Monday, April 10, 2017

13 Reasons Why...A Review for Parents

There's a series out on Netflix right now called "13 Reasons Why."  It's based on a book by Jay Asher.  If you have teens/pre-teens and haven't heard of the series yet, more than likely they have watched it or know someone who has.

We all have our own parenting style.  This post is NOT designed to tell you how to parent your child and what you should and should not let them watch/read.  That is up to you.

I read the book a few years ago and liked it--it made me think.  It's based on a suicide.  Hannah Baker takes her life, but before she does, she records tapes letting people know why.  I say people and not everyone, because each side of the tape is about a person and how they contributed to her suicide. Once they listen to the tapes, they are to pass them along to the person after them.  There are 13 people she names--hence the name of the book/series. The series goes way more in-depth/graphic than the book and there's talk of a season 2.

As parents, I think shows like this are critical for us to watch.  They are hard and definitely not how I want to spend my down time, but they are necessary.

Here are my 13 reasons why you should consider watching it if you are a parent:
  1. As parents, we need to know what our kids and their friends are watching.  Even if you choose to not let your child see something, they may hear about it from their friends.                                                                                                                                                                                             
  2. Bullying is not just physical.  This series does a great job of depicting other sides to bullying and how language matters.                                                                                                                                                            
  3. As much as we will protect them, they will be exposed to alcohol and drugs.  This series shows what that looks like in a realistic way--how things happen when they are not in complete control of their senses. How "harmless" drinking isn't harmless.                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  4. Popular does not equal Happy.  Remember when you were in high school and you thought how much easier life would be if you were the most popular kid?  Our kids need to know that EVERYONE has issues--no matter how well liked they are.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  5. Social media, while a great way to connect with friends, can have irreversible effects.  If you are like me, you probably harp on this all the time with your kids, but it IS real.  Hannah traces her feelings of despair back to one picture that was shared and taken out of context.                                                                                                                                                                              
  6. No one is an island.  Everything we do affects others.  Our kids need to know this. George Bailey figured this out in "It's a Wonderful Life."                                                                               
  7. Rape happens more than we want to think it does.  In looking for statistics, I found that 1 in 5 high school girls report dating violence.  I hated the rape scenes in this series--partly because I know it happens just like they were depicted.  It was so very hard to watch.                                                                                                                                                                                            
  8. It's okay to not be okay.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness--it's courageous.  Every one of us struggles at one time or another.  We don't have to always have it all together.                                                                                                         
  9. People will let you down.  No one person will ever be perfect--except Jesus.                                 
  10. There is hope.  No matter how dark things seem, there is ALWAYS hope. The suicide scene at the end was horrific.  It was depicted differently than the book and as hard as it was to see it, I think it was more realistic in showing how it's NOT an answer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  11. Good kids make bad choices.  I once read that all teens lie to their parents.  We want to think ours won't do that, but chances are, they will.  They will not always get it right--no matter how well-grounded they are. They will disappoint us and maybe even themselves.                                                                                                                                                                                              
  12. One word/action has the power to change life for someone.  This sounds dramatic, but we've all had one of those days when someone says something kind or unkind to us and it changed the trajectory of that day.  There is a scene in one of the episodes where one of the students even says this--they each had the power to do something, but they each chose to do nothing.                                                                      
  13. We have to talk to our kids about these issues.  Even when it's uncomfortable. Even when we think they aren't listening.  Even when we didn't make good choices ourselves at their age. It's important for them to know we are their safe place and that our love for them is not conditional on their actions--even though we will always pray they do the right thing.  
Again, I want to re-iterate that I think PARENTS should watch this.  You can decide whether you want to let your kids see it.  BUT, I will also tell you I've talked to several whose kids are watching it already.

If you've seen it, I'd love your thoughts.  Are you letting your kids watch it?  Why or why not?


MST said...

As a mother of 5(my oldest daughter was bullied and hospitalized in 8th grade for mental health issues)and a middle school teacher in an affluent area, I read this book over 4 years ago. My students LOVE it. It is in my private library at school, but I don't recommend it to students. If they ask for it, I let them check it out with the warning that there are sensitive subjects discussed and that they are responsible for checking with their parents before reading it. I promise that by the end of their 7th grade year, your children are more aware of the subjects discussed than you think. I hear them in the hallway and cafeteria. I never see physical bullying as a teacher. I witness a much more insidious bullying-social ostracism and isolation. It is much harder to fight. Overall, good kids don't stand up to the bullying for fear of becoming a target vicariously. It is self preservation and I can't blame them. Even adults struggle to involve themselves in order to avoid drama. The schools are not responsible for this trend. It is so much bigger than that. It is a systemic issue of our current social media driven society. I hate that schools feel villanized. 99% of teachers went into the profession because they love kids. As parents we have a responsibility to not only raise our children to be compassionate, but we need to arm them with the tools needed to survive it.

Angel said...

I was a kids pastor for many years and was always surprised by the number of parents who didn't think their 4th grader knew anything about sex. I think too many of us put our heads in the sand, hoping it will blow over--never realizing the seriousness of the situation.

I am sorry about your daughter--as much as we talk about bullying now, it still happens. i mentioned it in the post, but I was really struck by the fact that most of the kids in the show were considered to be the "good kids." It IS our responsibility as parents to continue to talk about these subjects and to ask the questions like "Who sits alone at lunch and why?"

Thank you for what you do--middle school years are so very tough and we need as many other strong adults as possible surrounding our kids and speaking truth into them.

Laura said...

Angel, I was not planning to binge watch this show... ever, never mind over Spring Break. You have thoroughly convinced me that it's something I need to do just because I love my students.

MST said...

Thanks Angel! You made some fantastic points in your blog! I am watching the series as I write this.

Angel said...

What grade do you teach, Laura? I will warn you, there are scenes that will stick with you--they are H.A.R.D. It lulls you in with the first few and gets more graphic as it goes! Let me know your thoughts after you read it!