I first heard about Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” when my sister-in-law told us that their daughter was caught watching the show at a slumber party. She was 12 at the time, and there was relief that she had only watched part of the first episode.
Later, discussion circulated on morning talk shows due to the fear expressed by many adults that the show would result teenagers attempting to mimic the show in their own lives. My own parents mentioned that they attempted to watch the show and could not finish it due to its graphic nature.
Out of curiosity, I watched the first couple of episodes to understand some of the discussion, with no ambition to finish the season. Before I knew it, I was on episode 13, and my husband joined in around episode eight. Neither one of us was able to discuss the show’s content right away.
After processing the show as an almost 40-year-old woman and listening to some of the following up discussion, I think it is wise for parents of pre-teens and teenagers to watch the show. I hope and pray that my own children never experience the pain, trauma, anger and loneliness that many of the students in the show portrayed to experience, but it could be their reality.
One thing that the show reminded me of was how every emotion as a teenager is magnified. Much of the hurt that the main character Hannah experienced prior to her final trauma, could be considered minor or insignificant in an adult’s eyes. To a teenager, the hurt can be life altering and all consuming. It is important to understand a teenagers emotions in order to help them.
Watching the show, I remembered some moments in middle school in high school that felt incredibly lonely. There were moments that I could not see a future beyond them. Finding lasting love felt unattainable, and I felt unwanted and unlovable more than once. I was very aware of how everything made me feel and was very self-centered.
Yes, I agree the show may be too much for teenager to watch, especially an unhealthy teenager. I understand the fear parents feel about their children watching the show considering it is on a forum that is difficult to monitor. I am thankful that my children are not old enough to even be tempted watch it.
Parents, it may help us understand some of the angst, feelings, hurt and pain our children may be experiencing. It may help us remember how every event and every hurt can feel like the end of the world. As adults we know life moves on, but that concept may be difficult to process for some teenagers. As teenagers, it is difficult to comprehend that someday they may be thankful for a breakup and better love is likely in the future. As adults, we know that what others think of us does not define us, but our precious children may not.
It is a difficult show to watch, but could it start some important discussions with our children? Encourage us to listen to what is they are not saying to us?
Writer Bio: Summer Bolte
I spend most of my time and days with my three kids, husband and dog. My kids frequently play near me as I garden, cook, DIY and volunteer. My most unusual paying job has to be feeding fruit flies in a research lab, and my most fulfilling job was being an oncology nurse for seven years.