It is likely that if you’re the parent of a teenager you’ve heard something about the new series called “13 Reasons Why,” or at least seen it on your “Recently Watched” or “Suggested for You” list on your Netflix account. The story tells about the thirteen reasons why a teen girl chooses to commit suicide. As you can imagine, this show has been both praised and maligned, so I want to make one thing clear. This show has a Mature rating (TV-MA) for a reason, and it is largely because of how graphically it depicts the difficulties of being a high school student as well as how graphically it depicts rape, masturbation, homosexuality, violence, and suicide. These scenes are intended to disturb. For further reviews about the specific content, here is one of the better Christian reviews I found on the show to help you determine if the show is appropriate for your teen to watch with you. Also, if you decide that this show is too graphic for your teen to watch (and I certainly think it is too graphic for young teens and probably most adults), you can filter what your teen can view on Netflix by following this link here.
Your first reaction might be, “Why would I want to watch that show?” Well the reason is simple: your kids may be and possible are probably already watching it. If they aren’t, their friends are and they have at least heard about it. And if your kids are watching this show, you should watch it too so that you can help them process this heavy material.
And so, I would like to offer you 13 reasons why, if you do decide to let your teen watch this, you should be gathering your favorite movie snacks and spending some screen time with “13 Reasons Why” as well.
A final note on these ideas: also play the “spot the lie” game. There is no such thing as agenda-less media presentations. Prepare to talk with your kids about the messages being advocated to the audience of this show. What is being honored? Glorified? What is the role of faith in the show? Are adults good guys or bad guys? How much can we trust media to tell us the truth? We need to prepare our kids to be active consumers of media. After all, they are going to be consuming it when we aren’t there most of the time.
Do your best at being there for your kids and being open to them. I hope that this article helps you mentally prepare for some of the conversations that will flow from the story. The content of the show and these discussions might bring up your own difficulties and struggles. It can be a great encouragement and bonding time to share your experiences and let you kids see that there is hope.
If the conversations get too heavy or deep, you may wish to seek out a close friend or the help of a counselor. Following the release of this show, people all over the world are muddling through these conversations. Let’s use this moment to intentionally highlight and prioritize kindness, respect, and integrity in our interactions with others.
You’re not alone and we would love to join you as you take steps toward a stronger, healthier future.
I believe we all need a safe place to explore the issues that may be preventing us from experiencing a full and satisfying life. My greatest reward as a therapist is helping my clients examine ways to make the changes in their lives that will allow them to look forward to the future with hope. I am a bilingual (Spanish-English) LPC.
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