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13 Observations From 13 Reasons Why

Have you watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix yet? If you haven’t and you’re raising kids, I really think you need to! 

It’s HUGELY disturbing but gave me a lot to think about.

If you’re not sure what it’s about, here is the official trailer:

I started seeing all the hype about this show on social media a few week’s ago and with so many differing opinions being shared and obviously everyone will have a different truth and a different point of reference when watching this show.

You can read what Maz and Cindy had to say about the show too. 

When I first started watching it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. It seemed a little….. teenagey for my tastes but now that I’m finished watching it, I think it’s a show every parent needs to watch and perhaps even every teenager too.

It gave me a lot to think about.

Be prepared, if you haven’t watched it yet, it is truly disturbing, tackling intense issues faced by teens today. The effects on modern technology on teenagers, bullying, underage drinking and drug use, rape and teen suicide. It is NOT an easy watch. In fact, I struggled with insomnia each night after I watched it. My mind was racing. My anxiety on high, raising my girls as teenagers became a VERY real fear. Even my husband watched it and after a marathon session on Saturday night, where we stayed up until 1am to finish the series, we spent most of the rest of the long weekend, talking about it.

Worrying about how we would protect our children. How we would get them through the awful, angsty teenage years, through self discovery and experimentation. 

There are a million differing opinions on the show!

And I think it’s important to note, that while 13 Reasons Why is based on a novel, the issues it tackles are VERY real in today’s modern society, you only have to watch the documentary Audrie And Daisy to see how literature imitated life!

And it is TERRIFYING! As a parent, I feel completely unprepared for what comes next…..

But after a lot of thought and reflection on the show, here are some observations we (both my husband and I) made, me with the knowledge of what it’s like to be a teenage girl and him with the knowledge and experience of what it’s like to be a teenage boy:

13 Observations from 13 Reasons Why:

1. Being a teenager is hard!

I remember what I was like as a teenager. It was hard. I was a very angsty teen. Highly emotional and with raging hormones that I didn’t understand. I would often feel down in the dumps, glum, or whatever you prefer to call it. But making statements to teenagers like: “what do you have to feel sad about?” doesn’t help, it just isolates them even further. 

Teenagers thrive on drama, most of it of their own making. And it’s such high stakes when you’re a teen, it’s only now as an adult that I can look back and see how ridiculous it all was, even though at the time if felt like my life was ending. 

2. Both boy and girl parents share a responsibility

I was surprised, from the number of conversations I observed that so many parents of boys felt they had less responsibility or that somehow raising a teenage boy was less terrifying than raising a teenage girl. But I strongly disagree and I feel that this societal norm needs to stop. Parents, irrespective of whether they’re raising boys or girls, have a responsibility to teach their children, respect for themselves and respect for others. I think we’ve come far enough in our society and our awareness to stop excusing boys behavior as “boys being boys”. That sentiment does not help anyone. And it certainly is not doing our girl children any favours when we excuse that behavior has him “just being a boy”! 

I also think that the initial reaction is because the consequences for girls, at first glance, seems so much greater, horrid reputations, teenage pregnancy and the far reaching effect of that. But what if you son was accused of rape? What if you son date raped someone? What are those consequences for him? 

We need to start sharing this responsibility, in an attempt to protect both our daughters and our sons.

3. The common theme was absent parents

Emotionally and physically absent parents. Listen, I’m not the parent of a teen yet, but I couldn’t help noticing that Bryce’s parents were absent, Jessica’s parents were absent a lot, Justin’s mother was emotionally absent from his life while being physically present. She never chose him, she never put his needs first. 

Hannah’s parents, while physically present where portrayed as being, at times, emotionally absent. I’m certainly not judging them. I think they did what they could with what they had at the time, but life is hard and it’s often easy to become distracted by the issues and the complexities of managing a work/life balance. 

This point gave me a lot to think about. How do we remain both emotionally and physically present and connected with our kids so that we can see the warning signs as they unfold? I honestly don’t know the answer to this. And I’m not just talking about the warning signs of suicide from Hannah, but all kids portrayed were giving off warning signs that things were wrong and none of the adults seem to pick up on this. 

