What To Say When Talking To Your Teen About Marijuana

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There is no script when talking to your teen about about marijuana but here are some helpful talking tips provided by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids at drugfree.org:

Your teen says: "I know, I know. You've talked with me about this before."

You can say: Here's why:
"I know we've had conversations about drugs before, and I'm sorry if you feel like I'm being a nag." Taking responsibility and acknowledging a teen's feelings is an effective way to reduce resistance.
"I want us to be able to discuss topics because I love you and I want to help during these years when you're faced with a lot of difficult choices." This statement shows compassion for what they are going through.
"My concern is that things are changing quickly with some states legalizing marijuana, and that's why it's important that we talk about it. Would that be okay?" Asking permission is essential to open communication. Be prepared for a possible response of "No, I don't want to talk." If this happens, ask why. Then have them suggest a time they'd be willing to talk.


Your teen says: [nothing]

You can say: Here's why:

"Do kids at your school talk about marijuana? What do they say?"

"Do you know anyone at school who smokes pot? What do they say about it?"

"Have you ever been offered marijuana?"

If you find it hard to get your teen to start talking, try asking questions about their friends or classmates. It may be easier for them to open up about someone other than themselves. This can lead to a more open communication. 


Your teen says: "I'm only doing it once in a while on weekends, so it's not a big deal."


You can say: Here's why:
"I'm happy to hear that this is not something you do on a regular basis. The fact is, using any drug can be harmful at your age because your brain is still developing." Even though a parent may want their child to be completely abstinent, it is imperative to point out the positive- that this is not something that has become a daily habit. This allows the teen to feel like they aren't a bad person or disappointment. 
"I heard you say that you don't think it's a big deal." Repeating what you've heard is an example of reflective listening.
"What would make it feel like a big deal to you?" This gets your teen to think about the future, what their boundaries are around drug use and what would make it a "big deal". It will give you insight into what is important to them. If use progresses, and some of these boundaries are crossed, you can then bring that up at a later date.
"What are some things that keep you from using pot more often that you already do?" This is a question that makes your teen think about the reasons why they don't want to smoke more often. It allows them to think about what pot use would interfere with if she did it more regularly.

Your teens says: "Would you rather I drink alcohol? Weed is so much safer."

You can say: Here's why:
"What is going on in your life that makes you feel like you want to do either?" This question can easily throw you off course. If it rattles you, posing a question back to them is a good buffer while you think about your answer. Your response may still be met with "nothing" but even that can lead you to give another supportive statement such as "I'm glad to hear there isn't anything going on that makes you want to drink or smoke, I also know that it's unrealistic to think that it isn't going to be offered to you."
"Honestly, I don't want you to be doing anything that can harm you- whether that's smoking pot, cigarettes, drinking or behaving recklessly. I'm interested in knowing why you think weed is safer than alcohol." Reminding your teen that you care deeply about his health and well-being, and expressing genuine curiosity about their though process, is going to help him open up.

Your teen says: "Marijuana is a plant. It's natural. How harmful could it be?"

You can say: Here's why:
"Not all plants are necessarily healthy or good for you- think about cocaine or heroin or even poison ivy." This helps your teen rethink their point.
"I understand that, and I am not suggesting that you're going to spin out of control, or that your life as you know it is going to be over. I would just like to redirect you to the idea that when a person is high, their judgment is not what it ordinarily is and that can be harmful." This statement points out that you are reasonable and are not using scare tactics. It also redirects your teen back to your goal of helping them understand the harmful side effects of marijuana.
"People I know who use alcohol or pot on a regular basis are using it to numb themselves or avoid feelings." This brings some personal perspective into the conversation, and lets your teen know that you see the effects of substance use in your own life.
"I would much rather you find healthy ways to cope with difficult feelings that turn to drugs. Can we brainstorm activities?" Here, you're showing concern, asking permission and promoting collaboration in thinking through healthy alternatives- like yoga, reading or sports. 


Your teen says: "But it's legal in some states; why would they make something legal that could hurt me?"

You can say: Here's why:
"It's legal at a certain age, like alcohol. I think that people in these states hope that by 21, they've given you enough time to make your own decision about it. But, let's explore your question in more detail, because it's a good one. Why would states make something legal that could be harmful?" Letting your teen know that this is a valid question is important to them being receptive to your answer. Also, you may want to repeat the question with sincere curiosity. 

"Let's look at alcohol; it's legal, but causes damage, including DUIs, car accidents and other behavior that leads to jail time. Alcohol can also cause major health problems, including liver problems and car accidents."

"Cigarettes are also legal, even though they are highly addictive and proven to cause birth defects and cancer. Just because something is legal and regulated doesn't make it safe or mean it isn't harmful."

Alcohol is a great example of a regulated substance having severely harmful side effects.


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