Kids today are starting everything earlier: sex, drugs, violence and, of course, social media. Recently, my little cousin showed me her Facebook page, and her profile picture had 850 likes. This was baffling to me because she’s only in the sixth f*cking grade.
I was astonished and, quite frankly, a little bit jealous. The astronomical number of likes caused me to zone out as she rambled on about what “PLUR” means (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect... betches). Like, give me a break. I’m 22, and my 12-year-old cousin is giving me lessons in EDM.
Since my cousin seemed so “wise” beyond her years, I got to thinking about what else kids these days might know that I didn’t when I was younger. Take, for example, drug use.
What are kids these days smoking? Well, definitely pot, for starters. And they’re using at absurdly young ages. I came across this story today, where two 8-year-olds and a 9-year-old got caught smoking a pipe in an elementary school bathroom. Crazy.
They were from San Francisco, but still, I doubt even Haight-Ashbury’s most miscreant of residual hippies would condone such behavior -- at least not at that age.
When I was 8, my mind was on Pogs, not pot. Not to mention, I fell asleep pretty regularly in third grade, on my own. After a few bowl snaps, in-between learning my cursive, you probably wouldn’t have been able to wake me up.
Joking aside, think about that for a second: These kids are 8 and 9 years old. They’re not only aware of pot, but they’re buying and smoking it, too. Hell, they even had the wherewithal to sneak it into the bathroom.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with starting things early. Tiger Woods benefitted greatly from hitting the PGA Tour at the age of 20, as opposed to waiting. While these kids hitting the pipe at the tender age of 8 may be equally as impressive, it’s also the reason I’m terrified of having my own children.
However, the most frightening realization may reside in the fact that, as Millennials, parenthood might not be too far in the distant future. At what age will our kids start smoking pot?
Research shows that, on average, children will first try pot by age 16, which means around eleventh or twelfth grade. That’s fair. It makes sense, too.
A separate study on parent-adolescent relationships shows that conflict between children and parents will peak between the ages of 14 and 17. According to Dr. Suvarna Sen, a Ph.D., of Calcutta University, anger is the major emotion associated with conflict. Anger is also associated with the urge to rebel.
When considering the illicit label tagged to marijuana, in addition to its availability to adolescents (to the extent that 8-year-olds are buying), the average age of onset use is rather reflective.
There’s an old cliche: "Strict parents make sneaky kids." Strict parents also tend to clash with their children more often, when compared to the alternative.
While it might seem more powerful to condemn marijuana use to our kids, and threaten them with punishment, the inverse might be the more effective strategy.
It’s human nature to seek what you can’t, or aren’t necessarily allowed, to have. By failing to acknowledge marijuana use beyond a cut-and-dry, no-no, basis, it becomes something taboo and more likely to be abused behind closed doors and behind your back.
It’s ignorant to assume that kids won’t be tempted by marijuana. It’s even more ignorant to assume that kids won’t eventually submit to their urges in relation to pot.
By talking with your kids, and even encouraging experimentation with marijuana, you’ll ensure that your children aren’t just smoking as a form of defiance.
This will also establish a comfortable forum for your children to voice their curiosity. Marijuana is often seen as a gateway drug, but it’s as much of a gateway to potential future deceit than it is to more serious drug use.
Bear in mind, by upholding an unapproachable stance on marijuana, it is likely that your children might start viewing you as unapproachable, altogether. Communication is the key to successful relationships of any level.
While maintaining leniency on the drug’s use or experimentation at an early age might prevent a more serious habit down the road, it is important to consider the adverse psychological effects of adolescent use.
According to a study conducted by Malone, Hill and Rubino, young people between the ages of 12 and 17 will undergo extreme neurological development.
Adolescents who have an already existing susceptibility for a certain psychological disorder, such as schizophrenia, will put themselves at extreme risk for developing it after periods of marijuana consumption. Psychologically, it is safest and most beneficial for the health of adolescents to try marijuana after the age of 18.
At the age of 18, young adults will also be old enough to make their own decisions. At 18, you can vote for presidents whose campaigns promote specific legalization advocacy, and you can go to war for your country. At 18, you should also be able to light a joint.
The age at which our kids will start smoking pot is ultimately in our hands. Children are a direct reflection of their parents, and when it comes time to raise our own seeds, the choice will be ours.
Don’t be afraid to discuss marijuana with children. Teach them. Explain to them. Answer questions. Ignoring the drug’s presence, or apparent omnipresence, will not make it disappear -- and simply hoping for the best is the naive, easy way out.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It