4. There are different sets of rules for boys and girls

As a girl and now a woman, this has always been a bitter pill to swallow. These different sets of rules that apply for boys and girls. That boys and girls can do the same thing, with completely the opposite effects. Girl experiments sexually, she’s labelled a slut, boy experiments sexually, he’s cool! Girl participates in under aged drinking, she’s a bad girl, boy participates in under aged drinking and he’s “just being a boy”! These double standards drive me WILD! 

5. Girls are raging hormones with the hearts on their sleeves, boys are raging hormones with their brains in their pants

It’s all about wanting to fit in and be accepted. But the way boys and girls go about it is just different. Girls get into situations because they’re looking for love, often in all the wrong places and with all the wrong people. Boys get into situations because they’re looking to score. Boys and girls make bad choices because ultimately they’re all searching for identity through acceptance by their peers. 

6. It’s all about acceptance and fitting in.

Just look at Justin, he let Bryce send that first picture of Hannah because he wanted to be cool, he wanted to fit in. And this theme played out over and over again. They all turn on each other ultimately because they’re so desperate to fit in, even if it means doing the wrong thing. And doing the right thing can be so incredibly hard. And it can be isolating. And scary. And lonely. Especially when you lack emotional maturity, which lets face it, most teenagers are lacking in. They’re simply NOT adults. 

7. Societies obsession with male “stars”

Again, a different set of rules apply. You just need to look at all the male stars who have been convicted of a crime and often times, the sentences handed down are light and the long term effects on their careers, non existent. Just look at OJ Simpson and Michael Vick. Those are only two examples that came to mind, there are hundreds of them! 

This sense of arrogant entitlement that we so often see. 

8. Underage drinking leads to poor decision making

Nuff said! I don’t even think I need to elaborate. Under age drinking puts teenagers in situations they are not emotionally mature enough to deal with, it puts them in situations where they are not mature enough to make good choices. 

How we discourage this, I have NO idea! 

9. When raising a son, always raise a Clay, never a Bryce.

Teach your son what consent is. If a girl is unconscious or under the influence of drugs and alcohol to the point where she can’t speak, then she also can’t give consent. When a girl flirts with you, it’s not because “she’s asking for it”.

Teach your son to ask – “Is this OK?” he can save himself a lot of trouble in the long run. 

10. Girls are bitchy & boys are pigs

This comes from my husbands mouth just FYI, from his own experience as a teenager. When we compared experiences, it was quite shocking for me, as a girl, to hear some of the things he had to say. 

Girls will turn on each other, they will be spiteful and cruel. 

11. Self confidence is everything

Teaching our children the difference between right and wrong. Teaching our children to be convicted, to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Teaching our children to be confident enough in themselves to walk away from a bad situation irrespective of the possible consequences, so do the right thing, no matter how scary. To have a moral compass.

Teaching our children that no matter what stupid thing they do, we will always love and support them. We will always be there for them. 

12. Communication is key

I feel like as parents, we need to be mind readers, learning to read both our children’s verbal and non verbal ques. And to keep open lines of communication at all times, even when we’re furious, or dealing with other issues and problems, we have to choose our children first each and every time. 

13. Words have the power to destroy

Always be kind. In your words and your actions because you have no idea what others are dealing with, you have no idea if it’s your words or your actions that could push someone to the edge. Because words have the power to cut and break a heart. Because words have the power to alter how we will forever see ourselves.

I could go on and on with this list, but I’ll stop there.

Have you watched 13 Reasons Why?

What were some of your observations? 

I think the most encouraging thing I’ve taken from the show is that it’s started a dialogue that we can all engage with and learn from. 

Image Credit: http://acgs.tk/Ejk7O/

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply marina1605

    I’m half way through the series. Like you, after the first couple of episodes I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue because it feels like I’m too old for it, but I want to learn from it too so I’m carrying on. I have 2 boys and I agree particularly with your observation that boy parents share the same responsibility as girl parents.

