Adults Using Cannabis around Teens

Parent Q&A

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  • My spouse works long hours, is physically active and in good health. He enjoys drinking and smoking weed on occasion. I do not enjoy weed and I have a health condition that is exacerbated by alcohol so I don't drink except very rarely and very moderately because otherwise, I will have painful symptoms. Because of this if my husband is having beer or wine or drinks after work he is drinking alone. Also, I grew up around a lot of stoned hippies and an alcoholic stepfather so being around stoned or drunk people when I'm not is unpleasant and frightening to me. My husband drinks a beer or two after work and I don't mind that. However, periodically he will get stoned or drink too much and I really hate it. He will also do this when he is hanging out with our teen and that just sends me through the roof. Last night, I was doing some chores in one area of our home for a few hours and when I returned they were looking at old photos on the computer. After a few minutes I could tell my husband was high by his exaggerated laughter and responses. He denied it at first but then admitted it. He was also drinking a vodka based drink. I didn't say anything at the time but I was furious.  This morning I confronted him on it and reminded him that we had agreed that he would not drink or be high around our teen. He gave me a bunch of excuses and basically said that I am being unreasonable. What do you think? Is it ok to be buzzed around your teen if you're at home and it's late at night and there is another responsible adult around? I hate it but maybe I'm overreacting due to my past experiences? Thanks for your input. 

    I would not want my teenage son to be around when my spouse is high or drunk (if that ever happened). I would be as angry as you. To me, this is not being unreasonable---it is being a good parent.

    I do understand that these are personal opinions. But, in your case, at the very least I feel that your spouse should respect your strong feelings on the matter. I do not think that you are overreacting in any way.

    I think people draw the line in different places but for me I would find it unacceptable. Also this is the type of thing that can really hurt relationships so it is important to really hear each other and find an acceptable middle ground. 

    If you husband made an overt agreement with you not to be "buzzed" or "high" around your kid, then, to me, the breaking of that agreement is the problem, and you are NOT over-reacting about that. How can there be trust and integrity in your partnership, if agreements are not respected and adhered to? Don't get me wrong, there are times when agreements may need to be renegotiated, but that means there is a straightforward, respectful conversation about doing so. Renegotiating does not mean one person does whatever they feel like, regardless of whatever they agreed to in the past. Perhaps mediation with you and your partner would be helpful? The breaking of agreements is definitely something that I would take extremely seriously. Especially when the well-being of one's child is involved.

    I absolutely think it’s inappropriate to get high around a teen whether there is another sober parent or not. Pot is not good for teens and smoking it around them just sends the wrong message. It’s not the same as having a beer or glass of wine in front of them at dinner. 

    This is a difficult situation. I'm sorry you are experiencing it.  I highly recommend the book "Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change." Please don't take this recommendation to infer I am saying your spouse has a problem with alcohol or substances - I can't know that. However, you are concerned with his use, and your concern deserves to be taken seriously. The book provides information on how to understand / put into perspective alcohol and substance use, how to cope with other's use, and how to influence change through an evidence based process of goal setting, positive communication, and reinforcement. Every couple and family is different, with different values and levels of tolerance. It's important to find what is right for you and your family. You might also consider the support of a marriage and/or family therapist.

    Personally, I would not want my spouse under the influence of alcohol or substances around my teens. I'm not a teetotaler; my spouse and I both enjoy alcohol responsibly in social situations. You have described a situation which is causing strain on your marriage and family life. That deserves to be examined without judgement.  

    I wish I would have read the book when my now young adult child was experimenting with alcohol and weed. He's well beyond experimentation and into dependence now, which is very difficult to turn around. The book is more geared toward the situation you have described.

    It's not okay. Trust your gut. Daily drinking is alcohol abuse. Drinking and smoking in front of your kid is setting your kid up to abuse alcohol and drugs.

    I agree with you. Dad is setting an example for teen. Evidence is teen use of alcohol and drugs can have deleterious effects on brain development. Not healthy for your son. Good luck. Will be difficult for your spouse to accept that his enjoyment of cannabis or alcohol may adversely affect your son. Might require professional counseling. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Other parents let kids smoke pot in their house

Nov 2010

Against my better judgement, I allowed my 15 year old daughter to attend a party at a boy's house. I do not know the boy but kids she knew were to be there as well. She revealed later that it ended up being only her and 3 boys. The kids had gathered with the intention of getting high. My daughter says that the parents in the house knew the kids were doing pot. This was her first time smoking, and she did not get too much in her system. We are cracking down to keep her from doing this again and discussing other self-destructive behavior that has come up recently. Now what to do about the parents in this house? We are not going to allow her to go to their house again. Do I confront them? I believe what my daughter told me. The parents did know what was going on. Are they clueless or what? Anon

This is such a tricky situation, and I'm sure you'll hear from a lot of people. My personal strategy with things like this is to try to stick to the facts as I know them, and avoid confrontations or judgements. In my experience, teenagers, as much as we love them, are not always so forthcoming with the truth, so if you're getting the story from your daughter you may be missing critical details. I'd call the parents, tell them what your assumption was (that your daughter was going to their house for a party with the following people), tell them what your daughter told you (that she and three boys were smoking pot in their house) and see what they say. Their reaction will tell you a lot about whether they allow pot to be smoked in the house. Even if they say they think it's fine for kids to smoke in their house, you can calmly tell them your preferences are different, and then hammer out the details with your daughter (she's not going over to that boy's house again.) Good luck. I find all this so challenging with my own teenager. But I am always surprised (and heartened) to find that what my daughter tells me ''MOM, everyone is doing it...'' is often contradicted by the parents themselves. anon

