Parenting has always been hard, but every era has its specific challenges. Today, kids are raised on iPads and inundated with social media. In school, they’re at the center of culture wars over COVID measures and censorship. And they’re coming of age as a favorite drug of teen rebellion — cannabis — becomes more potent than ever, not to mention widely legal.
There are some counterintuitive outcomes here: The legal market, by replacing dealers and heavily regulating sales, may thwart kids who could have once bought a couple grams from a friend of a friend. Here and there, a study finds that teens smoke less weed in states that have made it available to people aged 21 and older. Perhaps they’ve even downgraded the “cool” factor of weed since it turned into a corporate industry. Nevertheless, bud finds a way, and curious kids will be sneaking it into their bedrooms for many decades to come. Which is, in the classic scenario, when a parent learns of their experimentation. And what happens then?
The parent gets miffed that the little brat isn’t smoking with them.
A handful of redditors doubted the authenticity of this confession, but to me it rings quite true: An 18-year-old girl who grew up with a stoner dad probably dreads when she’ll finally have to sit for a session with him (or, god forbid, her mom and dad). At that point in your life, you want your independence. You want to enjoy being high on your terms. And you damn sure don’t want to hear a shaggy dog story about how hard it was to procure a dime bag back in the day.
But that won’t stop your folks from trying.
Inevitable, really. A generation ordinarily scolded or punished by Boomer parents for a secret pot stash are eager to prove they’re different, so they imagine passing a bong to their child like one might mark the occasion of a first beer together when that same child is old enough. If the younger party is resistant, that reflects a desire to try new experiences on their own, or a need for privacy, or that they aren’t actually ready to be a grown-up just yet. After all, the moment you consent to share a joint with your old man, you’re scaling up to another level of maturity. You’re no longer sweating the honest conversation the two of you could have while under the influence, nor the inherent dorkiness of socializing with someone who used to change your diapers.
Naturally, opinion ranges as to when is “too young” or “old enough” for the weed novice to give it a whirl — a question every stoner parent will have to answer, often before they anticipated doing so. The sadly limited science we have offers a murky picture of what cannabis does to the adolescent brain, meaning it’s safest to wait as long as possible to start. But at 18, 21 and beyond, everyone is making major life choices, and presumably equipped for this one. Caught with an eighth any younger than that, well, it’s probably for the best to have a mom or dad willing to rationally discuss the pros and cons of the drug (if only to avoid feeling like a giant hypocrite).
But, should they convince their high schooler to hold off, part of them will still be counting the days until a family smokeout seems appropriate. Don’t forget to take pictures for the scrapbook.