Reconciling cannabis use with parenthood isn’t an easy undertaking in modern Canadian society. Though legalization seems imminent, many stigmas still surround cannabis use (especially regular use, whether medical or not).
Cannabis use presents unique challenges to those of us who are parents. It’s easy not to care what other people think when you’re only answering for yourself, but when you are responsible for a child with their own school and social life, things get complicated.
For starters, when your child wants to have a school friend over for a playdate, what would their parents think if they knew you were a bit stoned while taking care of their child? Or even if you refrain from smoking before they arrive, what about just having cannabis in the house?
Now, if you’re just an occasional smoker, none of this is anything to worry about. But for medical or habitual users, this poses a problem.
For good or bad, cannabis has been a part of who I am for the better part of my days. More of my life at this point has been spent under the influence than not.
Now that I’m older and have a family, my habits have changed a bit, but I still smoke weed all day long, every day. The main difference is that when I was younger I would smoke to get stoned, often consuming up to an eighth a day. But now I rarely do so, smoking less than a gram a day, spreading it out over many small doses (this started before I became a parent).
Having never spoken to a doctor about any of this, I’m not sure whether to classify my own usage as simple dependency or as self-medication for some undiagnosed affliction (I suspect the latter), but the fact remains that cannabis is an integral part of my life, of who I am, and I don’t feel that I should be required to change this simply to fall in line with outdated social norms just because some people still choose to harbor them as though they were infallible truths.
I want to be clear that I’m not endorsing habitual cannabis use as a good parenting practice. What I am endorsing here is the idea that people shouldn’t have to change who they are when they become parents, insofar as their choices don’t negatively impact their family’s quality of life.
If I felt that cannabis was having a detrimental effect on my quality of life—or even moreso, my child’s quality of life—I would stop. This might happen because of a loss of motivation, a loss of connection with my child or spouse, or financial difficulties. Thankfully i haven’t experienced any of these warning signs yet.
I feel that these are important considerations for any parent who uses cannabis, but I could just as easily be talking about technology habits (cell phones, social media, video games), dietary habits, social habits, and general self-discipline, just to name a few. Being a parent takes a remarkable amount of awareness and consideration, no matter what your lifestyle is like.
This is why the stigma around cannabis and parenting strikes me as so absurd. We all have to keep our passions in check—this is what it means to be an adult. So when you’re looking for reasons to criticize yourself as a parent, ask yourself these questions: is my child happy? Is my child healthy (in the sense of being well looked after)? Does my child trust me (and vice-versa)? If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, then keep up the good work.
And please, whatever you do—barring extraordinary circumstances—don’t criticize other people unless you’re close to them. It’s so rare that a random encounter with a stranger will tell you anything about who they really are, and yet we are all so keen to judge. Remember, when we think we are judging strangers, more often than not we’re really only judging ourselves, seeing ourselves reflected in their likenesses.
I still feel the weight of the stigma around cannabis and parenting, but I take solace my belief that legalization is near. I’m confident that once unprescribed cannabis use is legal, the social paradigm shift that has been happening slowly over the past 50 years will ramp up, and these outdated views will be relegated to history, alongside so many other previously discarded beliefs about what it means to be a good parent.
- Anonymous Dad
Featured image by Gugatchitchinadze.