If/when marijuana becomes legalized, how will that affect parenting in our nation? Will America go to pot? Or are the overworked, stressed-out, anxiety-ridden parents better off filling the void with prescription anti-depressants?
I consider myself an evangelical Christian, a self-admitted health nut, and a law-abiding citizen. Here’s the twist: I am a proud cannabis activist. In other words, I openly support the full legalization of marijuana. Yet I’ve never in my life actually consumed the stuff.
If you’ve simply been reading the story headlines on MSN.com within the past couple of years, you may have noticed the growing number of articles talking about the further legalization of marijuana; especially as more and more states having been approving its use for medical reasons- like for cancer sufferers, for example.
The issue of legitimate marijuana use is a slippery slope, thanks to the fact that the plant happens to have plenty of undeniable medical purposes.
Having grown in up the Eighties during the prime time of “Just Say No” and the D.A.R.E. program, I believed that marijuana was a dangerous drug that wrecked peoples’ lives.
But after struggling with the knowledge that marijuana has been used by human civilization for over 5000 years and there has never been one documented overdose, yet thousands die every year in America from prescription drugs, even aspirin, I figured something might be fishy about the stigma of pot.
Another thing that bothered me is that we all can easily think of 5 people we personally know who have a DUI for alcohol, but none of us can name just one person who has a DUI for marijuana alone.
So I spent a couple of months researching to find out why marijuana is actually illegal. I posted my findings on my personal blog, NickShell.com, which also hosts ”Dad from Day One,” the blog that spun off to become The Dadabase.
Marijuana possession may land you a life sentence in prison, whereas murder or rape often does not; yet the mysterious cannabis plant is quite intriguing to us, especially on the Internet where people can read about it privately.
We laughed at the pot brownies scene in Transformers 2, yet condemned Michael Phelps when he celebrated his Olympic victory with a bong hit. Americans have a weird relationship with marijuana. We know in our hearts it’s just a medicinal plant, but we continue to allow good (non-famous) people to be arrested over it; and force cancer sufferers to live without it, in many of our states.
That just doesn’t sound very Christian to me.
Based on how much actual knowledge we know about marijuana now, as compared to even 20 years ago, I am convinced it’s only a matter of time (maybe 10 years?) before it’s legal again. (It was legal from the beginning of time… until 1937.)
A lot of it comes down to a changing public perception, especially within recent years as the taboo of it has tremendously faded. Obviously, I don’t fear writing about my pro-marijuana stance here on Parents.com. It’s not something I felt the need to clear by my editors first. But a decade ago, it might have been different.
Honestly, is this even a controversial topic or am I simply preaching to the choir? I don’t know; but I do at least want to initiate the conversation.
So let’s imagine a world where anyone 21 or older can go to the store and buy a box of joints or just grow the stuff in their backyard.
Does that mean parents start abusing or abandoning their kids? Does the entire country become violent and/or unmotivated? Or is it scarier to think about the fact that an estimated 2 million Americans smoke marijuana every day? Obviously a good number of them are parents.
As a parent, I refuse to be involved in illegal activity. After all, marijuana is dangerous… because it’s illegal to obtain. But if it wasn’t illegal, then it’d be… a safe, natural relaxer that has been never proven to give anyone cancer; much less kill them or even cause someone to get a DUI.
Pour yourself a glass of wine and think about that one.
Yesterday I had to leave work about an hour early to pick up my son Jack from KinderCare: He had a temperature of 103. I knew that because he was still playful, still eating, and not showing any other signs of distress, this would be a “give him fever reducer” solution and not a “take him to the doctor” kind of thing.
But still, there’s something about knowing your child is not well that is undeniably unnerving; the thought that saving your child is not immediately up to you.
Sure, I can protect him from certain things. Admittedly, perhaps I’m overprotective: I won’t let the little guy watch TV or even drink juice. (Yeah, I one of those kind of parents!)
