Thursday, October 8, 2009

San Francisco: Teenager's Problems with Father Smoking Pot

The Atlantic Monthly started a new feature a few months back, "What's Your Problem?" by Jeffrey Goldberg. Sort of like "Dear Abby", this includes questions from readers with Jeffrey Goldberg's advice. In the October issue, the column concluded with this exchange:
I’m in high school and my father smokes a lot of pot. He does it privately (in our living room), but I just found out that he buys his pot from one of my friends. My friend is in college, and he told everyone that he’s my father’s dealer. Should I tell my father to stop smoking pot, or to just stop buying from my friends?

J. P., San Francisco, Calif.

Dear J. P.,

What your father is doing is terribly selfish. It sounds as if you have more sense than he has. You must lay down the law: absolutely no buying illegal drugs from your friends. You are being raised in a catastrophically lenient household (has your father never heard the tragic story of Robert Downey Jr.?), and you’re going to have to be unequivocal. And by the way, how did he convince you that the living room is “private”?

I think this is terrible. J. P. asked, "Should I tell my father to stop smoking pot, or to just stop buying from my friends?" and Goldberg's answer seems to imply that he should "lay down the law: absolutely no buying illegal drugs from your friends." I hope Goldberg is just being funny. Otherwise I have no idea what the morality is here. Why is buying the illegal drug's from the child's friend somehow worse than using illegal drugs?


poetreader said...

Yes, "Dad" is quite wrong. However, it is considerably worse that he buy the stuff from the boy's friend, from the standpoint of the total disrespect he shows his son in that way. I would find his cavalier attitude toward the boy to be a far more serious matter than the use of the substance.

What I do find troubling in the advice is its utter disregard for the Fourth Commandment. Certainly the son should speak truth to the father, even if it be a corrective, but what Scriptural authority is there for him to "lay dowen the law"? Perpetua stood firm in doing as God required of her, but there was no trace of her trying to force her father to behave properly. Rather she accepted the cost of doing right while showing entire respect to him.


Perpetua said...

Hi poetreader,

I don't understand why buying the pot from the boy's friend is obviously disrespectful to the boy. If smoking, and therefore, buying pot is OK, then buying from the boy's friend is helping to support the boy's friend's business. So I see not reason to assume it is disrespectful to the boy. Why would the boy object to his father smoking pot but not to his friend dealing pot? Would you please explain this world view?