As A Teen, Did You Smoke Weed?

“When Your Asks, “Did You ?”

A potentially tough question can lead to a healthy conversation.

Part of parenting is being asked to answer some tough questions. Do you believe in God? Why is there so much terror in the world? Why don’t I have a lot of friends? And, among many others, the question that some parents may dread: As a teen, did you smoke weed?

The article in the New York Times cited above got me thinking about how I may have reacted when my son did (or could have) asked the question. It’s all a bit blurry at this point. (That should be a clue right there.) But knowing who I was then and how I parented, my guess is that I tried the “lecture” approach—you know, citing all the bad things pot can do to one’s not yet completely formed brain, affirming that pot is a “gateway” drug that can lead to harder stuff. All the obvious “adult” responses that made me out to be a hypocrite and a lecturer instead of a listener. I missed one of those magic moments when teens ask a question that, when answered honestly, can end up opening the lines of communication for more questions down the line and can, according to new research, impact adolescents to be less likely to experiment with drugs.
Regardless of what your history is, it can help to receive “Did you smoke weed?” as an overture rather than an inquisition. Your teenager probably has more pressing questions lined up behind that one. Whether conscious of it or not, a teenager asking, “What choice did you make?” is often wondering, “What choice should I make?”
So, as I drink the truth cool aid and face facts, the truth had been out of the bag for years. My friends liked to party. We were in our 30s, and it seemed there was a party on the social calendar almost every week end. The majority of us had young children and, when we hosted the gang, it was our assignment to get the kids “down” and out before the festivities began.

But my son was smart; he knew something was up. He must have hoodwinked me into thinking he was off in Never Never Land when, in fact, he was waiting patiently until I closed his bedroom door and tiptoed downstairs. He wasn’t fooled but did, when he was older, ask me the “Did you smoke weed?” question. As I said earlier, I didn’t rise to the occasion; in fact, I probably denied that I’d ever smoked pot or that I’d smoked but had soon come to realize the error of my ways.

“But I smelled it,” I remember him saying. “How could I not?”

I fumbled for some response to get me off the hook. But he had me where he wanted me—caught in a bold-face lie.

That should have been the moment when I owned up and listened to what he had to say: what he thought, the peer pressure he might have felt, whether he’d already smoked a joint.

As soon as I post this, I’m calling my son. I need to set the record straight—even if he’s 44 and long into his own adulthood and his own decisions about pot and everything else.

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