I’ve tried to imagine what I would do if something ever happened to him. How would I psychologically deal with that? Would I be the kind of dad that literally loses his mind if he lost his son? I want to believe that my son will outlive me. It’s both morbid and realistic to think about these dark situations, but occasionally, when I catch myself off guard, I do.
However, the world is full of parents who literally have had to lose their child, including Ruthe and Michael Rosen, whose 14-year old daughter, Karla, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.
But they decided to turn their pain into purpose.
They transformed Karla’s courage and solid optimism into a legacy of community service when they founded The Let It Be Foundation. It’s a nonprofit organization that helps families with children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.
The Let It Be Foundation provides services including opportunities for family recreation, housekeeping, grocery shopping and meals, and help in meeting the needs of the child’s siblings. This assistance enables the children and their families to maintain a sense of normalcy at home as they battle the most serious illnesses. So far, The Let It Be Foundation has brought comfort, hope, and joy to families throughout Southern California, and is now in the process of expanding its presence nationwide.
To pass on the meaningful lessons she learned from living with Karla’s cancer, Ruthe also wrote Never Give Up: How to Find Hope and Purpose in Adversity (Cypress House, Sept. 2011), a brave story of faith, hope, and joy in the face of the unimaginable. The book follows Karla’s cancer journey and her unwavering optimism, inspiring readers to turn pain into purpose. Proceeds will benefit families served by The Let It Be Foundation.
Here at Parents.com, the motto is “Healthy Kids, Happy Families.” As the daddy blogger, I want to extend the “healthy” part to parents, too. Because our kids learn their dietary habits from us, the parents.
Two years ago, I was 25 pounds heavier, but I have drastically changed my lifestylesince then to get to where I am now. So for those who are interested in heading down the straight and narrow with me as a parent, with this post I am debuting the first post of my “Healthy Parents” series.
We live in a consumer culture where it is acceptable (yet not ironic) for junk foods to come labeled in packaging telling us they are donating a portion of the proceeds to cancer research. Granted, I’m not against the occasional sandwich cookie or chocolate candy, nor am I against finding a cure for cancer or other diseases.
But am I the only one who thinks there’s something obviously illegitimate about an organization doing an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast benefiting research for Diabetes? (I actually saw that on Jay Leno’s “Headlines” one time.)
I am willing to go so far as to say that we are all fighting cancer in some way. For some of us, our parents or grandparents have been diagnosed by this serious disease and are actively fighting it.
For the rest of us who are younger, the risk may be further down the road. I want to help lead the fight through a lifestyle of prevention, alongside outspoken role models like Dr. Oz and celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.
Why don’t brands of fresh produce (fruits and veggies) feel obligated to give a portion of the proceeds to help the fight against cancer? Interestingly, those are the foods that actually fight cancer in our bodies.
I feel in our culture, it’s taboo to address the issue that collectively we are gung ho about donating money for and raising awareness of, but don’t spend nearly the same effort to prevent those diseases as individuals by our own lifestyles.
But instead of complaining about that paradox, I’m simply going to write about ways we can focus some energy on having healthy families.
Ultimately, it’s about balance; that’s the message I’m trying to convey. It reminds me of what James, the half-brother of Jesus, said about religion: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
No one deserves to get cancer or any disease. But we all deserve to know how to prevent our lives from being further affected by it.
We should fight, we should hope, we should pray. We should also use our awareness of cancer (and other diseases) for being deliberate about what we feed our families; whether or not the proceeds of our groceries go to cancer research.
Passing the Mic:
Does our culture suffer a double standard of not focusing enough on healthy eating and living an active lifestyle, while over-emphasizing on researching for a cure?
My Mexican grandmother, Lola Mendez Metallo, has always been one funny grandma, though not necessarily intentionally. Like the way she has always prefaced her jokes with “I’m gonna tell you a joke…”.
Or the fact that she literally managed to see the movie Dirty Dancing a total of 37 times when it originally came to theaters back in 1987, though she never learned to drive a car.
