DEAR AMY: I am the father of a boy and a girl, ages 9 and 11. I live in Colorado, and smoke marijuana. I did not start smoking regularly until it was legal here. My kids do not know that I smoke pot, but they are not stupid — my eyes may be red, or the smell may linger when I come in from smoking in the garage. I do not smoke in the house or out in the open for the kids or anyone else to see. I’ve come to a crossroads, however, and I’m not sure what to do if the kids ask me about it. I feel it is important to be honest. My wife thinks I should protect them from thinking that their father is doing drugs. I tell my wife that it’s like alcohol, and should only be used when you’re older and the brain has fully developed. But she continues to insist that I should lie. What I am doing is not illegal. I can’t imagine I am the only person dealing with such an issue, with so much legalization going on around the country. What do you think about this?
DEAR UNSURE: The awkwardness of explaining various (unhealthy) habits to children has inspired many people to rethink these habits. If you are too embarrassed to do this openly, then perhaps you shouldn’t do it at all.
All the same, I agree (with you) that you should not lie to your kids. First of all, I assure you that they already know what you are doing out in the garage. Adolescents have an incredible Spidey sense for what their parents are up to, and they look at a parent’s choice to lie for clues about how to conduct themselves when they are doing something risky.
Your behavior is a legal adult activity, and I suggest that you leave the garage and perhaps step onto the porch to smoke, and face the music head on. (Obviously, you don’t want to expose your children to secondhand smoke.) Your kids may beg you to stop, much as I begged my father to stop chain-smoking Camels when I was a kid (he didn’t stop).
Parents who drink alcohol often do so in front of their children, with the understanding and reinforcement that this is adult behavior.
You and your wife should continue to talk about this. What are you like after you’ve smoked? Are you loopy or checked out? She may not enjoy “high Dad” as much as you think she should.
Ideally, you and your wife would be on the same page, but I also think it’s OK if you and she are transparent about the fact that you choose to do this, but she doesn’t necessarily like it when you do.
DEAR AMY: How do I tactfully tell a gal I work with (in a very small office) to stop bragging about her “happy” check (i.e.: alimony), and the large sum she got in a lump sum payoff of child support? I’m living literally paycheck to paycheck, and every time she brags about something she bought, I feel the anger just boil up inside me. I don’t begrudge her the financial windfall, but I don’t want to hear about it seven times a day! She is quite aware of my lack of money, so why must she go on and on about her luck? I feel like if I say anything, she’s going to get all defensive and make it really uncomfortable to be in the same office.
Over the Bragger
DEAR OVER: You have the right to express yourself. You don’t mention how your colleague can make things uncomfortable for you, but according to you, you are already uncomfortable.
Try saying, “I’m happy for you, but please understand that I’m financially hurting right now. So it’s hard for me to hear about your own finances.”
After that, every time she brings this up, you should take it as a signal that it’s time for you to go back to work.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the letter signed, “Like Oprah, I Love Bread.” This woman has a friend who forces wait staff to go through gluten issues ad nauseam before ordering — and then she eats bread! Please remind people that those of us with celiac disease are harmed when diners do this, because waiters tend to be less observant when lots of customers falsely claim to have gluten sensitivity.
Suffering from Celiac
DEAR SUFFERING: Exactly. Many readers pointed this out.