DENVER — What would you say if your teen asked if you smoked weed when you were young? Would you lie or tell the truth?
Many parents might be inclined to lie if they have, hoping to set a good example.
But psychologists say tell the truth. Research shows it’s best to be honest.
“I think you have to give them honest and straight forward information, and then get beyond that to find out why they are asking in the first place,” said Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, a child psychologist at the Child and Family Therapy Center at Lowry.
She said you don’t have to offer details, and you don’t have to pretend like it was a horrible experience if it wasn’t.
“You could say, it’s not something I’m proud of, or I did, and wasn’t something that really worked for me, or I did, and it’s not something that I would ever want you to do,” Ziegler said.
Parents could share the fallout they experienced. Did your grades drop? Did you lose friends?
Then let your kids know that we have more information now, about the impact of regular drug use on the young and developing brain.
“What we know is that cognitive functioning declines, so meaning IQ scores go down. Those are permanent. They don’t come back. The brain cells that are damaged, do not rejuvenate,” she said.
Ziegler tells her young patients, if they want to try week, to wait until they are 26, when the brain is completely formed.
Marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older in Colorado, but kids need to know it is illegal and ill-advised for them.
“It’s all around us so if we choose as parents to put our heads down and not really address it, we are doing our children a disservice,” Ziegler said.
She believes it’s important for parents to prepare for this kind of conversation. Use your best judgment about what information you share, but keep the conversation going, because there is usually a reason the teenager is asking.