People have been smoking marijuana for hundreds of years. And, inevitably, some of those people have been parents. Today, as cannabis becomes legalized in more states across the U.S., parents are facing the challenges—both privately and publically—of how to talk about the substance with their children, as well as how to orient parenting around their own usage. To get a better sense of how parents make these decisions and to see what they’ve learned on the job, we reached out to a few for insight.
“My husband and I,” states Seattle resident Kelly Fleek, “neither one of us believe in lying to our kids. It’s an ineffective manner of parenting. So, we basically made the decision when they were little to answer any questions they had, age-appropriately but with honesty.” Fleek explains she and her husband, Alton, had drastically different upbringings when it came to cannabis, and notes, “We tried to strike a balance between the way both of us had been raised.”
The Fleeks didn’t take their decision to be open and honest (though age-appropriate) with their children lightly. And while they never smoked in the house or left paraphernalia around when their kids were small (the Fleek daughters are now 21 and 25), they did use cannabis recreationally and medically—and still do. “We have never been the kind of parents to have ‘The Talk,’” she says. “We didn’t treat our kids like little adults, but we did treat them with a lot of equity. And we stressed communication.”
Now that their kids are out of the house, Fleek says she and her husband’s marijuana use remains the same as it always has. “We didn’t want a separate life from our kids,” she maintains, “because when they find out about you—and if you were lying to them—they would be confused.” Furthermore, Fleek continues, using cannabis helped her be a better parent. “I do feel that, in the end,” she reflects, “my particular marijuana usage—especially in health from physical pain and controlling mental health issues—made parenting very positive.”
Seattle resident (and DOPE Magazine contributor) Kelly Guava Jelly agrees that cannabis has helped her be a better—and even more engaging—mom to her six-year-old son: “I’m more creative, more down-to-earth and engaged, for sure,” she asserts. Guava Jelly says she grew up around weed, and that she has conflicted feelings about how early she was introduced to cannabis (around nine years old). As a result, she has an understanding of when to talk about weed and how to feature it in her routine as an adult, without making it part of her son’s life. “I try to be honest and forthright about the world with him,” she acknowledges.
Guava Jelly says her son has even made comments about her smoking. “He doesn’t like it,” she admits. “He says, ‘Mom, don’t smoke, it’s not good for you.’ So, I recently got a vape pen. I definitely wouldn’t recommend for kids to smoke at all. I wish I didn’t smoke until I grew up. When he becomes a young adolescent, there’s a different conversation.” Her son is also half-Jamaican, she notes, “So there’s also a kind of spiritual aspect, too, with Rastafarianism.”
And while many might disagree with the idea of parents being open and honest about cannabis with their children—as opposed to, say, openly drinking alcohol in front of them—there are others who believe it’s appropriate to enjoy cannabis with their kids when they’re of age. “I waited until my son was 18 to smoke with him,” declares New Jersey’s Karin Gray. “Until he was about 15, he didn’t know I smoked. I always told him I’d rather him smoke than drink, though. Now, it’s a bonding time for us. I just remind him to take care of his responsibilities first.”