How Pot Helps Parenting

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How Pot Helps Parenting

This is going to be a good one...

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/08/opinion/how-pot-helps-parenting.html?_r=1&smid=fb-share

Op-Ed Contributor

Pot for Parents

By MARK WOLFE

Published: September 7, 2012

THE youngest of my three daughters was born around the same time I became a card-carrying medical cannabis patient. Even though I was only 44, I?d been suffering from occasional back pain. I also suffered bouts of stress, compounded by anxiety. The causes were unknown, but there seemed to be a correlation with work deadlines and flying coach with three children under the age of 5. Sometimes it got so bad I had trouble falling asleep at night, leaving me groggy and irritable.

So, in 2010, I resolved to seek medical help. I received a thorough physical examination from my CannaMed doctor, who checked not only my pulse but my blood pressure as well. Examining the results, he concluded that I would benefit enormously from a cannabis-based treatment regimen and recommended that I use a brownie-based form of the drug to avoid the lung irritation associated with other modes of dose administration. I soon had in my possession a shiny, state-sanctioned medical marijuana ID card, gaining me free access to the city?s expanding array of quasi-legal cannabis dispensaries.

After two years of treatment, I can state unequivocally that I feel much better about pretty much everything. Sure, my back still hurts, but I?m cool with it.

But the best part is an amazing off-label benefit I call Parental Attention Surplus Syndrome.

Before beginning treatment, I was a dutiful if not particularly enthusiastic father. Workaday parental obligations were a necessary, unfortunate chore. I was so stressed out by the end of the day that bedtime, with its interminable pleas for more stories, songs, sips of water and potty breaks, felt like a labor to be endured and dispatched as quickly as possible.

Here is what a typical weekday evening exchange between me and my oldest daughter once looked like:

Child:
Daddy, can you show me how to make a Q?

Father: (sipping bourbon and soda, not looking up from iPad) Just make a circle and put a little squiggle at the bottom.

Child: No, show me!

Father: Sweetie, not now, O.K.? Daddy?s tired.

It?s different now:

Child: Daddy, can you show me how to make a Q?

Father: (getting down on the floor) Here, I?ll hold your hand while you hold the pen and we?ll make one together. There! We made a Q! Isn?t it fantastic?

Child: Thanks, Daddy!

Father: Don?t you just love the shape of this pen?

It?s the same with my middle child:

Before:

Child: Can I watch a video?

Father: Of course!

After:

Child:
Can I watch a video?

Father: Why don?t we read a story and then pretend we?re in our own video! Go pick out a book, and I?ll go get the finger puppets.

I swear I am a more loving, attentive and patient father when I take my medication as prescribed. Perhaps this isn?t surprising. As anyone who inhaled during college can attest, cannabis enhances the ability to perceive beauty, complexity and novelty in otherwise mundane things (grout patterns in your bathroom floor, the Grateful Dead, Doritos), while simultaneously locking you into a prolonged state of rapt attention. You not only notice the subtle color variations in your cat?s fur, you stare at them in loving awe for 20 solid minutes.

I submit that this can be enormously salutary to the parent-toddler relationship. Beyond food, shelter and clothing, what do small children need most from their parents? Sustained, loving, participatory attention. Thank you, Doctor.

No doubt some of you are tut-tutting that I should use meditation or yoga or Zen mindfulness to achieve this. Point taken, and if I had a full-time staff of cooks and nannies, I?m sure I?d give all that a whirl. But the reality is that my wife and I are raising multiple tots on modest incomes in a small space in a very expensive city. No time for Tantra.

And I?m not suggesting that all stressed-out fathers should just get baked. You might even get a ticket for it in some states. And let?s not forget the health risks, which are rumored to possibly exist. I?ve heard that even a small amount of marijuana can impair short-term memory function. It might also affect short-term memory function.

But for me, at least, the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. I find the time I spend with my children to be qualitatively different and simply more fun when I take my medicine (always in private, never in front of them, never too much). I am able to become a kid again, to see things through my daughters? eyes and experience, if I?m lucky, the wonder of each new game, each new object and sound, as they do.

