Children in the legal cannabis era: Tips on talking with your kids

Photo by Cannabis Training University (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

CANADA—Now that it is legalized, Health Canada encourages parents to talk with their teenaged children about cannabis and its effects. Drug Free Kids Canada has prepared a guide for parents called the Cannabis Talk Kit. It informs parents about the drug itself and gives advice on effectively speaking with their teens.

Firstly, it is important that parents establish goals in their ongoing conversations about cannabis with their teens. That way, parents can keep track of how the conversation progressed and identify how to improve their techniques in speaking about this subject.

The guide encourages open-mindedness and recommends parents imagine the conversation from the teen perspective. That may increase understanding and empathy between the two parties and make the communication more effective.

Being calm, relaxed and positive is another recommended tip in the guide. This will present a less confrontational setting that may encourage more open sharing. Along with positivity, parents should not attempt to lecture their children to change their habits. This could result in rebellion or even internalizing a sense of shame that could have damaging psychological effects.

It is important to hold the conversation in a comfortable setting; the guide advocates for a more casual approach rather than scheduling a formal meeting. This method could reduce apprehension and discomfort. Parents should also be aware of their unconscious body language because gestures such as finger pointing and arm crossing can signify a closed mindset.

The Drug Free Kids Canada guide recommends parents choose words carefully to foster dialogue, including focusing dialogue in terms of their own feelings, rather than making the conversation about the teen’s behaviour.

Further along in the guide, the association offers conversation starters and advice when certain questions or rebuttals come up from a teen.

Drug Free Kids Canada also offers further resources online, including a full version of the Cannabis Talk Kit and more questions and answers. Its homepage at DrugFreeKidsCanada.org has links to this guide and advice for parents geared towards ensuring a safe environment for their children.