Do the substances parents use affect they way they raise their kids? Most would say, absolutely. But researchers at Ohio State University wanted to find out exactly how different substances changed the way parents related to their kids. In particular, they focused on how—and how much—parents who consume different recreational substances discipline their children.
And if you think cannabis, unlike alcohol or methamphetamine, would be the one substance to make parents more chill—like researchers thought it would—you’d be mistaken. According to a new study, parents who smoke weed are stricter on their kids than parents who abstain from cannabis. But they’re still not as punitive as parents who drink or use harder substances.
Weed Isn’t Making Parents More Chill
For most cannabis consumers, becoming a parent doesn’t mean quitting weed. Indeed, the rigors of raising children might actually be attracting parents to cannabis. In fact, according to a 2017 survey, 54 percent of people who consume cannabis are parents. And more than half of those parents have kids that are under 18.
Whenever parents get asked about their cannabis consumption, they often say that it helps them relax, chill out and be a better parent. Since we associate the effects of THC with exactly these kind of sensations, that reasoning seems to make sense. No wonder it’s exactly what Ohio State University professor Bridget Freisthler expected a random survey of California parents to show. But that’s not what Dr. Freisthler observed.
According to Freisthler’s study, “Types of Substance Use and Punitive Parenting: A Preliminary Exploration,” weed-smoking parents were harsher disciplinarians than parents who didn’t consume cannabis or other substances. Parents who smoke weed were more controlling. Overall, “they were more likely to use all forms of discipline more often,” Freisthler said.
“That is not something we would have expected to see.”
Is Marijuana Legalization Changing Parenting?
Considering how drastically legalization has expanded in the United States since 2017, it’s reasonable to assume there at least aren’t any fewer parents raising kids and consuming cannabis. Today, more parents may be consuming cannabis than ever. But instead of a shift to let-it-be parenting, cannabis use appears to be making parents stricter and more controlling. Or at least, it is for the 3000 California parents randomly chosen from 50 cities to take a survey about parenting and substance use.
The survey asked parents how often they used alcohol, cannabis, methamphetamine, opioids and other drugs. It also questioned parents about how frequently they administer three types of discipline. The survey asked parents about their use of non-violent punishments like time-outs and groundings, corporeal punishments like spanking, and harsher physical abuse like slapping and hitting.
And across the board, marijuana consumers were less chill than parents who don’t consume cannabis or other substances. According to the study, cannabis-consuming parents were 0.5 percent more likely to administer all types of discipline—from timeouts to lost privileges to spankings.
Parents who consume alcohol, however, were the most controlling and punitive. Compared to the 0.5 percent increase in discipline among weed-smoking parents compared to non-consumers, parents who drink were more likely than their sober counterparts to use punishment to control their kids.
Parents Are Turning to CBD Over THC to Cope with Parenting Stress
Dr. Freisther’s study contradicts much of the contemporary wisdom and current trends regarding cannabis and parenting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide any answers as to why parents who consume cannabis are more strict. Maybe they’re compensating, afraid that cannabis is making them a less responsible parent? Or maybe, their kids are just ruining their high.
It’s “one of the things that we want to keep an eye on,” said Freisther. And especially so, as cannabis consumption becomes more prevalent. But of course, not all kinds of cannabis are the same. CBD can calm moods and relax without the psychoactive effects of THC. And that’s one reason why CBD products are becoming go-tos for parents looking to destress and unwind.