Deeply embedded voices of authority in my head do still caution that I may be hurting my kids in ways I can?t see. But I just can?t imagine how it could possibly be worse for them than the consequences of their father?s former stress-fueled frustration and withdrawal. When I?m rolling around the floor with my giggling daughters, clicking into an easy dynamic of goofy happiness and love, I feel it?s just what the doctor ordered.

Mark Wolfe is an art dealer.

Is this fine by you, just someone's choice, good parenting, or bad parenting? What's your take?

Joined: 12/10/05
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I gotta admit my first response was "all you need for a pot prescription is a sometimes sore back and a little stress???"

As to his "pot makes a better parent" claim. I'm just going to have to disagree. The idea doesn't sit well with me.

Alissa_Sal's picture
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I can see his point. I have to admit that some of the activities that a small child wants you to participate in (like playing the game where the kitty rides the train to his house, goes to bed, gets up, and rides the train again, over and over and over) might be easier to handle with a bit of pot. I'm not sold that it's totally the good parenting move (only bad parents deal with their kids sober! LMAO) but I can see his point.

Joined: 03/08/03
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I don't think he's saying you have to be high to be a good parent. But I do understand what he's saying. From my experience with being high, I can see how fun it would be to play Legos, draw pictures, have tea parties, etc., with a full heart, enjoying every second of it, vs. doing it because you "should".

Alissa_Sal's picture
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I don't think he's saying you have to be high to be a good parent.

I know that's not what he was saying, I just thought it was funny. Smile

Alissa_Sal's picture
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Having thought about it more seriously, I don't think that pot would necessarily make me a better parent. My experience with it is that yes, it does concentrate my focus on some things, but to the exclusion of other things. Meaning that if I was focused on watching TV or petting the dog, or whatever, and my child needed or wanted my attention, I can totally see me not even really registering them. I don't know if everyone reacts that way, so I'm not going to make a blanket statement, but for me, I don't think it would be great. It might be great for as long as my attention was hyper focused on the kid, but then once it was on something else, I would pretty much suck. LOL

mom3girls's picture
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I have never been high so I dont know how it would affect me. But I hate this article, like want to punch the author and I dont usually have that strong of a reaction.

I just dont have any respect for him as a parent. What would happen if a major emergency were to occur? Would he be able to function enough to deal with it? I had to take vicoden a couple of weeks ago after surgery and knew that while on it I could not function 100%, I cant imagine pot would be any different

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Pot is different. I wouldn't recommend getting behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of any substance, but that aside, if you're mildly high it's very easy to have a "buzzkill" effect when something happens. He's not talking about getting wasted and lying on the couch watching reruns and eating chips.

My mom is taking medical marijuana now to help with the effects of chemo, and she can totally function under it, and could snap out of it as needed.

Years ago (in my carefree youth) I got high before heading to the airport, figuring it would make the flight more interesting. I got to the airport, happily buzzed, and the ticket agent ran up and called out for anyone on my flight, and said HURRY and made me rush through the whole line in a panic, checking my bag, doing the whole process superfast (this was in the pre-9/11 era) and trust me, there wasn't a trace of intoxication left by the time I got to the gate, just from the adrenaline. (Randomly, there was also no need for the rush...ended up sitting in the lounge there for another 25 minutes.)

But it is different. Pharmaceuticals like Vicodin, you can't shake off. Sometimes you can't even stay awake.

mom3girls's picture
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I guess there is ways to snap out of a high with pot, but I keep thinking back to my friends in college that would get high and I would not allow them to care for my children in that state. There is no way I would think they could function well enough to deal with all the complexity that comes with raising 4 different kids with 4 different needs. Plus, I really dont want my oldest that is 12 to see someone high and think "oh that looks like fun"

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"mom3girls" wrote:

I guess there is ways to snap out of a high with pot, but I keep thinking back to my friends in college that would get high and I would not allow them to care for my children in that state. There is no way I would think they could function well enough to deal with all the complexity that comes with raising 4 different kids with 4 different needs. Plus, I really dont want my oldest that is 12 to see someone high and think "oh that looks like fun"

But that's different...getting high in college is about REALLY getting high, vs. having enough of a buzz to have a blast focusing on a Lego game. And this guy doesn't tell his kids he's high or do it in front of them.