Not to mention the way she always found a way to delightfully sprinkle our holiday dinner conversations with mentions of the most recently escaped prison convicts she had heard about on the radio. Classic.
Plus, I’ve never known anyone more intrigued by angels. I remember how when the TV show Touched by an Angel was still on the air, she would never miss an episode and had a talent for relating every life situation back to the most recent one she had seen,especially if the episode had anything to do with an abused animal. (Her favorite show in the ’80′s was Highway to Heaven, which was also about angels interacting with humans.)
Here recently, I have been thinking about her a lot. I know her health has faded more drastically since my Italian grandfather passed away over three years ago. It’s one of those things where I know that she could just one day never wake up; or she could ultimately be here for several more years. In either case, I am consciously aware of the fact that her time on Earth is especially limited.
It’s an interesting (and sad) perspective; to know my grandma may be in her final months, yet everyday I watch my young son grow up a little bit more. I see one life coming to a close and another just getting things started. It’s a constant paradox in my head.
Knowing her time could be soon, I’m literally dealing with her passing, now; before it even happens. People deal with death differently- I guess I deal with it prematurely, reminiscing her life while she’s still here to answer questions I still have and tell her I love her several times in every potentially last conversation I have with her.
I know she’s going to love finally joining the angels she has talked so much about, but I really would mind hearing a couple more of her jokes; especially if she tells me up front that I’m about to hear a joke.
It can be easy to write off human interactions with angels as tall tales, but according to the Bible, we entertain angels unaware. Today, someone will win a free book called Angels, which helps explain the interactions of angels in humans’ lives, backed up with Biblical stories and references.
If you would like a free copy of Angels mailed to your house, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post, then within 60 minutes, send me an email (email@example.com) including your name and mailing address.
Warning: May contain many unpopular views and opinions or have been processed in a facility by a nut (myself). Tempting disclaimer, huh?
Though it may make me a heartless cynic to say so, I feel a bit overwhelmed with the constant conveyer belt of magnetic ribbons and colorful rubber bracelets showing up in popular culture, each promoting their own sincere cause. And I know where this unpopular perspective of mine comes from: I am the kind of person who is bothered when I feel that prevention is passively ignored, while the search for a cure is actively worshipped. So while it’s good when I give my money to research, no matter what the just cause, it’s also important to ask, “What can I do besides make myself feel good by giving money in the name of hope? What can I actually do?”
My Italian grandfather, who I was very close to, passed away due to cancer a couple of years ago, just a few weeks after I got married. I know what it’s like to watch someone you love have to suffer from something as awful as cancer. But just like he himself did as long as I knew him, I worship cancer’s prevention more than I do its cure. It puts the responsibility in my hands, not someone else’s. Granted, I really, really, really hope they find a cure for cancer. Soon.
In my scarcely read post, BS Detector, I explained it this way: “For all the millions of dollars we have donated to breast cancer research, the strongest findings they have released to us is this: The more fat a person consumes on a daily basis, the more likely they are to eventually get breast cancer. This does not necessarily mean that overweight people are more prone to breast cancer. Because some people eat a lot of fattening foods, yet stay slim.” So while my Shell Diet may seem a bit extreme, it’s my way of making the most of what researchers have actually learned so far from the millions of dollars we’ve donated to the good cause of cancer research. Granted, it’s not likely I am prone to get breast cancer, but I am overaware that what I eat is related to the chances of me getting or preventing some kind of cancer or disease.
In recent years, I have found myself to be confused when I see “Autism Awareness” magnets on cars. I have trouble understanding how I am supposed to physically react. If Autism Awareness is supposed to mean that people need to be aware of the symptoms of an Autistic person so that they can be more understanding when interacting with them as well as devoting a respecting reverence (not pity or indifference) towards the families of the Austistic; well, sure, I can agree to that. But now that I have a child, the term “Autism Awareness” means something entirely different to me than that.
