Last Friday, I received an email alert from El Camino Hospital about the release of a new series called, “13 Reasons Why”. The story is based on Jay Asher’s 2007 book of the same title.
“The intensely heavy teen drama from Netflix about a high school girl, Hannah Baker, who commits suicide and leaves 13 tapes for her classmates, explaining her decision, tackles a variety of subjects from rape and bullying to drug-use and school violence.” (http://eonli.ne/2nCaDJX)
Frankly, the last thing I thought I would do over the weekend was binge watch this series and yet Saturday morning I started watching…
So what changed?
That night, my daughter asked me to make sure Netflix was on her iPad because all of the kids in (high) school are watching and talking about it. The show is super popular and it’s no different than any other mystery/murder show we’d seen.
Could that be true? No different than Sherlock or Master Chef Jr.? It certainly didn’t feel the same to me.
My initial thought was to protect my child and ban her from all things Netflix…maybe cancel Netflix?
Fortunately, my inner voice won out. Banning a show that my independence seeking, teenage daughter sent some very strong messages…none of them awesome.
Instead, we’re now watching the shows together…well virtually as she is with her mom in Palm Springs for Spring Break. So we watch and then talk about each episode.
The topic hits very close to home because it’s all about teenagers in high school, my daughter’s age and they are involved in bullying, sex, drugs, yes…some rock and roll, and an incredibly scary topic for parents…teen suicide.
I realize that in parenting we all have areas of strength and weakness. I also understand that we differ in the way we approach different topics with our children. This is the path I chose to work through the series and topics with my daughter. You will have to choose your own path on addressing or not addressing these issues with your high schooler.
In this situation, I chose to engage because it is an opportunity for conversation and understanding. It is absolutely uncomfortable and definitely not easy, but it is a worth while conversation for a daddy and his daughter none the less.
Not the easiest thing to be a parent…but the upsides are priceless!
Someone asked if the series was appropriate for a middle school child. While I am inclined to say wait until 8th grade or high school, my recommendation is that you watch the show first. There are some very mature themes and a few more tame, though still challenging topics. I would hope that the topics are addressed before the child has been exposed to it in real life and you know your child best to make that decision.