DR. WALLACE: I'm a 17-year-old girl, and I am best friends with another girl who just turned 18. She and I have been best friends throughout high school. I was pleasantly surprised recently when she told me her parents were not at all upset with her when they found a few marijuana cigarettes in her room. She and I smoke together once or twice a week, but we are discreet and don't advertise this to any of our other friends. We just like a bit of pot here and there to take the edge off, especially in the crazy times we are presently living through.
I think that if that same exact situation happened to me, my parents would go off the deep end and give me a long lecture on the dangers of drugs.
Why do you think her parents are so lenient, while mine are so strict? — Closet Cannabis User, via email
CLOSET CANNABIS USER: Believe it or not, your parents may be the exception, and hers may be the norm these days. But I'll grant you that I am loosely using the terms "exception" and "norm." I say this because most recent nationwide studies find that just over half of all parents would not be upset to learn their children were experimenting with cannabis.
The reason? Today's parents were more likely to have used marijuana themselves when they were younger than those in previous generations, and they see less risk in cannabis experimentation, making them less likely to speak to their children about it. While still over half of today's parents of teens believe it's important to discuss the overall topic of all drugs with their children, only some of them actually follow through with an in-depth conversation on the topic of cannabis use.
I should also mention that a very large percentage of parents show no such leniency when it comes to harder drugs. In short, there now appears to be some social acceptance of the use of cannabis, but parents of today's teenagers universally frown upon any other type of drug use.
NOT A LECTURE; JUST THE FACTS
DR. WALLACE: I have been dating my boyfriend for almost 2 years, and we love each other very much. In all of the time we've been together so far, we have not been sexually active. But now I feel the time has come for us to have sex.
Naturally, I don't want to get pregnant. I have already visited my doctor, and I plan to use the pill, and he will always use a condom. I realize that using only the pill or only a condom does not give a couple 100% protection. But if we are wise enough and disciplined enough to always use these two methods together without fail, what is the risk of pregnancy? — Planning Ahead, via email
PLANNING AHEAD: Used properly and together, the pill and the condom offer roughly 99% protection from pregnancy. That means for every 100 couples who use "double coverage" to avoid pregnancy, 1 would face the possibility of becoming parents. Only abstinence will offer 100% protection. Please don't consider this to be a lecture; it's just a fact, but it's a very important one for you to consider.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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