There are plenty of parents out there who say consuming a bit of cannabis helps them be a more relaxed and attentive mother or father. However, new research suggests this may not be the case for everyone.
A study recently published in Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions looked at the substance use habits of 3,023 California parents with children 12 years of age or younger. The goal was to discover how substances like marijuana and alcohol affected parenting styles and how often and what kinds of discipline parents used on their children.
The researchers defined three kinds of discipline: non-violent (removal of privileges, timeouts), corporal (such as spanking) and physical abuse (punching, kicking).
What they discovered was that when parents admitted to consuming any substances—including cannabis or alcohol—were more likely to use all forms of discipline on their children than parents who reported they hadn't consumed in the past year. This was true even after the researchers took into account other factors which may increase the use of discipline such as parental stress and depression and child and parent demographics.
"It appears that [substance] users may be quicker than other parents to react to minor misbehavior," Bridget Freisthler—professor of social work at The Ohio State University and the study's co-author—said in a press release.
While Freisthler said it wasn't clear why parents who use substances like cannabis or alcohol discipline their children more, but she suggested they might not "want their children to spoil the buzz they have, or bother them when they have a hangover."
The rate of discipline also increase with the number of substances the parents used. For instance, parents who consumed both alcohol and cannabis disciplined their children with physical abuse at a rate that was 0.5 times higher than those who only drank. And the parents who reported the using the most substances used physical abuse at a rate 1.45 times than parents who consumed only one substance.
"The use of several different kinds of substances certainly is a warning sign that parents may be relying more heavily on discipline to control their children," Freisthler said.
For Freisthler the key finding of this study is that even substances like cannabis which are widely regarded as relativity safe can still have negative impacts on both your own health and that of your children.
"Marijuana use is not risk-free. It affects a lot of behaviors, including parenting."
So while cannabis maybe a great way to unwind at the end of the day, you may want to think about whether it's having any unintended negative impacts on your parenting style.