Before they were seniors in high school, when my girls went to anyone's house I made it a point of meeting one of the parents when I dropped them off. If they were going there after school or if another parent was transporting them, I would call ahead of time to make sure a parent was going to be there to supervise. At 14, I would even ask other parents I knew if it was a new friend. My daughter got involved in a situation once, but she ended up being in the middle of a troublemaker and her best friend. No drugs, no drinking. Parents all watched out for each others kids. Its OK to be overprotective - just dont smother. Pot is still a drug and its use by minors will always be against the law. Your daughters HS campus probably has a campus officer. Ask them what to do about the parents. You may want to call them and do a Ralphie's mom thing and say, ''Do you know what your son was doing the other night?'' Good luck. got them to adulthood

Parents openly smoking pot with teenagers

March 2010

My son is now a Junior and is finally taking school seriously and getting decent grades. He's always been more of a social person and we've always been impressed with the array of friends he has. More recently, he has been spending Friday and Saturday nights with friends in the Berkeley Hills - hanging out, jacuzzi etc. and I learn they're all smoking Pot.....and the parents smoke, too! I don't understand how parents can be so irresponsible. The message my son is getting is that 'it's OK to smoke, it helps relieve the stress'. (I think there are other ways to relieve stress - like physical excercise etc) The problem for me is my husband smokes from time to time (never in front of me or the kids), but my son found his stash last I'm struggling with how to deal with this. Any suggestions? Anon

What if you called the parents, told them of your concerns, and said that if they insisted on toking up while your kid was visiting, he wouldn't be allowed to visit any more? They have a right to do what they want in their own home, but you have a right to keep your kid away from it if it bothers you.

That's one thing. The other is something we did to immunize our kids, so to speak: make jokes about stoners, e.g. '''How many potheads does it take to change a lightbulb?' 'I don't know, how many?' 'Uh . . . [dazed look] ... how many what?''' We never tried to enforce an absolute prohibition on using it, or talk about it in ''reefer madness'' terms; that would be ridiculous in Berkeley. But we made it clear that there was nothing exotic, rebellious, or exciting about it, it was just another way to get stupid, something that lots of people did from time to time but that no one with an actual life would do frequently. So far our kids (26 and 20 years old) have shown little interest in it. John

Honesty might be something that comes to mind. Currently pot is legal for medicinal purposes in California and it may become legal in an upcoming ballot. Talking openly about it is not the same as smoking openly in front of your son. This indeed may be extremely difficult, but it is probably not the most difficult thing you will need to speak to a teenager about. This is an opportunity to share some basic information, cautions, and find out what your son thinks about all this.It will undoubtedly ease the hurdles of other upcoming conversations and let your son know he can come to you to talk about things he needs to ask about. Otherwise the value lessons he is getting right now is from the hot tub parents of his friend. share your concerns, and angst

We are aware that our teenage son and many of his friends smoke pot. We have discussed this with the other parents. Some parents have opted to be a ''safe house.'' Meaning - they would rather have their kid smoking pot in a safe place, instead of hanging out in park or some other place where they could get into trouble. Some of these parents have prescriptions and smoke pot themselves. They are all responsible adults, who own their own homes and are working professionals (accountants, lawayers, etc...)However, these parents never smoke pot in front of the kids. Tolerating is one thing, but parents don't need to hang out a get stoned with/or in front of their kids friends. You should discuss your feelings about smoking pot with the friends parents. They should understand. I know other parents drink wine/beer in front of kids, or smoke cigarettes. In my opinion, smoking pot is no different. All things in moderation. Of course, it's best to teach your teen that these things are not for kids, etc.. But, not all teens accept this logic. Our college age son wasn't interested in smoking pot(until college), but our younger son is - every kid is different. anon

Our 13-year-old caught my husband smoking pot

Dec 2009

My husband smokes pot a few minutes a couple of times each week. He doesn't get 'stoned' but seems more mellow after smoking. He is discrete and up till now neither of our teenage boys had any knowledge of their father's behavior. He drinks a couple of beers each day and takes no other substances. I don't smoke and I drink a glass of wine each day.

My husband was smoking pot out on the back patio at 3am Sun am when the whole house was sound asleep (he was up late cooking for a party on Sunday). For whatever reason our 13 year old got up and saw my husband from a distance. My 13 year old said nothing at the time to his father but reported to me what he had seen the next morning.

My 13 year old says smoking is a disgusting habit and is fearful of an early death for his father. He was angry at me for 'allowing' my husband to smoke. I did not correct his perception that his dad was smoking tobacco. I did correct his perception that I could control my husband's behavior.

Sunday evening my husband and son talked about the incident and made a deal, my husband said he would stop smoking if my son would not tell his brother. I registered my displeasure upon hearing of this bargin from my husband. A: he doesn't plan to quit and B: I hate that he's made his own son a co-conspirator.

After hearing me out my husband then agreed he had to come clean to both sons, but hasn't figured out what he is going to say. He has smoked pot in this manner for years, so is unlikely to quit. Does anyone have an advice as how to handle this situation? anon

We dealt with a similar situation with grandparents who are regular pot smokers and talking to our children about it. It is a very difficult situation given what the kids are taught in school about marijuana and that fact that it is illegal. I would recommend being totally honest - anything less and then the kids don't trust you when they find out what you omitted or misrepresented.

After we spoke to our kids we had Grandpa have an independent conversation with them where he explained that it was an adult decision and not something they should choose as a lifestyle, etc...

It is a very complex issue and we tried to liken it to having a glass of wine versus being drunk all the time and needing moderation. At the end of the day I feel better about being honest with the kids though I am no less conflicted in how I feel about habitual use and have done what I can to communicate what a confusing situation it is for me as well - Good luck. be honest