AlyssaEimers's picture
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I have never been high, so I am not sure what that is like. I can understand that it is difficult to take care of your children while in a lot of pain. DH just gave his kidney to his brother this summer. After the surgery he was in A LOT of pain. I can not see him being able to care for our children in that much pain, but neither can I see him caring for our children full of the pain medicine he was on. I feel for people who have no one to help them with their kids after a major surgery.

mom3girls's picture
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

But that's different...getting high in college is about REALLY getting high, vs. having enough of a buzz to have a blast focusing on a Lego game. And this guy doesn't tell his kids he's high or do it in front of them.

I think his children will know what is going on. My 12 year old knows so much about what is going on around her, she picks up on everything.

ftmom's picture
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I think there is so much more to parenting then playing legos and having tea, and I think that is what my kids would miss out on if I was high. Sure, I would be a really fun Mommy, but not necessarily a good parent.

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I also don't think he's suggesting being high all the time. Smile

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"mom3girls" wrote:

I think his children will know what is going on. My 12 year old knows so much about what is going on around her, she picks up on everything.

That is true. I have a friend whose kid caught him smoking pot when he (the kid) was about 13 or 14. He was so mad at his dad! It ended up with a really good, worthwhile discussion, but it was a shock to the kid that his dad was smoking pot when all he heard about at school was how terrible all drugs are.

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I am not a big fan of this. I'm not anti pot smoking at all but I don't like the sentiment behind his article. Yes, playing the same game over and over and watching Annie over and over (what I'm enduring currently at my house) would probably be more rad with some pot I don't want my kids to feel I needed to self medicate myself to be with them. I don't hate doing those things over and over again because I love my kids and it's not longer about MY enjoyment it's about THEIRS. He needs to grow up.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

I am not a big fan of this. I'm not anti pot smoking at all but I don't like the sentiment behind his article. Yes, playing the same game over and over and watching Annie over and over (what I'm enduring currently at my house) would probably be more rad with some pot I don't want my kids to feel I needed to self medicate myself to be with them. I don't hate doing those things over and over again because I love my kids and it's not longer about MY enjoyment it's about THEIRS. He needs to grow up.

He's taking it for PAIN, though. He's in chronic pain.

Joined: 05/23/12
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The man had 'occasional back pain' with stress and anxiety. Ok, the occasional back pain imo doesn't have to be treated with POT? How about some healing yoga and exercise? How about some life modifications? Where is mom in all of this? Is he high with the mom home or not home? I'm unclear about a few things. His story is TOTAL crud, a total cop out. My kids would hurt themselves or each other if I was high. And there is no where in my house to hide those brownies. They know where everything is. And, also, if he thinks his kids won't notice...he better think again because kids are not ignorant. They'll be taking those brownies to school for sharing.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

He's taking it for PAIN, though. He's in chronic pain.

1. Occasional pain...for which the pot did not help..but he's cool with it (not helping and still feeling pain).
2. No time for Yoga? How about putting the ipad down and do some yoga with your kid? A zillion articles are published every year to show moms how they have time to workout, and one idea is to do it with the kiddos. There is always time, but this guy wasn't interested as he drank his alcohol and ignored his kid while glued to the ipad.

AlyssaEimers's picture
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"Jessica80" wrote:

I am not a big fan of this. I'm not anti pot smoking at all but I don't like the sentiment behind his article. Yes, playing the same game over and over and watching Annie over and over (what I'm enduring currently at my house) would probably be more rad with some pot I don't want my kids to feel I needed to self medicate myself to be with them. I don't hate doing those things over and over again because I love my kids and it's not longer about MY enjoyment it's about THEIRS. He needs to grow up.

