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Son Caught Smoking Pot

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I caught my son smoking pot in his room. Should I call the police or try to deal with it myself?

A: I would not recommend calling the police and placing your son in the criminal justice system for smoking pot in his room. If he was smoking pot in his room, he wasn't being too careful about hiding his pot smoking from you, was he? So he might be sending you a "red flag" that he needs some help, even though he would probably never admit that to your face.

You certainly need to begin a dialogue with your boy about your feelings about pot smoking and take some action. I would not make this a fire-and-brimstone lecture or an attempt to shame him or threaten him with extreme punishment. You need to ask him questions about why he does it, how long he's been doing it, how many of his friends do it, etc. Let him tell you the story of how the pot smoking began and how it fits into his life. This discussion and the ones that must follow should focus on what's going on in his life that concerns him the most, what worries him, what gives him pleasure, his social life, etc. rather than just talking about why he's been illegally smoking pot.

Seek out drug programs in your area, as well as a talented therapist who deals with kids your son's age who have had drug problems. Please don't jump to the conclusion that your son is a drug addict and needs to put into an institution. Treat your discovery of his pot smoking as a call to you as a parent to seek the help of professionals, trusted family friends whom your son likes and respects, and any other adults who have had a positive influence in his life. The goal here is to understand why he's doing this and getting him the help that he needs to stop. The idea is not to make him feel like a bad kid who needs to be shamed and punished. Get the help you need from those sources that I mentioned and any others that you think may be helpful. Believe it or not, this may be a chance for you to develop a closer relationship with your son.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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