Cannabis and Our Kids
Getting a good night’s sleep can seem like a miracle for many women, especially moms.
Dealing with the stresses of day-to-day managing of a household, a career, relationships and the multifaceted lives of our kids can overwhelm us and lead to anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness and chronic pain.
We persevere because we have to. We love our kids, we love our partners, but we ignore the symptoms of burnout we may be experiencing. We continue to take care of others around us without stopping to take care of ourselves.
On top of all of this, you could add the stresses of aging. I had my daughter at 41. My husband and I adopted our teenage son when I was 50. Aging is not for the faint of heart.
Between postpartum depression, perimenopause, and menopause, I’ve had my share of physical stressors that have compounded the stress of everyday life. No wonder women like me often reach for wine or another adult beverage in the evenings to decompress, wind down, and mellow out.
‘But what about the kids?’
I think I’m a good mom. I’m a better mom when I’m well-rested and not experiencing chronic pain from arthritis in my neck. Using cannabis as a sleep aid has helped me tremendously, but it also brings up a lot of questions as a parent:
Do I tell my kids, and if so, what do I tell them? How can I reconcile doing what is legal in the state where we live but illegal federally while telling my pre-teen daughter and teenage son not to do drugs at all?
Right now, my kids know that I have a few clients with cannabis-related businesses. I’ve explained to them the legal issues around cannabis and pointed out that I’m not selling the plant itself or handling it as part of my business. I’m marketing cannabis companies, products and services, all legitimate businesses in legal states.
My son knows what cannabis is and was exposed to it in his “previous life” pre-adoption. He says he has no interest in using it. He finds it amusing that I’m in the cannabis industry, and he always gives me a knowing smile when the subject comes up.
My daughter isn’t 100% sure what cannabis is. She does know that drugs are bad since several grade school programs told her so. I’ve asked my son not to talk about his knowledge of drugs around my daughter simply because he is not able to properly communicate the information to her.
I recently spoke with a client of mine, who runs a traditional, non-cannabis smoke shop, about parenting with cannabis in the house. I asked him how he handles using cannabis around his kids. He has two young daughters under 10. He told me that from the start, he explained to them that cannabis is a medicinal plant, medicine for grown ups.
“We don’t make a big deal about it,” he says. “We don’t treat it like it’s anything out of the ordinary.”
He admits that he leaves smoking accessories around the house in a casual and normal way like you might leave a bottle of wine on the kitchen counter. But he keeps the cannabis safely out of reach.
When I have any in the house, I keep it in a locked box.
We need to talk to our kids – when they’re ready
I think normalizing conversations around cannabis is important – not just amongst adults but with our kids as well.
At 4 years old, my daughter knew that “Mommy loves wine and Daddy loves beer.” Someday, responsible cannabis use will sound just as normal.
We can tell our kids the facts: that cannabis is scientifically proven safer than alcohol overall but still alters your senses and impairs your brain function. They should avoid it until their brains are fully formed, waiting until at least 21. And that once they are 21, they can choose to consume cannabis legally – medicinally, recreationally or both – in 28 states plus Washington DC.
I want my kids to be informed and to know the law of the land as well as the rules of our house and to obey both. I will continue to speak to them about the medicinal benefits of cannabis and try to explain why the laws around cannabis are the way they are and why they must change. Open communication is key.
At the moment, my kids haven’t directly asked if I use cannabis, and I’m not offering that information… yet. But I think explaining the medicinal benefits of cannabis and modeling responsible use and behaviors around it can speak volumes.
|Aliza Sherman is founder of Ellementa
Cannabis was a part of my life before having children, so I knew I was never going to try and hide it from them. School programs continue to mislabel marijuana usage which can make it hard for parents to explain why they use. My husband and I have always referred to my use of cannabis as medicine, but when my eldest started asking questions I was a bit apprehensive to tell him the truth. Luckily, he took it really well, and now that he knows I’m a user we’ve been able to have real conversations about the dangers and effects of it.