DEAR ABBY: Our 16-year-old son uses instant messaging, and we often "check in" on what he is saying and who he's speaking with. Although he knows we keep abreast of what he's doing online, he's obviously unaware of how much detail we have access to.
My husband and I know that our son is considering smoking pot and that his other friends do it occasionally. One boy in particular seems to be encouraging him to try it and is offering to provide it. This friend has dealt to others in the past.
We have a firm "parents have to connect" rule when our son wants to go to someone's house, to ensure that the teens are supervised. Our problem is, although the homes have parents "on duty," the friends are allowed to walk to town for a pizza. It's clear from reading the IMs that the boys are taking advantage of this loophole to get high.
How do I tell my son's friend's parents that their child is smoking pot and is the source for several others? -- AWARE IN LAWRENCE, MASS.
DEAR AWARE: Tell them in plain English -- and do it quickly. When someone is the source for others, in the eyes of the law it is considered "dealing," the penalty for which can be years in the pokey. And if you haven't already done so, inform your son that the penalty for smoking pot when -- not if -- you catch him will be severe.
Last February, I printed a letter from Marc Galanter, M.D., the director of alcoholism and drug abuse at New York University Medical Center. In it he said: "(W)e know that illicit drug use changes the developing brain. Many young people smoke pot before their brain development is settled, and their chronic use of the drug can affect certain centers in the brain that control emotion and reason.
"Research shows that regular use ... may also lead to mental health problems. Youth who use marijuana weekly have double the risk of depression later in life, and are three times more likely than non-users to have suicidal thoughts."
In light of Dr. Galanter's warning, it's time the other parents are made aware of what their teens are having with their pizza.