As an aside, I am thinking of hiding the Annie movie in my house. My oldest has all the songs memorized and sings them ALL the time.

ftmom's picture
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I also don't think he's suggesting being high all the time. Smile

I didnt assume that he was, but parenting decisions can come up at any time, and it doesnt take much for a kid to realize that when daddy is taking his medicine he is more agreeable and distractable, so if I want to walk down the freeway to Sallies house, or have a sleepover at Johnnys, that is the time to ask.

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"ftmom" wrote:

I didnt assume that he was, but parenting decisions can come up at any time, and it doesnt take much for a kid to realize that when daddy is taking his medicine he is more agreeable and distractable, so if I want to walk down the freeway to Sallies house, or have a sleepover at Johnnys, that is the time to ask.

Pot doesn't do THAT to you. Maybe if you're 17 it does, but when you're an adult, you don't suddenly forget who you are or what's responsible. You just move a little more slowly, relish/experience each moment a little more, etc. There's "partying" smoking which is when you get so high you become an idiot, and then there's functional high. I used to get high to make chores more interesting, like washing the dishes, things like that. I never made irresponsible decisions I wouldn't have made otherwise, even back then when I didn't have kids.

I sound like I'm advocating being high while you look after your kids, which I'm not really, but I do see this guy's point and I think one of the great things about pot is that it teaches you to slow down, to savor the moment, to stop thinking ahead to the next step all the time or focus on your TASKS all the time and just enjoy playing with your kids. They will enjoy it so much more if you are too, and sometimes pot opens up a door for you that you can then recapture and open up for yourself afterwards. I have an aunt who's an artist and in her 60s now and still smokes regularly. She's not impaired, she leads a very productive, busy life, but she loves the way it opens up her mind to possibilities, relaxes her, and slows down the pace when she needs it. It's not like alcohol, it's not just about getting wasted.

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I'm all for slowing down and relishing the moment but I just think this guy sounds selfish. It makes it easier and more fun for HIM. Again, time to grow up.

And I used to smoke and I know I would be fine with my kids. It's just not something I want to do and I disagree with that point.

And...he is having occasional pain and stated it doesn't help with that.

GloriaInTX's picture
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Sorry I would classify anyone that has to smoke pot to get through spending time with their kids as a loser. Just my opinion.

Spacers's picture
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ITA with everything Laurie's said. One time when Tiven was younger, she was lying on her belly on the patio watching a bug, and DH said, "I think I did that once when I was stoned." Blum 3 Childhood is a time where your mind is super-wide open to anything & everything; for most adults, the only time their minds are as wide-open is when they're a bit high, not so high that they become paranoid or hyper-focused. That's because we just can't function in an adult world like that, but I see nothing wrong with experiencing that wonder once in a while. It's not the same kind of mind-opening that you get from yoga and it's not the same kind of pain relief you get from narcotics. Especially with a controlled dose that just kind of takes the edge off, and when you don't mix in alcohol like many people do when smoking pot at a party.

And, let's not forget, this is a humerous article, not a parenting-advice column. It's funny because it's tongue-in-cheek. Reread this part, if you missed it the first time:

And let?s not forget the health risks, which are rumored to possibly exist. I?ve heard that even a small amount of marijuana can impair short-term memory function. It might also affect short-term memory function.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Sorry I would classify anyone that has to smoke pot to get through spending time with their kids as a loser. Just my opinion.

Totally agree. No matter how bad of a day I have at work or how stressed I am, You know what makes me feel better??? Spending time with my kids! Big hugs and kissing chubby cheeks can melt anything away Smile You shouldn't have to be 'medicated' to love spending time with them.

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I've never been high, so I'll just take your guys' word for how it makes you feel and behave.

I do see what he is saying. Playing barbies sucks. So does playing horsies. But, I don't do it for me, I do it for my kids.

And I think we all could do better by taking a minute to watch ants crawl or the clouds blow by. Not all day. Not to the oblivion of all else. Not when we're high. Just when we are taking time to be with our kids and step into their little world.

sandy1007's picture
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Also just one more thought for those who said the kids don't know or won't notice.... How do you think they will feel later on in life when they are able to read and see this article by there dad saying that he needed pot to want to spend time with them?

