole Mommy)
11/3/2014 04:51:04 am
I don't even drink in front of my kids. My kids know what alcohol is and know that it should be consumed by a responsible adult.
11/3/2014 05:25:31 am
yeah we do not drink or do any of the other stuff. I want to set a good example to my children plus I have interest in doing any of them.
11/3/2014 06:16:15 am
I live in a state where marijuana is legal and while I am all for free to smoke, I still won't use it and won't encourage my kids to.
11/3/2014 09:48:15 am
We have talked many times with our children about drugs including marijuana and the effects in can have. I think it is important as parents that we set these examples of good behavior for our children.
11/3/2014 10:40:40 am
I do not believe in drinking in front of children. As for smoking not to fond of that in front of them either. I am all for medical uses, but in public around others is not the way.
11/3/2014 11:03:08 am
Wow I never even thought of kids in this picture, so concerned about the public... great article.
11/3/2014 01:54:31 pm
This is a big problem with my husbands history of addiction. I've never had an interest in drugs but he struggled for a long time.
11/3/2014 01:55:09 pm
I am like some of the commentors above... We don't even drink around the kids. They see their uncle drink, but that is it
11/3/2014 02:22:34 pm
I'd like to just go back in time to Little House on the Prairie!
11/3/2014 02:50:01 pm
I'm so glad my kids are grown now! There seems to be so much more to worry about now!
11/4/2014 12:44:04 am
These are great points. I know where my close family stands on the issues, and we'll definitely be talking to the kids as they grow up.
11/4/2014 01:21:10 am
I pulled the boys out of school and began homeschooling for many different reasons. For my oldest, it was for fear of what he might get himself into. He has ADHD and ODD just like his dad did. His dad was a drug addict who died at the age of 30. I want better for my son. So the longer I can go without him being exposed to these types of things, the more I hope to keep him from becoming an addict himself.
11/4/2014 02:12:50 am
I am very open with things for my kids but I don't really even drink in front of my kids.
11/4/2014 03:58:57 am
Very interesting! Definitely something to think about.
11/4/2014 05:48:14 am
As a sibling to drug addicts, this is NOT a topic I am ready to cover sense I m very sensitive to it. I dont think it should be legalized, but that is my opinion.
11/4/2014 07:51:37 am
You bring up some good considerations for parents to think about with the impending change in the way marijuana is viewed and used. I'm not sure I should be deciding one way or another for any other individuals but am comfortable with my views and how I expose my children to the information (good and bad) about drugs and alcohol in general.
11/4/2014 09:18:05 am
Cultural norms come and go and vary with the seasons sometimes. Parents must set a standard and hold it.
11/4/2014 02:46:50 pm
I so appreciate the comments here. I had reservations about posting something like this. It is a big topic and I don't think legislators are recognizing what the implications are in our homes. My 14 yo son appreciates keeping up on my posts and I also had reservations about even telling him about this one. I appreciate that the replies here have been ones that I feel good about him reading.
11/5/2014 06:46:58 am
My opinions on these subjects have changed so much over the last few years. Having become a person who suffers nearly constant pain, I can now understand a person needing to use whatever product will alleviate that pain - even if it is medical marijuana. The conversations that may have to occur because of that are probably myriad and complex. I don't use it myself, but I've encountered those who do. It helps them manage excruciating pain, and I wouldn't deny them the relief. In the same token, I can't imagine explaining to my children why I was growing marijuana plants in a special garden.
11/11/2014 04:00:06 am
Education is everything! Don't be ignorant about the positive side of legalizing Marijuana for those whom it can greatly help medically. I have a younger brother who has struggled with severe epilepsy and vertigo since he was very young. Marijuana has helped him so much in many different forms. My two daughters know that what Uncle Nick uses is "medication" . They are 7 & 9 and know how bad smoking is in general & we talk about constantly how bad alcohol and drugs are. But we've also discussed that there are plants that grow that are used to make medicine in many different forms and they have learned to NOT be judgemental to anyone! Something a lot of adults still struggle with !! We are all so greatful that there is something besides chemically made pills to help my brother ♡ I will continue to fight for marijuana legilization in Massachusetts & everywhere so everyone is FREE to make their own decisions. Alcohol is such a terrible thing when abused and its legal.... come on people. Everyone has figured out how to "explain" to our kids what that is.... its no different. Educate yourself and your kids ♡♡ One love ♡♡ We are all human beings and deserve to live and let live ♡♡ November is Epilepsy awareness month and this is all part of it!! #teampurple #epilepsyawareness
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