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Erowid Families and Psychoactives Interview Series
Dialog with AC
Interview by Erowid
AC is an MD clinical psychopharmacologist. His daughter has a Masters in Public Administration and his son has a Bachelors degree in computer science.

AC: For better or worse, my kids' mom and myself were open with my daughter and son from the very beginning. It's interesting that many of our hippie friends never told there kids about their use, and even hid smoking pot from them. We kind of allowed them to know as much as they were interested in, and that may have been related to them being more honest with us when they began experimentation. We told them the good and bad and also instilled some 'healthy' paranoia. My daughter is fairly straight, but on occasion will experiment with her husband. My son, who's 24, tries various things but seems careful while curious and interested. For us the open policy, titrated to their interest and maturity, worked best while teaching them what they needed to know to protect themselves and the family.

Erowid: Can you talk a little more about specifics of what you told them, how, when… Like did you talk to them about how things felt? .

AC: Not until they were curious enough to ask did we talk to them and then we gave our opinions of everything. We tried to be fairly even handed in dealing with things including ETOH [alcohol] and tobacco including pluses and minuses, the individuality of the experiences, which seemed to cause dependency or physical problems. The fact is their early curiosity, interest and experimentation all happened in the context of what their friends were doing, rather than anything we said or offered.

Erowid: Did you talk about problems that other people had? Did they witness unhealthy use patterns at all? Did they see healthy ones? .

AC: Yes, they witnessed both and heard about that as well. Once when my daughter was about 13 or 14 she ended up sitting for me when I had a rough time on mushrooms out in the country and there wasn't anybody else available. I told her some of what was happening with me, she knew the etiology. She didn't quite understand what I was dealing with, but was nurturing and comforting and seemed much less traumatized by the experience than I was. They've also known family and personal friends who have developed unhealthy patterns and life difficulties with meth and IV cocaine.

Erowid: When did they first try smoking cannabis (usually the first schedule I people try)? .

AC: They both started smoking with their friends in early high school. My daughter quickly discovered she didn't like it and stopped until her mid twenties and now smokes infrequently with her husband or friends. My son has used small to moderated amounts of THC since that time, depending some on finances, availability and what's happening in his life.

The bottom line is that I don't think that our rather total openness really affected the pattern of our kids' use or abuse only that they were a bit more open with us about their interests and experiences, coming to us with their untoward effects, questions and related matters. Both had one or two 'bad trips' during high school and called us for assistance, which is reassuring as a parent.

The last couple of years my son and I have used together perhaps a half dozen times, a variety of compounds and classes. I've found it valuable and feel it's deepened our relationship. There are a variety of reasons it didn't start earlier, having to do with the dynamics of our relationship and our particular issues. My daughter questioned me about this recently, asking whether I'm closer to him now than her because of this. It's sort of a sibling jealousy kind of thing. The fact is that she and I have always had a deep understanding and closeness, but she still likes reassurance every now and then.

I hope this is of interest. The kids mom and I made a conscious choice right at the beginning to provide as much info as our son and daughter seemed to want while letting them know the realities of the risks, legalities and societal attitudes that they could understand. We weren't always sure this was the right thing to do, but in hindsight, it turned out to be right for the four of us.