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"sandy1007" wrote:

Also just one more thought for those who said the kids don't know or won't notice.... How do you think they will feel later on in life when they are able to read and see this article by there dad saying that he needed pot to want to spend time with them?

I don't think that's what he's saying, though. He's saying more that it reminded him to do it and that it was rewarding and wonderful when he did, not that he wouldn't like being with them without it.

Alissa_Sal's picture
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I don't think that's what he's saying, though. He's saying more that it reminded him to do it and that it was rewarding and wonderful when he did, not that he wouldn't like being with them without it.

Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaa! Being with my kids totally reminds me that I need to smoke more pot. What parent hasn't said that at least once, amiright?!? Biggrin :D Biggrin (Sorry, just found that hilarious!)

Joined: 11/28/06
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He is using pot as an anti-anxiety med and I don't really see the problem with that. Would everyone be so upset if he were prescribed Ativan instead? Or how about an anti-depressant (which are frequently used to treat anxiety disorders)? I don't think anyone would bat an eye at that, but because it is "pot" he's suddenly a loser and a bad parent. I just disagree.

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"Alana*sMommy" wrote:

He is using pot as an anti-anxiety med and I don't really see the problem with that. Would everyone be so upset if he were prescribed Ativan instead? Or how about an anti-depressant (which are frequently used to treat anxiety disorders)? I don't think anyone would bat an eye at that, but because it is "pot" he's suddenly a loser and a bad parent. I just disagree.

Agreed. I don't think anyone bats an eye at a glass of wine when a working parent gets home from work, either. I don't understand the difference just because one is an herb and the other is a beverage. Same overall effect. In fact, I'd say there are probably days when my kids enjoy *me* a lot more after I've had a glass of wine to help shake off my day.

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"Alana*sMommy" wrote:

He is using pot as an anti-anxiety med and I don't really see the problem with that. Would everyone be so upset if he were prescribed Ativan instead? Or how about an anti-depressant (which are frequently used to treat anxiety disorders)? I don't think anyone would bat an eye at that, but because it is "pot" he's suddenly a loser and a bad parent. I just disagree.

This.

I just had an appendectomy yesterday, and they gave me dilaudid in my IV for pain. I had never felt so high in my life and it knocked me out for a few hours and I got the best sleep ever. There are people that actually take dilaudid for pain on a daily basis and pot is extremely mild compared to dilaudid.

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"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

This.

I just had an appendectomy yesterday, and they gave me dilaudid in my IV for pain. I had never felt so high in my life and it knocked me out for a few hours and I got the best sleep ever. There are people that actually take dilaudid for pain on a daily basis and pot is extremely mild compared to dilaudid.

Holy cow about the appendix! Hope you feel better soon!

AlyssaEimers's picture
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"Spacers" wrote:

Agreed. I don't think anyone bats an eye at a glass of wine when a working parent gets home from work, either. I don't understand the difference just because one is an herb and the other is a beverage. Same overall effect. In fact, I'd say there are probably days when my kids enjoy *me* a lot more after I've had a glass of wine to help shake off my day.

One is legal, one is not.

"Alana*sMommy" wrote:

Holy cow about the appendix! Hope you feel better soon!

Get well soon.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

One is legal, one is not.

It is in his state, and he has the proper medical marijuana card to legally possess it.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

One is legal, one is not.

Get well soon.

Are you discrediting the medical benefits of marijuana? I think it is a shame there is such a stigma attached to it because it can be so life changing for some people and without all the nasty side effects that come with prescription pills.

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"Alana*sMommy" wrote:

Are you discrediting the medical benefits of marijuana? I think it is a shame there is such a stigma attached to it because it can be so life changing for some people and without all the nasty side effects that come with prescription pills.

I really do not know anything at all about pot, other than here, it is illegal. So for me, the difference between a glass of wine at the end of the day verses pot is that one is illegal and the other is not. Not having ever tried either, I do not know how I would respond under the influence of either.

