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Father & Child Magazine Issue #34

Parenting: Consequences; The Killer Within; What Else is There?; The Truth About Juice; The Beauty Myth; Parenting Styles


  • Parenting: Consequences One of the major functions of the Father and Child Trust in Canterbury is conducting a parent education programme.
  • The Killer Within: What plans are in place by the Government and Health services in New Zealand to combat one of the highest suicide rates in the Western world? Mark Stephenson and Peter Walker investigate.
  • What Else Is There?: My kids hate sport! What else can they do? Jonathan Young offers some other options
  • The Truth About Juice
  • The Beauty Myth: Are pageants any place for our children to be? Mark Stephenson’s opinion
  • Parenting Styles: What are they and how are they important? Ron Thow takes a look What sort of parent style do you have? Take the test and find out.


Dopey Attitudes

If you can tell how popular something is by the number of names invented for it, then cannabis is huge: pot, dope and grass are just a few, and all of them carry connotations of something fun, if slightly off mainstream. Who would use the ugly word ‘drug’ for something like this?

And yet, one major cause of poverty we come across here at Father & Child Trust is rooted in cannabis smoking. By itself it’s expensive enough, but I haven’t yet met a cannabis smoker who doesn’t also smoke cigarettes.

Depending on the size of your addiction it will eat up an average weekly income within a matter of days, and it will take precedence over any bills. It’s probably also the main reason why some of our clients refuse to be referred to a budgeting service. They know exactly where the money goes.

Maybe you, too, know somebody who gets paid on Thursday and is out of money by Saturday although living a very moderate lifestyle and having few possessions.

Cannabis is not unlike alcohol in the way people think about it. Unlike alcohol it’s illegal, but nobody seems to care about that anyway. Like alcohol, it’s something you do for fun, something that is part of any good party. It’s also something that helps you sleep, something that helps you forget your problems for a while, something that you could stop doing whenever you wanted, right?

Like alcohol, cannabis is not necessarily something you get introduced to through your friends when you’re young. Just as likely it’s your own dad who’ll do you the honors, like he did when he first let you sit down with his mates for a drink. A rite of passage. We have seen boys as young as nine around here who have been introduced that way.

In other ways cannabis is more like smoking: people don’t need a reason like they (often) do for drinking. They do it when by themselves, and it tends to becomes a habit before it becomes an addiction.

Over time it rarely gets better. An unexpected windfall may be smoked away and the addiction raised to a new level. Just as with gambling and alcoholism, your relationship will likely break up over it and you may lose your job. Once away from the children, cannabis consumption often increases—the money in the bank is now all yours, and cannabis seems to help to get over the breakup blues.

Cannabis is a major factor in many of our social issues, and in many cases where fathers have abandoned their children, in body or in spirit. I wish we wouldn’t be so relaxed about its prevalence and its status in the lives of Kiwis. The myths persist that it is not addictive and too many people fool themselves for too long. Young people, who just want to be cool, are easily caught out by it.

I also wish there would be more public debate over it, beside the issue of whether it should be illegal to smoke it in the first place. And I hope that at the end of such a debate, compassion would prevail over blame.

Harald Breiding-Buss

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