The exact cause of Autism has yet to be determined, but everyone has their own suspicious reasons of why they think it is caused. Perhaps the most popular suspected cause of Autism is from vaccinations. Not me. While I am one of those kooky people who is very cautious of antibiotics and prescription drugs in general, yet strongly supports natural medicine for the suffering, including medical marijuana, I see no consistent evidence between vaccinations and Autism. Instead, the most convincing case I have heard of gained national attention in 2006 thanks to a Cornell University report: watching TV may cause young children to develop Autism.
In an article for Slate Magazine by Steve Easterbook, he explains that the reported number of Autistic cases shot up in 1980 (just a few months before I was born), when cable TV and VCR’s became the norm in American households. The instances of Autism were higher in states where the weather was gloomier (like Oregon and Washington) where children were more likely to stay inside and watch TV. Interestingly, cases of Autism are nearly non-existent in Amish communities where TV’s are nowhere to be found. But how could Autism possibly be tied in with TV time?
In 2009, I wrote a 14 part series called Manspeak (its table of contents is featured at the very bottom of this post), where I documented all my findings as a recent newlywed regarding the social and psychological differences between men and women. The most important theme was that men are wired to be black-and-white, “just the facts”, problem-solving machines who only process things one at a time. However, women are wired to be charismatic, “it’s a long story…”, emotional social networkers, who naturally are gifted at multi-tasking. With that in mind, it’s interesting to note that according to this article in USA Today, males are four times more likely to develop Autism than females, and children who develop Autism almost always do so before the age of three years old.
To me, it’s very clear that Autism is a social disorder caused by one’s environment, not a physical disease. Obviously though, genetics may very well play a major part in it, as with most things. I believe that when human social contact is replaced by TV’s, it alters a child’s perception of social reality. So for me, it’s no surprise that the American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends against any TV for children under the age of 2. Because it is during that time, especially for boys, that that the “social processing” part of the brain is being set-up for the rest of the child’s life.
It is my belief that when a child watches TV before their own social skills have largely developed (around age 2 or 3), the TV’s constantly changing camera angles, flashing lights, and switching channels, the child’s learns his or her social skills from the TV; therefore, Autism is developed. Obviously, people were Autistic before TV’s were around, by I have to believe that when children under the age of 2 or 3 watch TV, their chances of becoming Autistic are greatly increased.
Throughout my life, I’ve heard Autism described like this: ”It’s like having the channels constantly changed.” I take that familiar comparison as a major clue as to how Autism is largely caused. It makes sense that more boys are Autistic than girls: As previously mentioned, females are wired in a way that socially, everything is connected together and relevant. For males though, everything they do is compartmentalized. I believe that when young boys aren’t given the chance to develop their social skills on their own, unlike girls who naturally have more of a buffer or insurance against becoming Autistic because they tend not to compartmentalize things, their social life becomes compartmentalized, but with “changing channels”, as mimicked from the TV.
So how does this information affect how I handle my now 9 week old soon? I constantly make a conscious effort to make sure he is not facing our TV for any more than just a few minutes. Granted, the picture of him with my wife featured twice in this post was taken Monday night while The Bachelor was on: He was very intrigued by the women on the screen, as his facial expression reveals. (I write a recap of The Bachelor every week.) But as always, after a few moments of letting him see the bright lights of the TV, we turned him away and focused his attention elsewhere.
I know that children can develop Autism without ever seeing a TV in their life, but if I’m going to personally take “Autism Awareness” seriously, being aware of his exposure to TV early on (and by telling anyone else who is willing to listen) is a way I can actually do something and be involved in Autism Awareness.
Catch up on what you’ve missed from my 2009 series, “Manspeak”. Originally, I had intended to write a series about true masculinity for a male audience. Then I learned that the majority of my readers are actually female. So females, here’s a look into the wiring of the male mind and a reasoning for your man’s behavior. Just click on the title to read the post.