If you grew up in a strict household full of time-outs, weeks without TV privileges, or the occasional spanking, there may have been a smokey reason behind your parents’ punishment tactics.
According to a new study published online in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Additions, and first reported by the New York Post, parents who consume cannabis are more active disciplinarians than their teetoteling counterparts.
“There are parents who say marijuana calms then down and makes them a better parent. That’s not what we’re seeing in this particular study,” Dr. Bridget Freisthler, a professor in the College of Social Work at Ohio State University and the study’s lead author, told the Post.
To reach their conclusion, Dr. Freisthler and her research partners surveyed more than 3,000 parents living in 50 different cities across California. The social scientists asked respondents about the frequency of their cannabis and alcohol use, and followed those inquires up with questions about parenting techniques, including how often the parents used non-physical forms of discipline, corporal punishment, and even violence against children.
After breaking down the data and comparing trends, the researchers found that parents who admitted cannabis use showed a 0.5% increase in strictness when compared with non-smokers. And while less than one percent is hardly a huge gap, Dr. Freisthler said that marijuana users showed higher rates of every type of punishment.
“That is not something we would have expected to see,” Dr. Freisthler said. “[Cannabis users] were more likely to use all forms of discipline more often.”
In addition to the relatively small sample size, and differences among respondent groups, a closer look at the study also indicates a few timing issues. While the Ohio State research was published online for the first time this week, the surveys themselves were conducted in 2009, before California legalized adult-use cannabis. In the decade since the research was collected, the entire country has gone through a marijuana boom, with California embracing the plant like never before. If 3,000 California parents were surveyed in the same manner this year, we’re pretty confident that the results would already look a little different.
And to be fair, Dr. Freisthler was careful not to draw any direct conclusions about how cannabis use affects parenting, but did say that she would like to continue her research into the future of legalization.
“That’s one of the things that we want to keep an eye on,” she said. “As we’re seeing more people use drugs like marijuana, are we seeing more changes in how people parent?”
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