Why My Kids And I Will Be Watching ’13 Reasons Why’

13 Reasons Why. I have so many thoughts on this new Netflix phenomenon and while you may not agree with me, I feel the need to share them anyway… just as Hannah shared her 13 reasons why with others that didn’t agree with her feelings and her choice. And, when I say her choice, I say that lightly. Meaning I never have, and never will, believe that suicide should be an optional choice. Seeking counseling is a choice. Speaking to your parents is a choice. Hell, even getting drunk to temporarily numb the pain is a better choice and I don’t even drink. But, to take your life and end it permanently and permanently change the lives of those around you is never a viable option. 

I’ve read a lot of different articles about this new series and I agree with some of what I read. I don’t, however, agree with the overall witch hunt feel the articles give off. A lot of people feel that 13 Reasons Why glamorizes suicide and portrays it as an option for teens going through rough times. Let me just set the record straight. The girl wasn’t just going through a rough time, she was being sexually harassed, taunted, even raped. While the articles I’ve read believe the show minimizes suicide, I feel like the articles are minimizing the events that led up to the suicide. They are ignoring and blatantly turning their heads from the fact that the hard truths in this show are reality for our teens in today’s social media driven society. I’ve read that this show is a step by step tutorial on how to take your life….hello google! Folks, we all need to wake up and realize that whether or not we talk about it, it is happening. The events in this show are your children’s reality if they are attending school outside of their home. Keeping them from watching it at home won’t do anything to help them, chances are they are watching it elsewhere. My own children said it is all the kids at school are talking about. The series is spreading like wild fire, so why not use it as a conversation starter? 

I have watched it and I am planning on watching the whole series with my 12 and 13 year old boys. You may say, oh no, that’s too young! Well, maybe 20 years ago that age was too young, but the times have changed and children are being forced to grow up sooner than they should. As a parent, I want to equip my children the best I can for hard things instead of blinding their eyes to reality. A wise person learns from the mistakes of others. Let’s lead them to be wise. One consistent theme I see with parents is that when it comes to childhood, we still live back in “our days.” We can’t possibly understand the way our children feel living in the social media world they live in. We didn’t have that problem back in our days. If we were bullied at school, we could come home and seek refuge. That’s not an option anymore. Even if your children don’t have social media accounts, their peers do. Please don’t expect your children to meet you where you are, get down on their level, be their refuge, the one they can count on when life gets too hard for their young minds to comprehend. Please don’t push it off as “no big deal” because in their minds it is a big deal. I’m guilty of telling my toddlers, “No tattling, I don’t want to hear it unless your bleeding or someone is in danger of being physically hurt.” I realize now, what I have been teaching my children is that the small things in their life are not important enough to discuss. But you see it’s the small things in their adolescent life that add up, leading to catastrophe, and, sadly even tragedy. 

What I felt that 13 Reasons Why portrayed was devastation, sadness, darkness, permanency, words hurt and actions hurt even worse. The story told showed the aftermath of suicide. When you take your life so that you don’t feel anymore, you leave behind the feelings you tried to run away from for the people you love the most to deal with. Dreams are crushed, lives are ruined and there is no taking it back. I want my kids to feel the devastation of this truth and I don’t mean just the suicide. I want them to know that their actions, words and looks towards others matter. I want them to know that sexual harassment, rape (even when the girl doesn’t say no out loud) bullying, groping, snide looks and comments are not okay. I want them to know that just because they can’t see past today, there is a tomorrow worth living. I want them to watch this show with tears in their eyes and sadness in their hearts seeing all of the “little” situations that could have easily been handled differently and ultimately saved a life.

Why should I hide this from them? It’s happening all around them. Take these opinions of mine for what you want. I’m not a professional, I’m just a mom. I’m a mom that refuses to turn my head the other direction when I could be teaching a life lesson. I’m the kind of mom who wants to know all the bad stuff, even if it breaks my heart into a million pieces. I’m not their friend, I’m their leader.