Growing up in a conservative neighborhood in Southwest Florida, I clearly recall the clucking tongues and sharp whispers of poor parenting set in motion by my best friend wearing a Suicidal Tendencies t-shirt in our 3rd
grade class. I can’t even imagine the PTA moms of those days fathoming a mother who might enjoy the odd joint in her free time, let alone one who indulges on the regular. Times have changed but has our culture relaxed its scrutiny on the stoner mom? Just to be clear, the stoner mom is a very real entity…and her voice is getting gradually louder.
A Bowl of Weed vs. A Glass of Wine
So why am I throwing all of the parental responsibility on the moms when dad is just as likely to be smoking a fatty when the kids aren’t looking? I’m not; I fully acknowledge that a mother and father should share parental responsibility. But the sad reality finds our society just that much quicker to judge a mother than it is a father. How often are fathers hit with the “poor parenting” criticism? Not nearly as often as women. It’s like men are automatically expected to sort of suck at parenting so if they can just toe the line, they’re actually excelling. Having such low expectation of fathers does men no favors, but I digress. My point is that if you catch dad slipping out to the backyard to have a sneaky joint after Thanksgiving dinner, it’s just “boys will be boys.” If the same shit goes down with a mother, a scrutinizing flip switches: “Isn’t that a bit negligent? What if her kid hurts himself and needs to get to a hospital?” Funny how the same question rarely comes up when mom’s unwinding with a glass of wine. I remember Saturday afternoons when I was a kid, my aunt would show up with a bottle of wine and her and my mother would split it. Is there anything wrong with that? Not in my opinion, nor the opinions of many others because no one ever got on them with accusations of negligence. No one saw the empty bottle of wine and asked “Well what if you needed to rush one of your kids to the hospital? What if there was an emergency?” Had my aunt and my mom been sharing a joint or two, I think reactions may have been a little different. Drinking while driving remains a more serious threat than driving stoned
yet this ludicrous double standard somehow persists.
The Aftermaths of the Reagan-Era Drug War
But let’s get some context on those Saturday afternoons in the late ‘80s. As my mom and aunt sipped chardonnay in the kitchen, I was probably glued to the TV like a dutiful young member of the MTV generation. And what was on TV? An episode of Saved by the Bell
reminding me “there’s no hope with dope” punctuated with a seemingly endless stream of anti-marijuana PSAs starring the likes of Pee-Wee Herman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yes, in those days, media was riding high on a wave set in motion by Reagan-era propaganda turning a cold war on drugs to one that was hot as hell. With the government and media feeding a steady stream of stoner shame to America, only the most self-assured mothers could dust off a water pipe without feeling a twinge of guilt since the TV would soon broadcast some melodramatic reminder that not only was smoking marijuana painfully uncool but that it would transform you into a despondent wreck with no hope for the future. And those were just the days that you weren’t selling out your friends in a mad quest for one more kiss from Mary Jane, searching with soulless red eyes surrounded by dark circles.
The Modern American Perspective on Smoking Marijuana
Today, the majority of Americans smell the bullshit wafting from those corny ads. So, over 60% of the country
recognizes that it’s not that bizarre for an average Joe to enjoy a little herb. But what about the average Jane? Is America still having trouble digesting the stoner mom archetype? Have a search through forums devoted to those who love weed and you’ll find a pretty harsh split between those who think parenting and smoking weed can go hand-in-hand and those who find it reprehensibly irresponsible. Again, this perspective wouldn’t be so hard to swallow if it weren’t for the fact that parents who enjoy an occasional drink get none of the third degree. It comes down to the simple fact that, on a federal level, marijuana remains illegal. This provides people with quite the boost onto their high horses because, hey, you’re breaking the law. And responsible parents don’t break laws. Even if those laws are continuously being proven outdated and baseless? Keep in mind that in some states, oral sex is still illegal and the possession of a Sharpie in public can get you arrested. Just a little something to consider for those who think they’re saints in the eyes of the law.
Could Smoking Weed Make a Better Parent?
While many of us are still conducting an ever-constant psychic white glove test on any woman who dares to have a child and a life, some mothers are actually being so bold as to venture that smoking marijuana actually improves their parenting skills. Is this simply a case of “I drive better when I’m drunk”? Judge for yourself if you’re the judging type: a guest blog on Offbeat Home & Life
briefly explored various ways that cannabis could actually enhance a parent’s skills. The blogger, known only as Stoner Mom, sings the praises of the revitalizing wake-n-bake and weed’s calming effects; essential for grounding a parent so s/he can remain focused and present. The blog also points out that weed can be an adhesive keeping a marriage together with the often hectic trials of parenthood. And let’s not forget that weed can be one hell of a sleep aid for that parent who just can’t shut off after a long day of cooking, cleaning, and basically having life force sucked away by a tiny human. All joking aside, I wish my father had smoked a bit of weed in the ‘80s. He’d come home from a hard day working construction absolutely furious that my mother, sisters, and I weren’t equally miserable. On some occasions, this would manifest as physical violence against my sisters and me. But in the ‘90s, he suddenly leveled out. The violence decreased and he seemed a much more amiable guy to be around. Later he’d admit to me that he gave up marijuana when my mother had me. After debilitating health from stress, he turned to marijuana again in the mid-‘90s and became, quite frankly, a better father to me. My mother was the same. I distinctly recall her beating my 3-year-old sister with a hairbrush for writing on herself with my mother’s favorite lipstick. This was not a woman who could handle the pressures of 3 children and an ever-grumpy husband. She eventually mellowed out by returning to weed too. I don’t regret my childhood but I can’t help but wonder at how much better things could have been had our society not made my parents ashamed for seeking herbal relief. I’d much rather have caught my mother smoking a joint than beating my baby sister.
Nuances of the Stoner Mom
The stoner mom is a multi-tiered concept, consistently breaking the mold of expectations. We’ve got moms that smoke for medicinal reasons, others who smoke to unwind; moms who communicate with their children about their method of relaxation, others who keep their activities secret. We even have moms that think smoking weed while pregnant is no big deal. This last type of stoner mom is particularly controversial. VICE published an illuminating story last year about prenatal marijuana smokers
, citing a study conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that found THC is transferred from mother to child in the womb. While the effects of smoking marijuana while pregnant are still lacking conclusive research, many stoner moms opt to bypass the ganja during those 9 months. But non-pregnant mothers can still face issues with child protective services due to the federal stance on marijuana; a threat that has many moms afraid to admit that they are, in fact, fully functional stoner moms.
I’m not going to draw a line between what constitutes a bad parent versus a good parent. However, I will clearly state my opinion that a good parent will continue to be a good parent, no matter whether they enjoy smoking marijuana or not. I’m not a parent myself but in my adult years I’ve met many stoner moms. Most have amazing relationships with their children. Does the marijuana make them better parents? That’s up to them to decide. All I can see from my angle is that it doesn’t hinder them in the slightest. Smoke on, stoner mom.