My dh has a chronic disorder (not life-threatening, although if untreated it could be) and has started using cannabis as a treatment supplement. It's legal here for medical use and he has a prescription, card, etc. and is under a doctor's care. When he got the prescription, his doctor suggested we tell our 14 year old that he is using it. She said our dd would eventually find out anyway, and it's better to be upfront about it. We still somehow feel a little hesitant, so I'm coming here for ideas and brainstorming.
We have had a lot of talks with her about drugs, and our line on pot has always been that it is medically useful for many people, but is a medicine like any other and should not be abused. We also have explained that it can have negative effects on teenage (developing) brains and would not be good for her. She knows that we feel politically that it should be legal but regulated like alcohol. She also knows that I don't use it because I have had bad experiences with it from teenagehood and that it makes me feel terrible. On dh's early recreational use we have been somewhat mum, although we've told her the truth that he never tried any drugs until he was an adult. All of this drug talk has been somewhat general, though, and not related to our current situation.
She is a great kid, sensible, takes good care of her body, and at this point seems to have no interest in using any drugs or drinking (she recently had a big surgery and wanted to be off her pain pills as soon as she could - she didn't like feeling under the influence). But she is only 14 and the hard years are yet to come. Unlike some teens, she still actually really respects us and still thinks we're pretty cool (no, she does! I swear!). She seems to value us as role models, so I guess we're worried that dh using weed, even for medical reasons, will make her think it might be ok for her to try it herself. We are feeling hesitant about the old "do as I say, not as I do" approach, since we've always tried to model behavior and values for her.
If you were in this situation, wwyd? Would you tell her, or try to keep it a secret for now? He only uses at night as a sleep aid, a very small amount (no one, including me, can tell when he's on it), after our toddler is asleep. But the teen often stays up later with us, so there is a possibility she could smell it or otherwise find out.
We would like to be honest with her, but this feels slippery.
Absolutely tell her. The more matter-of-fact about it the better. I've never taken illegal drugs, never tried pot, can't even handle prescription pain-killers but I support the medicinal use of pot certainly! I found it terribly ironic when a friend of mine, dying of cancer, was allowed to have a morphine drip in her home but would have gotten busted for smoking pot (which helped in a multitude of ways the morphine couldn't.)
Your DH has a medical condition and a prescription. He's using it exactly how it should be used. There is no reason to hide that from your child. If anything, it reinforces it's use as a medicine and not a fun drug. I think it'd be far worse to hide it and have her find out... then it's some dirty little secret about a drug that must be pretty exciting if it must be hidden.
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
Yes, I'd tell her if he was using pain pills (if she asked, I guess, not like a big announcement or anything) ... buuuut, we don't feel the need to tell her every time he takes a Vicodin for a sore back.
I think I am feeling a bit conflicted because his condition is somewhat benign and he's mostly using it as a sleep aid. DD knows about his condition and knows that it's not something extremely serious. The mj definitely helps him, and I am very supportive of him using it for this purpose (and obvs so did the doc or she wouldn't have prescribed it), but I think it would be easier to feel comfortable about talking to dd about it if it were for something like, say, chemo, or multiple sclerosis... something debilitating. Does that make sense at all? We have a friend with debilitating Lyme disease who uses it, and dd is aware of it and it's no problem. And if I were in any of your shoes, I'm sure I'd be giving me the same advice about it being the same as any other medication, so I do feel a bit hypocritical, I admit.
And yet, now that it's me and my kid, I feel conflicted. Can anyone see where I'm coming from?
There's also the issue of it being public information once I share it with her. On paper, I don't have an issue with everyone knowing about legal use, but in reality I know that even though we live in a liberal area, some people are less comfortable with the idea. Right now, it's private info between dh and me. Once we talk to dd about it, her friends might know. Her friends' parents might know. And I do think there is still some stigma, especially if it's for a condition that is not life-threatening. I don't want dd's friends parents to wonder if we're responsible people (I think it would be a silly thing to wonder based on this criteria, but I'm aware not everyone sees it like that).
We could tell her to keep it just in the family, but that would 1) imply that it's something taboo/illicit, which is what we'd be hoping to dispel by talking to her about it, and 2) be hard to implement for her. Not that she can't keep a secret, but teens talk about everything, let's face it. It would likely come out of her at some point.
So let's broaden this: If you were the parent of a teen who had learned her friend's parent was legally using (yes, small amounts, yes, bedtime, but maybe the parents would not know this) would it affect your perception of the parents? Your likelihood to entrust your child into their care - say for a sleepover? Especially if you didn't know them well -- we are still somewhat new in our community and don't have a large network of close friends.
