parents When the hemp plant, in spite of a ban, celebrated its renaissance at the end of the 1960s and in the 1970s with the emergence of the hippie culture, there were very few parents – let alone grandparents – who were aware of cannabis or who had state-manipulated information in their possession.
Because consumption was almost exclusively reserved for the young generation, parents had little understanding of their offspring’s new ideas at this time.
The hemp stork doesn’t exist
But since second and third generation hemp consumers have started taking cannabis for recreational purposes or as medication, there are also increasing numbers of hemp flower fans who have children of their own now. Because pot and its consumption is illegal or at least socially unacceptable almost all over Europe, many parents are struggling to educate their children about drugs objectively and to handle the matter of consumption honestly with their children. Many parents therefore lie to their children in order to protect them and themselves from all kinds of difficulties. But dishonesty and lying shouldn’t even be an option when it comes to your own offspring’s drug education and drug consumption. To leave this matter to a state which mainly tells children untruths about substances is like leaving the creation of political awareness in the hands of a single national political party.
I have already spoken to many fathers and mothers who seriously believe that covering up a secret love of hemp is OK even within your own family. Yet most children know, at least by the time they see them at school, what the conical cigarettes are all about, as well as about their parents’ much-loved habits; even if the parents have long believed that their son or daughter considered mum and dad completely “straight edged”. But then, due to their own dishonesty, it is often already too late to exert the desired influence when it comes to their own offspring’s initial experiences with drugs.
It is never too soon
An infant aged three or four years old would normally say that cigarettes are bad for you or are only suitable for adults, and the same goes for alcohol, but few smokers would admit to their son or daughter a few years’ later that they are addicted. Contrary to the majority of alcohol or cannabis consumers, most smokers are addicted to the cigarette. But even with alcohol, few social drinkers would explain to their offspring that alcohol possesses all the characteristics of a so-called hard drug, as soon as the consumption pattern reaches an alarming level. To summarise: Very few parents are willing to explain the issue of addiction, substance abuse or a problematic consumption pattern in relation to their own, perhaps not entirely exemplary behaviour. And it may only be that beer after work or that cigarette after a meal.
In response to the question “Why do you smoke, daddy?” one can already answer a six or seven-year-old with: Because I am addicted to nicotine. I started far too young, wasn’t told the facts, my parents smoked and I had already passively inhaled the nerve poison before I was able to think. That’s just the way things were back then; no one really thought about it. I have already tried giving up, but I have never managed to do so. Now I am almost proud of the fact that I have been managing on two to three cigarettes a day for several years. This condition is called being “addicted”. To put it simply, I am addicted to nicotine.”
Many parents could definitely have a conversation similar to the one on the issue of problematic consumption on the issue of alcohol or cannabis too, but such a degree of self-criticism is difficult, even when it concerns legal tobacco. You should be aware, however, that by the time your offspring are 12 or 13 years of age, they will be asking precisely these questions, and they will actually already know the answer. Young people like to test their parents’ credibility when it comes to matters that you actually only discuss among friends. Therefore, do not delay in explaining your own consumption any longer, in spite of your fears, perhaps even trying to understand your own consumption, and start educating young people about a wide range of substances and drugs before they start trying the drugs for themselves. A very good tool for this is the table produced by former drugs advisor to the British government, Dr David Nutt, which contains the 20 most common substances that have been scientifically tested for their damage potential for health and society.
The fears that your terrible secret might not be kept within your own four walls and result in unpleasant consequences for yourself and your offspring need to be weighed up against the damage that a dishonest explanation about drugs may cause. Things are considerably easier for the few cannabis patients in Germany, because it is legal there and the reason for consuming the drug is explained to every child. People who enjoy cannabis for relaxation purposes, however, often simply don’t dare to share this information with their own flesh and blood. However, children know at a relatively young age that some things are only intended for close family members. The same also applies to the issue of hemp, as it is a plant that is very useful, but that also poses risks. What’s more, there are laws about hemp that are very unjust and that allow a few people to earn a very large amount of money. Hemp is therefore still illegal and it is best not to talk about it at school. That is just changing in America, and when things have changed here too, everyone will talk openly about it. But until then, it is a private matter because the plant is illegal.
If you don’t have the courage or fear the residual risk of a juvenile blabbermouth, you should be able to lie so well that your young son or daughter doesn’t manage to catch daddy out when he’s had a drink to celebrate the New Year. Personal consumption, however moderate it is, commits the individual concerned to explain all about alcohol and therefore actually also about cannabis and any other substances that you may encounter during the course of your life.
Don’t make any threats
Just as little as public threats of punishment have been influencing young people’s consumption for the last 40 years, you shouldn’t put the children in your inner circle under psychological pressure not to portray the issue that has been discussed to the outside world.
Whenever someone notices that I smoke weed, I encounter problems with my teachers or the youth welfare office.”
It is possible, but even if you, a mother or father, are afraid of the risk of your own honesty, the child should not be held responsible. If you decide to inform to your children based on evidence, the parents bear this residual risk themselves, period. In a war against consumption-accepting drugs policy there is no 100% guarantee, but adults are better equipped to process any injustice suffered. This is why parents who take drugs must not pass on the psychological pressure associated with the cannabis ban to the next generation, but enable the next generation to have a relaxed attitude to the illegal plant. This also involves simply trusting them to keep their mouth shut if you have chosen the right time to admit to being a “pothead”.
This preparation means that you can also discuss delicate issues, such as personal experiences with weed, with your own offspring. An authentic parent has a much greater influence on potential curiosity than any psychologist or drugs counsellor.
Please wait a while longer, you are only 15″
If you definitely want to try with friends, don’t smoke it at least”
is perceived as a tip rather than as a categorical “no” or an ambivalent “I don’t care”. Some parents are even so liberal that they badly want to eat the first space cake together, but with such a high degree of coolness, you have to ask yourself how desirable it would have been for you to have had your first attack of the supergiggles with your mum or dad? Which is why “the crew” is by far the better place to experience this. The best thing that parents can do is guide their offspring, but control needs to give way to mutual trust.
It is the parents’ job to do what the school fails to do
I recently attended a year 10 parents’ evening which was called due to some pupils’ problematic cannabis consumption. All parents of those pupils who were regularly caught smoking weed on school property had not provided any evidence-based drug education at home, but had completely neglected to teach their children about illegal drugs or had demonised consumption per se. None of the children on whom such evidence-based knowledge had been imparted at home were part of the group smoking weed. But unfortunately, the parents of the pupils who come from a liberal part of Berlin are not representative of the prevention work of parents in Germany or Austria in general. Among the responsible educationalists on the other hand, acceptance of consumption still appears to be a foreign concept and the provision of advice lacks a sense of reality. Even in most schools in the capital, which has an affinity with hemp, old-school psychologists are still being sent into classrooms to provide lessons of the same category as those which taught children of the 1960s and 1970s that homosexuality can be cured. The psychologist brought in from the state of Berlin at the meeting I attended lost her credibility among most better-educated parents as soon as she had claimed that cannabis consumption causes holes in your brain. The enclosed diagram came from the British gutter press. In view of such dangerous government propaganda, a reflective mind will often have no other choice than to explain the issue of the hemp stork to the youth themselves. It’s only honest, isn’t it?