The first modern-style vaporizer in the history is believed to be created and patented in 1960, by a Korean war veteran Herbert A. Gilbert. It’s amazing that the basic anatomy of a vape is still pretty much the same as Gilbert designed it. Towards the end of the 20th century, Bill Amato created a cult at the Sensi Seed Bank’s Hash Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands with his outsized weed vaporizer, which won several awards at the exhibitions. His biggest success is known as the “shake and vape” vaporizer.

Early and mid-2000s mark the modern era of vapes when many manufacturers started creating and selling small, portable vaporizers. Some of the early vapes looked pretty much like a real cigarette and are sometimes referred to cig-a-likes. Nowadays, you can find vaporizers in all shapes and sizes, from giant desktop models to portable ones that are as small as a memory stick.”

We discovered that vaping is 95% safer than cigarettes. However, Tiffany never smoked, so this isn’t a benefit to her. Despite learning the potential risks, she decided that she still wants to buy a vaporizer. When asking her why, she said that it was, “fun”. She also said that almost all of her friends either drink, smoke weed, or smoke cigarettes. As troubling as this sounds, in my experience, this is normal experimentation for a teen and nothing to be fearful of. Tiff shared that she has no desire to do any of those things, despite the fact that most of her friends do. She shared that if she ever wants to, she will talk to us about it and that she has no interest in anything else but vaping, at this time in her life.

This is powerful to understand, living in a partnership-based parenting paradigm. Where there is not the fear of looming punishment or control, there is no reason to lie, sneak, or hide what you are doing, as a teen. My children have always had open lines of communication with me. I knew the first time that Devin tried smoking weed in Peru, at age fourteen. He Skyped me to tell me about it. Although I had a slight sting in my heart, initially, I was so glad that he was able to be honest and tell me about it. He shared details of how it made him laugh and how silly all the teens were together who smoked it. He shared the adventures of looking to buy it and how another teen in Peru put himself in a dangerous situation when trying to obtain it, having parents who controlled and punished him. With this kind of open line of communication with my children, they are undoubtedly, safer. When a parent is in an authoritarian paradigm, the fear surrounding the punishment and the danger that comes as a side effect of control, warps the human condition and the relationship to that which is being controlled. This is why so many people abuse, overuse and consume in such unbalanced ways. Fear and control damage the ability to find balance. This is something deeply misunderstood by most in our culture.

When humans have a need to explore and experiment, they will do so, despite others telling them not to. Freedom and autonomy is at the heart of peaceful parenting and liberty, itself. Without this trust and freedom a parent is putting their child in danger, because the need for expansion and growth will always override the parents desire for obedience. It is unrealistic to expect a child or teen to put the adults need for obedience, over their own need to experiment and experience. Knowing this, what is a parent to do? Well, firstly, let go of the idea that your children are safer when you control or threaten them. They aren’t. Threatening, punishing, forbidding or banning things that your child wishes to explore will only cause them to have an unnatural relationship with the thing being controlled. Instead, connect, research, discuss and try to understand their needs and perspective. It can be helpful to remember what it was like when others tried to control you, at their age.

Considering all that I have learned about this new “vaping culture,” I know that there are much worse things that my daughter could be doing.  I am grateful she has the freedom to openly share her desire and have parents who support her decision. I am thankful that she can voice her curiosity to explore and experiment, without fear. I don’t think that there is a parent alive who is thrilled when their child wants to experience something that is potentially dangerous. However, as human beings this desire is in our nature. We need to look back at who we were, and who we are now and extend that basic understanding to our children. We also need to learn how to navigate the emotions and triggers that arise, while doing so.

Tiffany ordered her new vape, last night. It has an eagle on it and is colorful and pretty. When she excitedly showed me the one that she wanted, she said, “Mom, this is totally you!” knowing that I love beautiful, bright colors and animals.  The connection and love that we’ve exchanged through learning about this together has been something that I will never forget. It has been a powerful time of learning to support and embrace an aspect of my daughter that isn’t broken, bad or damaged. This part of her that wishes to experiment is perfectly whole and healthy and it will remain so, as long as I stand by her side and support her as she navigates this innate human longing for expansion and growth. Who knows, maybe I will even try it. After all, I am curious and that is not a bad thing. It is simply, being human.