To say I am disturbed is an understatement.
To say I am lost for words would be another.
To say I am struggling with what I have seen, would be yet another massive understatement.
I have just finished the series on Netflix called “13 Reasons Why” and I have to be honest with you, I am shell shocked.
13 Reasons Why, if you haven’t heard about it, is a series about a fictional character Hannah Baker, who through a series of events, bullying and being raped two of these things, ends up taking her own life. The series is about what led her to this point, and the aftermath that ensued with her family and friends trying to make sense of it all.
It is raw, it is emotional and it is graphic. There is no doubt as to what went on and the episode where she takes her life is disturbing. And when her Mum finds her, well that is truly disturbing.
So why would I watch it you ask?
Well, because it is Netflix’s most-watched series of all time and since it came out has been tweeted over 11 million times. Because all the teenagers I know (including Gracie) are watching and talking about it on social media. And because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But I don’t think I was quite prepared for what I saw and is not something I will forget in a long time.
There are lots (and lots) of websites and blogs out there talking about 13 Reasons Why. Blogs that will satisfy your curiosity if you don’t want to watch the whole series. Blogs with helplines, numbers for support networks and reasons why they made the series. There are some great sites for support and I encourage you to go and read them, so I’m not going into all of that here, but I do want to say this:
If you have a teenager, please please, please be aware of what they are watching. Please pay attention to what is going on in their lives, and please have those awkward conversations! As parents, it is never easy, and teenagers are a breed unto themselves. But this stuff goes on in their world and we need to be aware of it. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that this kind of thing doesn’t happen because it does. We can’t bury our heads and think it will never happen to our teen because it could. And that is the cold hard reality here…..it could.
Life is so different these days. So many more challenges and pressures facing our teens. And we need to educate ourselves the best we can to help our teens navigate their way through this season of their life. We need to be hands-on, and involved in their lives, no matter how much they complain or think we are awkward!
Now I am not naive enough to think that Gracie shares absolutely everything with me, but she always knows she can come to me if she needs to. She knows she can use her parents as an excuse (Mum and Dad won’t let me….) and she has an amazing network of good, Christian friends speaking into her life. I know this won’t protect her from all life will throw at her, it won’t completely protect her from peer pressure, and as much as I want to wrap her in cotton wool and protect her from the mean ole world, I know I can’t do that either! But what I can do is be aware, be educated, and be involved.
And parents, please don’t forget to pray. Not just if things aren’t going well, but all the time! Cover them in prayer.
So friends, please be aware.
Aware of what your teens are watching.
Aware of who has influence in their life.
Aware of what is going in their world.
Aware of their social media and the anxiety that come with it.
And please, please be aware of the pressures teens face. Not just any teen, but your teen.