Parents Controlling Cannabis

Joan and Frank come to me to discuss their fifteen year old daughter Mary. She was beginning to experiment with cannabis, and they wanted advice about how to cope and stop her experimentation before it led to something worse.

They agreed that they were hoping that she would become an independent, responsible adult. They also agreed that they could not realistically expect to stop her experimenting with cannabis while outside of their home. We discussed the dangers of turning this issue into a struggle for control, a battle they would ultimately lose. This battle would be lost because it would seriously damage their relationship and reduce Mary’s ability to feel in control over her life. Joan and Frank would then be taking on the responsiblity for the Mary’s behaviour, leaving her feeling less responsibility. The damage to the ability of both sides to trust the other could be very serious.

If our children are experimenting with alcohol or other drugs, we need to be very careful that we do not over react and turn what seems normal to them into a battlefield. Whether we like it or not, it is normal for a lot of teenagers to experiment with, or to recreationally use, cannabis. We discussed the relevant issues and agreed that Joan and Frank need to do what they could to:

– keep their lines of communication open with Mary by discussing their views and listening to her views. I reminded them that they have two ears and one mouth, and so should listen twice as much as they talked;

– have conversations as a couple, without Mary to agree on a united, consistent approach;

– increase Mary’s sense of control over her life by increasingly allowing her to make decisions effecting herself, and also allowing her to experience the consequences of those decisions;

– increase the amount of time they spent with Mary sharing enjoyable activities;

– trust Mary’s ability to learn from the consequences of her actions; and

– better manage their anxiety about cannabis usage automatically leading to major problems.

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