As a parent, I do not feel that I need something to make me enjoy my children more. Now I do know someone who was in very serious chronic pain. If the doctor's felt that was the only way to make him better and able to function, than who am I to argue with that?

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I really do not know anything at all about pot, other than here, it is illegal. So for me, the difference between a glass of wine at the end of the day verses pot is that one is illegal and the other is not. Not having ever tried either, I do not know how I would respond under the influence of either.

As a parent, I do not feel that I need something to make me enjoy my children more. Now I do know someone who was in very serious chronic pain. If the doctor's felt that was the only way to make him better and able to function, than who am I to argue with that?

I don't need something to make me enjoy my children more either. But I'm not in pain, I'm not depressed, and I don't have an anxiety disorder.

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I don't have a drink of wine on Friday nights because I can't deal with my kids. I have it because I enjoy a glass of wine. I think people taking anti-depressants and saying without them being with their kids sucks is just as awful to hear.

I think if he left the whole part out about how it was too hard for him to tear himself away from the internet to spend a few moments playing legos without taking something whether it was booze, pot, prescribed meds I would be feel better about what he was saying.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

I don't have a drink of wine on Friday nights because I can't deal with my kids. I have it because I enjoy a glass of wine. I think people taking anti-depressants and saying without them being with their kids sucks is just as awful to hear.

I think if he left the whole part out about how it was too hard for him to tear himself away from the internet to spend a few moments playing legos without taking something whether it was booze, pot, prescribed meds I would be feel better about what he was saying.

Depression is a mental illness. It isn't as if depressed people want to feel that way about family time. Maybe it is awful for you to hear, but it certainly must be awful to feel that way too. So if medication helps then I'm all for it.

sandy1007's picture
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As somebody that has suffered from depression & anxiety I do not see why pot would be perscribed. I am a very firm believer in counseling to help you cope with those things and help you over come them. I will say I am also very anti-pot because of things that I have been around and dealt with from people that I love who do/did smoke. I just know there are other things that can be done to deal with every day stress. The thing that just eats me up about this article is how he says it doesn't really help his back pain but it helps him want to spend time with his kids. It is like he isn't even taking it for it's perscribed reason or that is how it seems to me. I totally understand having a day or two that you need to come home and have a glass of wine or just be by yourself but his is an everyday thing and it is like he is not able or willing to deal with life. I think people should learn coping skills before turning to that. Surely to goodness just checking your blood pressure and regular stuff that is done at a pcp isn't all that is required to be perscribed pot?

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"Alana*sMommy" wrote:

Depression is a mental illness. It isn't as if depressed people want to feel that way about family time. Maybe it is awful for you to hear, but it certainly must be awful to feel that way too. So if medication helps then I'm all for it.

But that's not what he is saying. He's not saying this is working for his depression or anxiety or the bad back reason he received it. He's saying it finally makes playing with his kids awesome.

Danifo's picture
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I think his example is a very poor one. He doesn't say that his chronic pain causes him to not want to play with his kids, he doesn't say he is too wound up from working, he just says that he would rather play with his iPad than his kids. Fair enough. I see parents every day a the park who are too busy on their phones to play with their kids. Some days I have had enough and I just want some time to think in my own head.

To use the alcohol reference, if someone said they needed to drink to deal with their kids I would say they have issues. If they said they had a drink to decompress from work, no problem.

My main problem with this is I don't understand how it works. People I know on pain or depression meds take their appropriate pills each day and have the correct dosage. If they chose to go beyond that, they have a problem. For pot, I only know people who use it to get high and I'm not familiar with how it is restricted for medical use. My uncles used pot to be more mellow and they weren't good fathers.

In the article he makes a flippant comment about how he could have used medication or yoga but he didn't. That bothers me. I do believe there is a medical use for pot but I also believe it shouldn't be a first choice.

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
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Thanks for the well wishes ladies.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

But that's not what he is saying. He's not saying this is working for his depression or anxiety or the bad back reason he received it. He's saying it finally makes playing with his kids awesome.

exactly! He's essentially saying, I like to get high and play legos lol