We caught our 16 year old son vaping and smoking pot. He’s says. It’s no big deal and doesn’t know why we’re up so upset. What should we do?

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Hey, thank you for asking your question here at parent guidance. I'm Dr. Kevin Skinner, and I'd like to spend a little bit of time on your important question. We're seeing more and more of this type of a question. It's about vaping and smoking pot you say that you caught your 16 year old vaping and smoking pot. He's says. It's no big deal and doesn't know why we're up so upset or he says it's no big deal. And why are we so upset? What should we do?

Well, I think first of all, I think that we have a growing culture where smoking pot is being accepted vaping and is being seen as it's not a big deal. I think first of all the question that I ask any parent is, can you have influence on your child? Because our children as they get older at 16 or 17 years old, they kind of become a little bit more self-focused and they see the world around their lens. And truthfully they're at the stage where it's like I'm gonna be myself, I've got find my own identity. I'm gonna be me. So I wonder if you can have influence or not. And that's the first question. Can I have influence? And if I can have influence, how am I going to communicate to my child in a way that lets him know my concerns.

You also want to look at the friends that he's with, because more often than not our people is your son smoking alone, or is he in a cohort or a group of people? That's what they do because we know that social influence as a big influence on our own children. So is there a group or is he doing it by himself? Now, there's two important things here. If it's with a group then there's a social expectation. If he's doing it by himself, He's probably coping with things that that we don't know what things are but he's coping with something that's going on. Is he being bullied? is he being pressured? is he being made fun of whatever the story may be. Those are things that I would want to know in order to really provide the best support as possible as a parent. He's upset and doesn't know why, I think it's important that you do some education if at all possible do some research on vaping and ask him to watch that with you and then see if you can get him to open up.

I think you as a parent have to be open about the possibility that you might not have a lot of influence here. And so the only way we find that we have influence is we can develop a relationship first, if we can have connection a conversation without him feeling judged or you know, why are you help me understand and then ultimately is the ability to say here are some of my concerns obviously, I'm not going to be able to stop you, but I do have concerns. And hopefully you can get your son to open up about the vaping and the smoking pot and I would let them him know of your personal values beliefs and concerns and let them know that. This matters to you and that you care about him and you care about his health and certainly the research is showing especially with some vaping that there's some significant things that are happening that I think if you do a little bit of research, you might be able to share that with your son and say hey, here's some of the concerns and the same thing with pot.

I know it's growing in terms of its usage around the United States and Canada, but I think it's fair to say, you know, we don't know the influence of this and again, there's one other part here. I would say my experience based upon conversations I've had is that individuals who are vaping smoking pot something that happens to them. Is that they begin to either disconnect from certain groups or they connect with other groups and I would want to make sure that we focus on the relationships, your relationship and see if we can help him understand it. You know, he can have relationships that are positive and then those relationships often they end because there's other problems that are going on.

One final thought, and that is your son possibly vaping or using pot to slow down his mind. Is he anxious? Does he have ADHD now the reason why I asked that is sometimes the anxious ADHD mind. Sometimes we'll use pot to slow down the mind because they're so anxious. So that's something that you might consider it you can't have influence or if you're concerned at a deeper level. Then I was considered professional counseling to make sure that you and your son are getting proper support to talk about this in a real meaningful way because I think there is a proper reason and a reason to be concerned.

Anyway, thanks for your question. I wish you and your son the best as you move forward.

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Dr. Kevin Skinner