How To Talk To Your Kids About “13 Reasons Why”

13 Reasons Why

The Facts

 

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.”

 

13 Reasons Why
Welcome to your tape

 

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.

 

13 reasons why

 

 

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.

 

 

13 Reasons Why

 

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

 

Conclusion

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.

 

Also, please share this post with other parents.  Thank you

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30 thoughts on “How To Talk To Your Kids About “13 Reasons Why””

  1. I watched it with my 12 year old. A student from her previous school (we are military ane moved in Dec) committed suicide shortly after our move. We had conversation, but this movie opened up more dialouge. Things I’ve said before about attending parties, dating, being mindful of actions, coping skills, etc. I speak and run a site about self-esteem, and antinti-bullying in our youth, but of course I’m mom. This movie showed her all the things I try to teach her and her sisters. I believe our kids are lacking in coping skills. Bullying and jerks will never go away.

    1. I completely agree, bullies will never go away, we need our education system to realize kids need emotional intelligence as well as “book learning” Thank you for your sincere comment!!

  2. My son did watch it bc his girlfriend had to read the book for school so then he read the book and when it came out they watched it together the. I watched it and we did in fact talk about it and we are still talking about it

    1. That’s great Michelle. It’s so important to not blame the show for opening this discussion up. It is such an important thing to talk to kids about.

  3. Such an important message to speak with kids about. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister and I am sure she is so very proud of your efforts. Much needed!

  4. This is a great post, and I am happy to hear these tips. I have heard so much negativity about this show, and I have the exact same thoughts that you have-we need to talk about it and not ignore or accuse the main character of being “dramatic” (actual words that I have seem on my facebook feed). Thanks for the great post!

    1. I agree. A character is not “dramatic,”, exactly like you said, we need to start a conversation about this. Thank you for your comment

  5. My husband and I watched the show and ended up having very detailed conversations about the kind of parent we want to be as our toddler grows older. Whether or not you like the show, it brings up important issues to discuss with your spouse and children. As a teacher, I know that bullying is real and pervasive. The best thing I have seen as for parents and educators keep that line of communication open, as you are suggesting. Knowing that you can talk about the “hard stuff” and that you will listen, builds trust with kids. Thank you so much for sharing your story and encouraging the discussion of this very important topic.

    1. Thank you for your comment Brittany, I’m so glad that you, as a teacher, agree that a discussion needs to be had about topics like this. I am actually going to talk to my Board of Ed on the 17th to see if they will agree to a suicide prevention program. Thank you again!

  6. Right now my oldest child is 7, so he will not be watching it. However, I talk about most of the things you mentioned with my kids. I am the child of a mother who killed herself. I also was suicidal for a time. I consider myself a success story and fully recuperated from that time in my life, but that show, man it brought it all flooding back. I had no idea what the show was about when I queued it up, a heartbreaking binge watch later, I was shaken. Some of the things they portray are so spot on it can bring you right into that moment. That show is dangerous for many different reasons. I love some of the messages they tried to put across, go they extra distance, be kind, suicide is not beautiful. But I hate some of the others they might not have meant to, other people are in control of your life and how you feel, that your death can have more meaning than your life, and that you can be the reason for someone’s suicide.

    1. I agree there were many pros and cons of the show. And I don’t think a 7 year old should watch it. I wouldn’t even let my 11 year old watch it but unfortunately my kids know what suicide is, so I try to explain situations that may come up later on in life for them since they already know the topic of suicide. I’m so sorry about your mom…thank you for sharing your story with me.

  7. Great points, I personally haven’t watched the show as I rally don’t like anything with suicide in it. A classmate and friend of mine committed suicide whilst I was in secondary school, it was one of the most harrowing days of my life. I will always remember my mum hugging me a little closer that day and telling me that ‘it will never be that bad’ and no matter how horrific it may ever feel to me, I can always go to her. It has stayed with me my whole life.

    Sophia x http://sophiawhitham.co.uk

    1. Wow, I’m so sorry about your friend Sophia. Your mom is an amazing parent. After losing my sister to suicide, my girls were devastated, they loved their aunt like no other person on this earth. I had to have a very hard talk with very young children about suicide loss. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you sharing that with me.

  8. This show has sparked a great deal of controversy. I haven’t read the book, nor watched the show because my kids aren’t yet at that age. I love your explanation though. When the time comes to have these conversations, I’ll have this post pinned to remember!

    1. It has sparked a lot of controversy. I’m about to go up and speak to my school board about stronger suicide prevention/emotional intelligence programs at our school system. Our school does not even say the word suicide, to any of the students. I feel like it’s time to stop pretending this isn’t an epidemic and start being proactive. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I sincerely appreciate it.

  9. Thanks for sharing this.
    People are up in arms about the show, but they are forgetting to talk about it in the right way and to think about what the themes are and how very real they are in real life.
    Sure it was tough when I was in school – I finished 12 years ago, but I cannot imagine how it is for these kids now!
    Good luck with your mission and sending blessings for your healing x

    1. I agree Angela. People are so quick to jump all over the creators of the show, when really they should be using this as an opportunity to speak to their kids about suicide prevention and emotional issues. Kids need an adult they can trust to talk, most kids don’t want that to be their parents, and that is understandable, but they need someone they can go to in times of trouble or just to talk. Thank you for your comment Angela, I appreciate you taking the time to write

    1. Thank you for reading. I appreciate it, kids these days have it rough. Back in the day if you were having a problem with someone, once you got home it ended, but now with social media, it never ends. Kids need to start dealing with these intense emotions. I hope to help with that. Thank you for your comment

  10. I loved this post♥ I feel like, as a mom, we have to aware of the tings and trends that go on in our children’s lives so that we know how to follow up about them with our children, especially ones like these that are such a serious topic! I like how you talk to your children about it rather than trying to restrict them from watching it, because I do feel it is an important topic to talk about with your children!

    -Danielle Ruppert // danielleruppert.com

    1. Thank you so much Danielle, I agree. Our kids take queues from us….so if our first response to things is to flip out and scream and tell, that will be how they deal with things. I just want kids to know that they are heard, and their feelings are valid but there are certain ways to deal with life’s problems. Thank you for your comment!!

  11. first off, let me say i’m sorry you lost your sister. and second, i almost didn’t click on this post because i’m already tired of hearing all the opinions about 13 reasons. people are upset because it’s a conversation nobody wants to have but the reality is, this is happening every single day. i’m certified in suicide prevention and intervention and i’ve worked with a number of teenage kids of who have tried to take their own life and i’ve intervened when others were planning to. it breaks my heart. thanks for your post and cheers to getting your program in schools throughout the nation!

    1. Thank you so much Alison. Sorry it took so long to get back to you, I’ve had a very busy week. I’ll check it out!

  12. Excellent blog post particularly the introduction paragraph! I am actually writing a comparable blog post on this same topic. With your permission could I quote a section from this post? I tried to contact you directly through your contact form web page, but when I attempt to access it I receive this error “400 BAD REQUEST” I am uncertain if this an issue on my only side or if other individuals are having this same issue? I hope to hear from you whenever you are available.

    1. You can certainly quote a section just give me credit!! I’ll check out my contact page and make sure it’s working. I look forward to reading your post about it!

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