Parents 2018-10-31T13:48:59+00:00

Keep it open

Cannabis. It is a topic that concerns many Canadians and one that is especially hard to navigate as a parent. Despite what many believe, parents can have more influence over their kids than they might think.
Parents who have an open dialogue with their kids and who provide balanced information about the effects associated with cannabis can help them make positive and healthy choices.

What should I know about cannabis?

Taking off the blinders

An open dialogue

Talking with teenagers is a difficult task to navigate. As a parent, you might be met with resistance or indifference or perhaps simply dismissed altogether. Below are a few tips and tricks on how you can engage with your teenager in a way that will promote open dialogue.

How to start the dialogue

  • Be clear about your goals – Before you start the conversation, make sure you know what you want to accomplish.
  • Keep an open mind – You need to make sure that your teen feels safe and not judged during your conversation.
  • Put yourself in your teen’s shoes – Consider the tone and the approach you would want your parent to take.
  • Find a comfortable setting – Propose a casual setting, somewhere you know your teen feels comfortable. Their room, the family room or on a walk. If you announce a sit-down meeting or bring this topic up in front of other siblings, you may be met with resistance.
  • Be calm and relaxed, and don’t lecture – This topic is difficult and uncomfortable to approach with your teen. What they do not want is to be judged or lectured or ridiculed. Ensure that you are presenting the facts and allowing them to talk.

Active listening

We all think that we listen. But do you actually hear what the other person is saying? Here are some ways to engage your teen in dialogue that will elicit a two-way conversation:
  • Ask permission – This one is important. Allowing your teen to feel some ownership in the conversation will ensure that they feel comfortable. “Are you ok with my asking this?” “Do you mind if I give you some advice?”
  • Try asking open-ended questions – This will elicit more than just a yes or no response. “Tell me more about…”; “Can you give me an example when…”; “What do you think?”
  • Let your teen know you hear them – Repeat back what you are hearing from your teen. “What I’m hearing you say is….”
  • Be positive – Using the language they use, asking for clarification, and thanking them for sharing. ‘’Thank you for telling me.’’

Source: Cannabis Talk Kit – Know how to talk with your teen, Drug Free Kids Canada

What else can you do?

Stay connected: Adolescence is a time when your child may want to pull away. Respect their independence, but stay connected at the same time. Build a strong relationship with your child by participating in activities with them and getting to know their friends. Having a healthy relationship will increase the likelihood that you can help them to make informed and safer choices.
Be informed: Your child may be learning about substances in school and through other parts of their lives. Be prepared with the facts about cannabis so that you can respond to questions they may have.
Focus on safety: Let your child know about safer choices when it comes to cannabis and work with them to establish limits and understand consequences. Be there to help even if cannabis is involved, such as if they need a ride because they don’t want to get in a car with someone who has used cannabis.
Be positive and supportive: Be ready to help your child find healthier coping strategies or professional help if needed.

Source: Cannabis: What parents/guardians and caregivers need to know – CAMH