Q: I am very close with my family, always have been. I am the oldest of three. When I was 20 I graduated college and moved out of my parents house, 2 hours away. After going through an extremely bad breakup which caused severe depression and drug use, 2 years later I am married and pregnant with my first child. I was brought up Catholic and taught that drugs were bad. I smoke marijuana because nothing helps more with my nausea. My parents found out and are so disappointed and made me promise I would never use it again. I promised because it would hurt too much to have my parents disown me and see them so hurt and disappointed in their daughter who they want to be so proud of. They say all I think about is myself and I should think of my family and how much I hurt them and my brother and sister. But what about how I feel? I feel like I put my family first all the time and I am always going back and forth in my head on what to do because I want one thing and my parents another. But if I don’t smoke I will get to the point of dry heaving and throwing up because the zofran isn’t enough. I have been trying to decide over and over in my head if I should stop because I promised my parents and I know how it makes them feel, or if I need to do what is best for me, and the baby, and do what I feel is necessary. I don’t want to feel guilty for doing what I feel is best for me, but that’s how I always end up feeling because somehow my family makes me feel that way. I am really stuck on what to do. Please help.
A: I suspect that your parents were traumatized by your drug abuse when you left home and they are terrified that you are going to fall back into bad habits. Meanwhile, you have moved past that period of your life and are trying to deal with the present problem of severe morning sickness. It’s possible that the argument isn’t about using marijuana. It’s about whether or not you are able in danger of being dependent on drugs.
The first person you should be talking to is your doctor. I’m by no means an expert on whether or not smoking marijuana is or is not potentially harmful to your baby. The cursory research I was able to do seems to indicate that it is controversial. I hope your doctor is up on the research and can give you solid information. If she or he supports you in smoking as a way to control your sickness, ask if she or he will help you talk with your parents about how the benefits outweigh the risks. Your baby and you need nutrition.
Let your parents know that you understand why they are so worried. Reassure them that you aren’t smoking to avoid dealing with life and that you have no intention of being dependent on drugs. If it’s safe, you are smoking to take care of yourself the best way you know how.
If your doctor supports you and parents are still adamantly opposed, you have another problem: How to establish yourself as an adult with your parents.
You and your husband are making a new family. Your first loyalty needs to be to that. If the two of you are convinced you are doing what is best, you need to kindly tell your parents that as much as you love them, you need to disagree with them on this issue. At 25, you are an adult and entitled to make your own decisions. If you can do this matter-of-factly, you will be showing that adulthood. Seeing things differently isn’t something to feel guilty about.
I don’t know your folks, of course. But most parents would find it hard to stay mad once a grandchild is on the scene.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Dec 2008
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Pregnant, smoking weed, fighting with parents. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/12/17/pregnant-smoking-weed-fighting-with-parents/