By now every parent in the world has heard of Netflix’s, 13 Reasons Why and everyone has some sort of opinion, whether good, bad, or indifferent. I’m not going to tell you what is “good” for your child to watch. Good and bad play no part in what the grand scheme of the show is trying to show. Was it graphic…yes…suicide is graphic. Did it blame other people and not talk about mental health…yes…but sometimes after what happened to a girl like Hannah, anxiety and depression creep in.
All this is not the point.
The fact is, certain shows or movie or video game or even commercials aren’t “good” or “bad” for your child. It’s how those things are explained to your child that matters.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your kids about “13 Reasons Why.”
Some Background First
As many people who read my blog know, I lost my sister to suicide in 2015. Her death has sparked something in me. After constantly reading about youth suicide in the news, I’ve recently made it my mission to have a formal suicide prevention program in every school in America. I also want to include coping skills, mindset makeovers, and a “caring adult” (where every child will have and name a trusted adult they can turn to in times of crisis) aspect to those programs.
Here are a few tips on how to talk to your kids about “13 Reasons Why.” Even if you don’t allow your child to watch the show, they are going to watch it at a friend’s house, or hear enough about it to be confused. Instead of being up in arms about the airing of the show, be up in arms about the premise of the show. The reality is, kids are killing themselves and, in some cases, other kids are to blame. Just give me the benefit of the doubt and read further.
Words DO hurt
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can sometimes kill me. Talk to your children about the power of words. As adults, we know that words can be said in anger, that can never be taken back-and they hurt-BAD. Instill in your child the belief, “Don’t say anything to another child, you wouldn’t want said back.”
On the other hand
Explain to your child, no matter what anyone says about them, believing in yourself & having the confidence to know you’re amazing-are the most important traits to have. This confidence is what is going to get you through your day. Try to explain to them (I say try, because they are not going to believe you)-this will not last forever.
Middle school doesn’t last forever
High school doesn’t last forever
Things can change-things will change-just give life a chance
Things can change-things will change-just give life a chance Click To Tweet
DON’T Allow Anyone To Put Their Hands On You
Whether it’s a girl touching your hair, to a boy snapping your bra-it is not ok for someone to touch you. It is not acceptable and should not be tolerated by the child, the teacher, the parents, or the school system. Talk to your child about having a trusted adult they can go to, if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you about things like this.
And God forbid, someone forces themselves on your child…..
My children know who their trusted adults are and they know how to get in touch with them if need be.
Also, in serious situations, such as this, not only should you contact the school verbally. You should also send something to the school in writing, copying your Board of Education, explaining the situation in detail. School should be a safe place for kids and it’s turning into a nightmare for some kids. It needs to stop.
DON’T Be A Bystander
I know, in this day and age, we tell our kids, “Don’t get involved in other people’s drama.” We, as parents, need to understand, our children witnessing someone being humiliated or (EVEN WORSE) hurt by another child, is detrimental to their mental health, as well.
They need to feel comfortable, going to a trusted teacher, or you, and letting you know that another child is being hurt at school or around the neighborhood and you need to help that child. Whether it is by contacting the child’s parents, the school, the police-just get someone to help the situation. Instill in your child-If you see something, say something.
DO Explain Suicide
Unfortunately my kids, who are 8, 9, and 11, know about suicide. When my sister killed herself, they were devastated. I didn’t tell them at first. I knew they were going to find out so I wanted to be the one who told them. It was hard and they were confused (they’re still confused, I think) but they have come to a place of acceptance. A place I will never get to.
You may disagree with my decision to tell them the truth
I figured in a time when 11 year olds are killing themselves, it’s better to be honest than politically correct.
Let them know the basics-
Suicide is not glamorous, it’s gory and raw
This is not a TV show-suicide is forever-it’s final-it’s the end
And the people left behind are devastated and broken and incomplete because of it.
DO Take Their Feelings Seriously
Kids need to feel heard. This is where that trusted adult comes in handy. In some cases, kids feel it is their parent that is driving them to feel the feelings they’re having. So obviously, they’re not going to go to that parent to discuss these feelings.
If your child does come to you showing signs of depression or anxiety, take these symptoms seriously. Talk to their pediatrician honestly about your child’s behavior. They will supply you with instructions on what to do next.
Give your child the suicide prevention number 1-800-SUICIDE
In the end, whether you allow your child to watch “13 Reasons Why” or not-they are going to either watch behind your back or hear enough about it that they will know what it’s about. Even if the show never existed, kids need to learn about suicide prevention.
They need to understand bullies are going to bully. You can’t control how someone else acts. What you can control is how you react to those actions.
The show has tons of pros and cons, but so do a lot of other shows, movies, video games, YouTube videos, etc. There is only so much we can shield our kids from before the world is thrown in their faces.
In a perfect world, every kid would be happy and healthy and everyone would be friends but we have this world. Try to make it as perfect as possible for your child.
Be the pillar of strength your kid needs-be their rock-be their constant
And if you can’t be-find them a trusted adult so they can go to them anytime they need them. An aunt, uncle, teacher, coach, clergy can be there for them.
Did you allow your child to watch “13 Reasons Why?” Did they watch it somewhere else? How did you talk to them about it? Let me know in the comments.
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