There's nothing like a drama series to get people talking, right? 13 Reasons Why (based on Jay Asher's 2007 novel), is a recently released Netflix original series that does not disappoint when it comes to opening the mouths of young and old alike.
What's critical about this program is it brings to light some very touchy, uncomfortable coming-of-age situations, boldly giving parents an opportunity to discuss important topics like friendship, sexuality, bullying, rape, and suicide with their in-the-midst-of-growing-up adolescent. This is, of course, assuming mom and dad (a) know their son or daughter is watching the show; and (b) they take it upon themselves to actually step into those potentially awkward and somewhat stressful conversations in order to connect.
We all want our kids to come to us with their problems, we want them to be able to open up about the struggles they will inevitably encounter during their adolescent years (though, hopefully not to the the magnitude of this cast). We would be sick if we thought they couldn't come to us, right?
But, a lot of kids don't open up to their parents.
Why is that?
Because so often parents just aren't approachable.
By the time they are in high school we've spent years creating the perception of the "all-knowing," never wrong, got-it-all-together human being for them. Many kids don't feel they can be open and honest with their parents about their challenges (big or small) because even though we think we've put up a convincing front for them, kids are more insightful than we give them credit for and many understand their parents are dealing with their own stressful challenges and adding theirs wouldn't be helpful.
Many teens don't want to burden their parent(s) with more trouble (stress). They feel mom or dad just doesn't have it in them to look beyond the pain and confusion they are experiencing to be able to support them in what they're going though.
Or, they think their parents will never understand what they're going through because they haven't taken the time to build a relatable connection.
There are young people today who have emotional stress in their lives because there are a lot of adults in their lives who have unresolved emotional problems. Adults project (often unconsciously, and certainly without malicious intent) their insecurities and emotional struggles onto those who love them most.
How can you be sure that if your child is going through even half of what Hannah was trying to process in 13 Reasons Why they would be able to find a way to ask you for help?
The truth is, we can never be 100% sure.
BUT what parents can do is find the courage within themselves to make their own emotional health a priority. That way if your child is struggling you will be able to see/feel/or sense it happening, and have the presence of mind to intervene. And you will have created healthy boundaries to know to when it's time to get professional help in an escalating crisis.
If more families were getting the help they needed ahead of the game, we would have less tragedy among young people today.
Good Morning America's recent news story on this show is worth watching...