To support youth in making informed choices about cannabis, it’s important to build a foundation of connection with them. Starting a discussion about cannabis is one way to grow the relationships with the youth in our lives. It can open up the lines of communication and build trust about other topics too. By inviting open and honest conversation about cannabis (or any other subject) we let youth know that their thoughts, feelings and experiences matter to us.
Starting the Conversation
Cannabis use can be a difficult topic to discuss with those closest to us. Talking about drug use can bring up many good or bad feelings, opinions and memories. You are not alone – most people struggle with providing this type of guidance.
The conversation may happen naturally if a youth asks you a question or you can try starting the conversation in a cannabis-related situation. For example, if you see a store that sells cannabis while you are out or if cannabis is being used in a movie or TV show you are watching together.
To become a safe person to talk with, use care and respect, come from a place of empathy and let them know that you care about them. Other tips for good conversation include:
- Practicing open communication, listening, acknowledging their points of view and avoiding judgmental comments.
- Focusing on connecting through conversation rather than assessing the details of what they tell you. It’s not really an open conversation if you invite your child to share and then criticize them for ideas you do not like.
- Understanding when to share (or not share) from your own past. Every youth is different so it’s important to consider your reasons for sharing and how they might respond.
Supporting Youth Who Use Cannabis
Discovering a youth in your life has been using cannabis can be scary. However, it can also be an opportunity to grow your relationship together.
Resist the urge to overreact with worry or anger and instead try to:
- Stay calm and have a conversation free of assumptions. This honors your relationship and the trust you have established.
- Talk “with" not “at" the youth. Sit with them and tell them how you feel using “I feel” statements. Give them a chance to share their feeling with you as well.
- Understand the reasons why the youth chose to use cannabis. Youth use cannabis for a variety of reasons including curiosity, peer pressure, to have fun or to cope. You can learn how a youth may need to be supported by listening.
It’s important to seek out accurate and balanced information about cannabis use and risks. That way, you can support the youth in your lives from a wholistic perspective and help them make informed choices for themselves.
For more information about cannabis and youth visit www.fnha.ca/cannabis.