4/20 Day: How NOT to Talk to Your Kids About Weed

Jeanne Sager

marijuanaDid you check the calendar this morning and groan? It's officially April 20, aka 4/20 day, aka the day when every parent sits down and thinks, "Oh, crap, how do I talk to my kid about smoking weed without sounding like a doofus?" Don't worry, Mom and Dad, you're not alone.

As the support for the legalization of marijuana widens, it's getting harder and harder for parents to have this talk. Because, let's face it. You might say, "Sure, legalize it," but as it stands, it remains an illegal, mind-altering substance. And the vast majority of parents still don't want to find their kid with a joint in their hands or the cops on their doorsteps.

There are plenty of "how-tos" on talking to your kids about pot, but here's what you really need. A walkthrough how NOT to talk to your kids ... because then you WILL sound like a doofus. And it might well backfire on you. So don't do any of the following, m'kay? 

Act Like You're Their Friend: There are times when the parent and buddy roles blend, but this is not one of them. It's one thing to tell your kids that you'd like them to feel comfortable talking to you if they ever think about smoking a bowl with a friend. It's another to find your kid in the basement with her buds and yell, "Pass the bong!"

Overshare: This isn't Facebook, your kids don't need to know every intimate detail of your own teenage years and your own teenage indiscretions. You don't have to lie to them if they ask if you've ever smoked pot; kids deserve honesty. But oversharing the whys, the whens, and the hows will backfire on you big time when you turn around and claim, "But, you know, it wasn't very good for me, and you shouldn't do it." Be honest, but edit yourself!

Lie: See above, kids deserve honesty. The day they find pictures of you from your teen years with a suspicious "cigarette" in your hands is the day you lose their respect -- at least if you've pulled the whole "Oh, noes, I never did that, ever! Swearsies!"

Ignore Your Own Preachings: You're an adult. You may indulge once in awhile. That's none of my business, or that of your children. But let's be honest, dude? Your kids know what that smell is and why your eyes are glassy. "Do as I say, not as I do" didn't work with your parents; it won't work for you.

Freak Out: If your kid has tried it, it's time for a big talk, but it doesn't mean they're going to end up as a crackhead living on the streets. At least they won't if you don't overreact. Over 75 percent of all Americans who use marijuana never use harder drugs. So TALK to your kids, openly, honestly. Explain the risks of smoking pot -- especially the legal aspects and how they apply to their immediate dreams of driving a car or going to college. Focus on the here and now because that's ultimately what teens care about.

And now that you're all stressed out, some good news. Most kids aren't smoking weed on 4/20 day or any other. Only about 6.7 percent of teens 12 and up have smoked marijuana. But it doesn't hurt to nip it in the bud (no pun intended).

Have you talked to your kids about pot? What are your best tips?

Image via warrantedarrest/Flickr

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