"13 Reasons Why" on Netflix has quickly become a popular topic between teenagers, parents, and adults alike. If you have not yet watched it, it's important to take some free time and watch it, particularly if the children you are caring for have watched it or are of an age where their friends are talking about it. In case you're questioning why you should watch it, here are some reasons:
1. First and foremost, establishing open communication is one of the most important tools you can have as a parent/caregiver. "13 Reasons Why" touches upon incredibly sensitive topics that may be difficult for a parent/caregiver to bring up otherwise. Using this series as a catalyst to conversation will help increase open communication which could lead to a stronger relationship.
2. This show gives you exposure to what children may be talking about with their friends. Children do not always tell their parents/caregivers what they speak to their friends about, which is age appropriate. This series, however, has been very popular and is geared toward teens. If you are familiar with this series, you'll have insight into something you may overhear but not entirely understand.
3. Watching it before your children do will give you the opportunity to process the heavy topics they touch upon, on your own, and prepare yourself for what your children are about to watch. This also affords you the chance to prepare them by speaking to them before watching it, and if they've watched it already, you can take the opportunity to process what they've seen.
4. It is important to speak to your children about the unrealistic aspects of this show. Although many of the emotions the characters feel and express are real, there are many aspects that aren't. Whether it is the lack of supervision within the school halls, the total inability of any of the adults in the show to protect their children, or the appearance that if you advocate for yourself, you'll only be slandered; there are plenty of opportunities to speak about where the show went wrong.
5. After you and your children watch the show, encourage them to give you their opinion on it. Let them lead the conversation and actually listen to them versus discouraging or contradicting their views.
6. To be perfectly honest, if your children have not yet watched this show, they don't have to to....it could be traumatic for them. Not only do the characters in Season 2 discuss very traumatic events for any student, but there are some graphic moments that are actually difficult to watch. Watching the show, yourself, allows you the opportunity to truly decide if it is appropriate for your children to watch. Knowledge is power!
7. Season 2 truly gives viewers the opportunity to talk about accountability for choices and holding others accountable. Accountability is something that many parents/caregivers do not often discuss with their children however it is a vital life lesson.
8. Unlike last season, one of the lead characters, Clay, experienced a massive amount of guilt in season 2. His guilt manifested in many ways throughout the season. These different types of guilt are a perfect opportunity for you to discuss the concept of guilt and how to get past it with your children.
9. This show, like many others that target teenagers, often show the perception that high school is the be-all, end-all of life. As a parent/caregiver, it is your job to show your children that although it may feel like that in the moment, that's actually a faulty way of looking at life.
10. Throughout the second season, there are moments when the characters feel hopeful. Reviewing the season with your children, have them pick out the moments when a character felt hopeful...or when they should have felt hopeful. This is a wonderful teaching exercise for you, as a parent/caregiver, and also a great one to pass on to your children.
11. As we said earlier, there were a lot of unrealistic events in Season 2. Another great exercise is for you and your children to identify and discuss moments when the characters should or could have gone to an adult for help. Talk about why they would have asked for help in that particular scenario or what they wish an adult would have done to intervene.
12. Another unrealistic aspect of this season is the concept that if you speak up as a victim, you will be targeted, bullied, and slandered, probably more than you were at the moment. As a parent/caregiver, one of your most important jobs is to protect your children, in various ways. Helping your children find their voice and overcome stigma are important tools for a person. Also, realizing that what is on television isn't necessarily true to life will help them have reasonable expectations.
13. The second season ends with some incredibly traumatic events. To give yourself and your children some closure, talk to your kids about how the children and families in this should could move on. Help them visualize what life looks like without Hannah, after all of the trauma they've been through, and how they can move past it in a healthy way.