Misc Whitney's Blog

My Teen Won’t Watch 13 Reasons Why

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I’m a little late on the bandwagon with this one but I’ve only just watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I saw everyone buzzing about it a few weeks ago and finally got around to watching.

I just finished and I’m so sad about it so this blog post is going to have to be my therapy.

If you aren’t familiar, 13 Reasons Why is a 13-episode show on Netflix that follows the life (and suicide) of a high school student named Hannah Baker. Right before she kills herself, she records herself talking into an old-school cassette player. She tells her peers how they did her wrong and how what they did to her lead to her suicide.

I found it incredibly hard to watch for many reasons. My 13 year old had expressed only mild interest in seeing it after some kids at school were chatting about it. The superintendent of our school also sent an email around about it since it’s become such a thing.

And we’re normally pretty relaxed with what we allow our kids to watch but I thought I would heed the warnings and watch it first. I’m glad I did.

For those of you who haven’t watched yet or are considering watching with your children, here’s what you need to know based on my own unprofessional opinions:

  • There are two date rape scenes – both of which are pretty graphic. As a 42-year-old woman I had a hard time watching it and there’s no part of me that wants my child to see it.
  • There’s other sexual scenes including an alluded-to blow job and then masterbation in another scene. There’s talk of bases and fingering and many things you may not be ready to have your teenager hear. Especially tweens and younger teens.
  • There’s a bit of a “revenge” or glory aspect to Hannah’s suicide. She definitely causes suffering towards those who did her wrong by leaving these tapes. For teens who feel hurt or bullied, I don’t like that this gives an idea or option to get back at those who hurt you (through suicide!)
  • You know it’s about a suicide. What you may not know is they show her doing it. With razors, in the bathtub. It’s graphic and heartbreaking. And gory. And it feels so very real.
  • There isn’t just one reason that Hannah takes her own life. It’s a myriad of complexity that involves lots of wrongs, bullies and teenagers being teenagers. She feels alone and in the end feels that ending her own life is the only option. It’s sad and it hits deep for anyone – teenagers, parents, everyone. It’s raw and it’s uncomfortably thought-provoking. It’s not a light topic or show. And for me, when my 7th grader already has so much on his mind, it’s just not something I feel he is ready for.

Bottom line is that you know your child better than anyone out there who is blogging and giving advice on this show. Maybe they’re ready for it. I don’t care how old they are though – it’s heavy and warrants a discussion before, during and/or after they have finished watching. It’s a topic even adults need to spend some time thinking about and possibly discuss.

2 thoughts on “My Teen Won’t Watch 13 Reasons Why”

  1. As a Highschool teacher I will tell you that I too found it heartbreakingly graphic and very real! Unfortunately I will tell you firsthand that these horrible events happen all the time and whether you decide it’s for your child or not parents need to be aware, both to what your kids are experiencing and dishing out. Even the best kids can say and do hurtful things with little to no harmful intent. How things are perceived can be so damaging. Frank discussions, honesty and trust have to be established so kids know they have options when dealing with life’s difficulties!

    1. I’m glad this show is the catalyst that opened up dialogue b/t many parents and teens. Agree, it’s difficult but kids need to know they can come to their parents when dealing with all of this! It makes me so sad that there are so many issues like this with today’s kids.
      And to your point about even the best of kids saying or doing something hurtful is one of the more important pieces I took out of watching it. Much of the time it’s unintentional but kids need to hear and know about both sides – being sensitive to others feelings as well as knowing they have resources and places they can turn to when they feel hurt and like they are alone.

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