I raised a question on Twitter the other day – it was one that OnlyDads is asked time and time again: The question runs thus:
“My ex smokes Cannabis in front of the children. Do you think this is right? I’ve raised it with Social Services but their reaction is to do nothing… advice please”
The twitter reaction to the question raised was a predictable “no – it’s not OK to smoke Cannabis in front of the children” (I would say unanimous reaction apart from someone who suggested waiting until the children have gone to sleep). Reasons of illegality and not being able to care for the children properly were raised as good reasons why this is not OK.
I am not going to raise the points about the possible legalisation of Cannabis, or for me at least, the rather more interesting debate that could be had on which is worse: A bottle of Jacob’s Creek or a couple of spliffs when caring for children on your own. Rather, I want to concentrate on the question itself and why it is being asked.
But first – a quick detour on something that happened a week ago. ..
It was tea-time on Saturday and the ‘phone rang. A Dad on the other end told me that his ex-wife was due to have their son for her “once a fortnight” visit later that evening. I could tell he was in a state. The story transpired that she had been “partying” since Friday day time; he knew she had been taking a variety of drugs and drinking, (part of the reason their relationship ended) and he was really concerned about the safety of his lad going to stay with her on this occasion. There was no “edge” or bad-mouthing of his ex. Just genuine concern at the thought of breaking the contact order imposed on him.
I told him (without hesitation) that as a parent he had an overriding responsibility to keep his lad safe. If he had genuine doubts about this (which he did) then it was a no-brainer. I told him to keep a note of our conversation, to attempt to ‘phone his ex and explain why the boy would be staying with him that evening, and to basically stop worrying! The sense of relief I got back from the other end the ‘phone was palpable.
But, with the vast majority of other occasions when this question is asked, I have always found it difficult to answer. Part of me just wants to ask “why are you asking?”
I may be wrong on this, but I always suspect when the issue of cannabis use crops up, there is often more behind the question than meets the eye!?
I want to say 2 things:
Firstly – if as a parent you have genuine and immediate concerns about your child’s safety on a contact weekend – just keep them with you. Your child’s safety must come before anything else.
Secondly – if you are worried about Cannabis (or other substance) (ab)use by the other parent – then asking your GP for up to date and factual information and sharing and discussing matters and your concerns with your ex has to be a good way forward in the first instance.