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Am I a bad parent for letting my 16-year-old son smoke marijuana? Sometimes I do it with him, too. It’s a bonding thing. We live in California, so it is legal, but I told him not to tell his friends or teachers. My son gets excellent grades and is in good health. I know marijuana doesn’t have negative health effects, but I recently started feeling iffy about the smoking. What do you think?
Legally smoking pot with your son doesn’t in and of itself make you a bad father. But it’s a step in that direction. The fact that you told your son not to tell his friends or teachers suggests you realized your bonding strategy was problematic long before you started feeling “iffy.”
Since marijuana is legal in your state, I’ll refrain from making a strictly moral argument. Of course, legality has never been a substitute for wisdom. It’s also legal to beat your head against a wall, bungee jump without a net, and try to run a marathon in Death Valley. Legal or not, there are a number of reasons why you should not condone your son’s pot smoking. Let alone join in.
First, marijuana is addictive. I’m sure you could find some group that claims otherwise, but the science is clear. Pot is addictive, just like coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes. But unlike java, booze, and cancer sticks, marijuana is still illegal in most states. Why on earth would you want to get your son hooked on something that could land him in jail if he did it just about anywhere else in the country?
Second, the fact that your son still gets good grades does not mean he will continue to do so. Many alcoholics do just fine for awhile. Then they hit a wall. Once that happens, many of them try to quit drinking. Unfortunately, they have often compounded their drinking problems with job or marital problems. The best way to avoid fallout is not to drop the bomb.
Third, “health” is a relative term. It’s too early to conclude that marijuana has no long-term health risks, though I’ll acknowledge it’s probably not as dangerous as alcohol or cigarettes, at least in terms of how it affects your body. But addictions of any kind are dangerous, particularly for younger people, who often have more trouble fighting them. And the consumption of anything that reduces your mental faculties puts you at risk if an emergency occurs, or if you are compelled to make decisions while still under the influence.
Fourth, it’s tough to feel optimistic about a relationship in which the participants “bond” by consuming a substance that lessens their ability to interact with each other. Pick some activities that allow you and your son to enjoy each other’s company without the help of a mind-altering drug.
Is it mean to make your kids play outside? My boy is 4, and he does not like to go outside and play. He just wants to watch movies or do crafts. When I try to make him play outside, it turns into a fight. He cries and throws a fit, but I eventually make him go, and he finds something to play with. Is this a bad thing to do?
You are doing your son a favor, although he doesn’t realize it. By 2008, nearly 20% of children age 6 to 11 were obese, triple the percentage in 1980. Credit those stats to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have become a sedentary society, and it starts very young.
By all means, keep sending your son outside to play. That outdoor playtime could go a long way toward preventing him from becoming a statistic.
If you like, try taking some steps to make it more fun for him. Go outside with him and throw a ball or ride a bike. Sign him up for organized activities he enjoys. Take him to parks and zoos and other outdoor attractions. Just make sure you get him outdoors and keep him moving.
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