14-year-olds tend to have a lot more exposure to this stuff than we parents like to think. I'm sure she's well aware of what the general population would think if she shared this personal information. I wouldn't be surprised if she can't already identify the smell. It's unlikely that she WON'T figure it out... do you want her to assume the worst or know in advance that it's for medical reasons approved by a doctor.
As for how I'd respond upon hearing that my kids friends had pot in the house, well, it would depend. Honestly, my kids don't stay over at homes of people we don't already know well. Usually, everyone stays over at our house! If I didn't know the circumstances, sure, I'd not want them at the house just like I wouldn't want them over at a home knowing the parents were drinking or on prescription drugs that made them unable to respond in an emergency situation. If I knew the circumstances, I'd talk to my kids about it and I might want certain precautions like knowing both parents would be at home and one not under the influence. I still wouldn't want it done in front of the kids especially if it's smoked. Basically, I'd need to know you well but honestly, we're pretty much the same about everyone our kids spend a lot of time with.
Ah, yes that is an issue for many. Personally even though we don't use I am fine with it being used medically or recreationally and favor legalization, so assuming no other issues with the user in question I would have no problems with my kids being around them. We have a neighbor who we know uses and he is great with my kids.
So I think it would depend on your daughter, would she be able to understand wh it is probably best to keep the info to herself?
She would be able to understand why it might be better not to discuss it, but whether it would actually happen is something else. This is not to say she's not reliable or trustworthy, because she is, and actually she's quite emotionally mature for her age. I just know how I was in my early teens, and how most of my friends were, and the things we discussed that we probably shouldn't have. There's nothing many teen girls thrive more on than bonding through communication/secrets. I'm not saying she definitely wouldn't keep it to herself, or even that that is the most important thing. I do still feel it's kind of hypocritical to treat it like "just another medication" and yet tell her it's best if she doesn't tell anyone else. Know what I mean? The whole thing is just a little hard for me to put my finger on.
We have a few more days to ruminate on it - she's away with her grandma and won't be back til next week. I'd appreciate any further thoughts/viewpoints.
Grethel- Could you ask the prescribing doctor for advice on how to approach it with your daughter, especially since he suggested telling her?
Possibly. She has a pretty busy practice, though. I don't think my dh will see her again for a while unless he has an issue, and I'm not sure this one is so vital I'd take up her time with it. But maybe her office would have some advice or protocol on the subject. Good thought! Thanks!
If I were comfortable enough with you to let my child go to your house without me being there, then the knowledge that your dh was using medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor wouldn't worry me. I know if my husband were using it (he'd love to but it's illegal where we live), he'd be sure to do it away from our girls and any other children. And if I knew and trusted you well enough to send my child to your home, I'd know that your dh would never use his medicinal marijuana around my girls, just as my dh doesn't share any of his prescription drugs with our children or anyone else's.
Also, I think our children are way smarter than we give them credit for. We sometimes play the "Weed Card" song by Garfunkel and Oates, and our 7yo loves singing along with it, and our 12yo loves "That Seventies Show" which features lots and lots of pot smoking. But that doesn't mean our girls want to go to jail. Both dh and I are in favor of legalizing marijuana, I don't really have any interest in smoking it but I'd just like to make countries like Mexico and Columbia safer places to live by sucking the profit out of the illegal marijuana industry...
So we talk about how we think it really shouldn't be illegal, but, since it is and we care about being there to raise them, we're not going to bring any illegal substance into our home.
I wouldn't tell her. Not yet anyway. Maybe when she's a little older or catches you or starts asking questions but I'd keep it on the dl for now. Is it really any of her business? You don't want her to think dad's a doper!
At first I was in the camp to tell her, but your follow-up convinced me that you have valid reasons NOT to tell her. I'm not opposed to medical marijuana use and I think it should be legalized, but I've never used it or any other illegal drug, so I just don't have a lot of experience with this issue. But I would be concerned about the discussion kids might have with each other and what they would tell their parents. I do think there might be other parents who wouldn't want their kids to go to your house even though your dh has a prescription. JMHO.
Thanks for the honest replies! Very appreciated.
We haven't told her yet, and it hasn't been an issue. He uses such a small amount, not every night, and always after the kids are in bed, and he keeps the little bit he has on hand in an extremely safe-from-prying-eyes, out of the way (and locked) place. We still have a lot of conflicted feelings about not telling her, but at this point it seems to be working best. When the time feels right, we'll talk to her about it.