13 Reasons Why – – Take Aways As A Parent

I’m a member of the 2017 Netflix #StreamTeam.  I am here to share new information and give my opinion on what I catch as well. Thanks for reading! This post may also contain affiliate links

13 reasons why - take aways as a parent

Normally, when new shows come out on Netflix, I take a bit to catch on and watch.  But, with 13 Reasons Why (based on the book by Jay Asher), I finished it within 2 weeks of when it came out.  My co-worker had just finished it and I told her how I was going to load up a new show on my iPad to take on a work trip. She watched it with her teenage daughter and warned me it was great – but very heavy.

So, here’s the thing.  I’m the first to admit I put my entire life in a bubble and really steer clear of a lot of reality because that’s my choice.  I don’t really watch the news, but I do catch stories that come through my feed on Facebook.  I shelter my kids because it’s easy right now.  But next year, and the years that follow, my kids will be entering elementary school, then junior high, and high school.  Right now they (and their friends) are sweet and innocent and it’ll only be a matter of time before real life penetrates their life and I sometimes wonder where it will guide them.

The story behind 13 Reasons Why is a series of 13 tapes that go through 13 people that affected Hannah Baker’s life and how she came to take her own life.  The one thing that caught my attention the most was how a seemingly innocent, forgetful moment impacted her so much.  How something that could be an isolated incident – easy to forget – can quickly spiral into something so severe its pure weight can crush you.  As the story progresses, you can just see the entire weight of the world spiral out of control for Hannah.

From what I see on Facebook, most often the vehicle for news is social media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.  It is easy for a parent to monitor their kid by following the profiles of their children and their friends.  But, what I noticed on this show – it wasn’t social media that was the vehicle for texts and photos shaming kids.  It was massive text messages.  Because the texts live solely on the phone – and not online for all to see – the words and images seem to pierce through the school like an uncontrolled wild fire.

I asked one of my best friends-  a Juvenile Officer working in another state – what can we do as parents?  She is heavily involved with the kids in elementary school and said so many things start that young.  (yikes).  The parents on 13 Reasons Why seem oblivious to how their kids act or are treated – but I know that’s easy to get on that same path.  There’s chatter about what’s our role as parents, what’s a balance of privacy with kids, technology, etc.  Here’s what she said (her words are bold and my commentary will be below).

Be Aware and Listen

As parents – it’s easy to brush off what a kid is telling us, or simply ignoring it (I’m guilty of this especially when I’m working and they’re trying to get my attention).  It can seem like a story they’re telling us is far-fetched and a figment of their imagination.  But, we have to remember we’re adults and they’re kids – the way they explain something might not be 100% correct with terminology – but if we work to read into their story – to listen – and ask age-appropriate questions – we might be able to decipher if they’re sharing a story or trying to tell us something more serious.

Call Body Parts By Their Names

This is a hard one for us.  I don’t use words like cookie, cupcake, snake, joystick.  Right now we call them privates but I know eventually we gotta be more specific from there.  Never tell a kid their privates are bad, dirty, etc.  Don’t provide shame.  What’s the primary reason for this?  If a child is experiencing something, and goes to another adult to tell – how will they know the word that you and your family have awarded something? They won’t.

No Technology in Bedrooms

Computers, cell phones, web cams, it can become so easy for older kids or adults to have kids become more comfortable behind closed doors through social media or private messages/text messages.  This also lead to a big important stressor she continued on with.

No Expectation of Privacy

Kids shouldn’t expect to have privacy when it comes to their parents.  It’s our job as parents to assist them in learning the responsible way to use technology.  All social media should be monitored, all messages, etc.  I wonder how the kids that feel so isolated and bullied through social media would feel such relief if their parents really knew from the moment it started.  How could this impact our schools and interactions with other kids?

No Phones Before Driving

With all of the chaos and scary things our kids can encounter at school, away from our watch – I know the need for comfort with providing a cell phone to reach out to us can help our fears.  She provided a really great option for a method for kids to have contact with us, as well as us to watch over them.  The GizmoPal is wearable tech that has some great features (read up on the options here with this article written by a dad for Verizon).

I know this might not be as cool in elementary school for them with friends that might have phones.  But I don’t want them to have that need to feel cool. I want them to feel safe. I want it to be ok for other kids to feel safe without the ease of firing off photos and messages to hundreds of kids in a flash.  I know we can’t snap our fingers and immediately go back to the times we had growing up – or our parents had growing up.  But through education, awareness, and teachings, we can help our kids not only protect themselves, but also hopefully stop a ripple effect that Hannah experienced.

And, if you’re a parent to older kids – I’m not sure this is exactly a show for them.  This deals with some heavy stuff (yes, I know kids can be mature enough) but there’s also a lot of really intense scenes shown including rape and suicide.  If you’re inclined to have them watch it – I highly suggest you watch the entire show first, and then watch it with them.

Thank you for reading and pinning

13 reasons why - take aways as a parent

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