    May 1, 2017 at 7:21 am
  • Reply The Don Father

    All you have said here is very true. We have watched it and it’s a definite recommendation for other parents. It’s an eye opener. Thanks for sharing!

    May 1, 2017 at 7:41 am
  • Reply ilonique

    Thank you so much for this blog post Sharon. I have not watched it yet but I am definitely planning to. My youngest son is struggling and it’s been particularly difficult for me and I have felt personally responsible.

    Reading your post has given me some insight into possibly why he is struggling.

    I have also foolish believed that he is protected as he is so absorbed with online gaming. He does not go out. He has chatted openly to me about how he cannot understand the need boys have for drinking and smoking. However somewhere in all this he has lost balance. I think he is terribly lonely and it breaks my heart. I am trying to be there mentally and physically but I am so worried that I cannot protect him.

    Thank you so much again.

    May 1, 2017 at 7:54 am
  • Nicole Wooldridge
    Reply Nicole Wooldridge

    Tanya Du Bois Gail du Bois

    May 1, 2017 at 7:58 am
  • Lindi Giger Rudnicki
    Reply Lindi Giger Rudnicki

    Hannah Rudnicki

    May 1, 2017 at 8:51 am
  • Reply Simone

    I think when you have both…sons and a daughter, it’s scary thinking about raising both sexes. I would never let either side off the hook. I always think….I’m raising somebody’s husband and father….I need to do a damn good job.

    Great post..It was a hard show to watch and my kids are also little so I didn’t think it was for me but I’m glad I watched it.

    I didn’t realise the common theme of absent parents until just now. We have to stay involved….but not to the point of smothering them…so hard to find a balance I think.

    May 1, 2017 at 9:07 am
  • Reply Ragmat Baron

    I am a single parent raising a daughter who is currently 6 years old. And I am so scared after watching the series… I burst into tears when hannah’s parents found her in the bathtub it.
    I just realized that teenagers never tell their parents anything and I hope to be a better parent to my kid that she wont ever have to feel this way.
    I was very rebelious when i was a teenager and did things behind my parents because they just never were interested or thats how i felt at the time.
    This series is really an eye opener to all parents
    Thank you for your insight it really makes a person think…

    May 1, 2017 at 9:13 am
  • Tracy Gibson
    Reply Tracy Gibson

    It is incredibly eye opening. They don’t sugar coat anything! Disturbing but good.

    May 1, 2017 at 9:18 am
  • Reply melissa javan

    Really scary to read this from a parent’s point of view, but it’s an eye opener I gues. My child is one and I don’t even want to think about the possible dangers and her having to make her own choices. ***Sigh

    May 1, 2017 at 1:02 pm
  • Reply ChevsLife

    Thank you for sharing your take on 13 reason’s. I watched it a few weeks back, I was drawn to Clay’s character, and agree that if you are raising a boy (or girl), strive to raise a Clay.

    May 1, 2017 at 5:30 pm
  • Raylene De Villiers
    Reply Raylene De Villiers

    I haven’t seen it. Is it on S.A. Netflix? I’m very scared…

    May 2, 2017 at 6:08 am
  • Tanya Holmes
    Reply Tanya Holmes

    Have always been open with my girls about all topics. But we loved the series. And was a good way to broach topics with them. Like how would you handle if you got to a party and this happened

    May 2, 2017 at 7:47 am
  • Reply flutterbymegs

    I Just finished watching “13 Reasons Why” and I encourage every parent out there, with a teenager or even small child to do the same. There’s a lot of hard hitting scenes and language in this but you’ll just have to get over it and know that your kids hear this stuff every single day. It’s what you as a parent and adult choose to grow up and “get over” and what you choose to talk to your own kids about. I hope we take the high road and not expect miracles out of our child from a society that they can’t reasonably live up to. But I do hope we hug them tight, talk to them often and above all else, give them a safe space to come to so that they can always be honest with you without repercussions. Because these kids, DO NOT always need just judgement and discipline. They need a balance of a friend AND parent.

    May 2, 2017 at 1:55 pm
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