Parenting is not for the weak! There is no off-time, down-time, or part-time. Your children are an incredible blessing from God for which a huge responsibility is given and a great commitment required. What makes parenting more difficult is that parents are often left to navigate the trials of parenting by entering into unfamiliar, yet ever-changing territory.
One of those areas that seems to move faster than it’s possible to grasp is the area of media and technology. The access that we have to content – good and bad – would have been unimaginable just 20 years ago. The landscape of television viewing is rapidly evolving with services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, etc. That concept – access – brings me to my point. A recent release of a Netflix exclusive series has been causing quite a stir lately. The series is called 13 Reasons Why and is based on the young adult novel by Jay Asher. The story addresses the topic of suicide, substance abuse, sexual assault and harassment. There’s voyeurism, drinking, and tons of swearing. Both a suicide scene and a rape scene within the series leave little to the imagination. If you want a quick synopsis you can check it out one of the following: 13 Reasons Synopsis; Common Sense Media review; or Pluggedin review. Although I haven’t watched the series, the general consensus from what I’ve read is that the series pushes the graphic nature of what is presented way beyond what the book portrays.
Why this topic? Because despite what filters you have at home, there is a high likelihood that other children (at church, at sports, even at school) have heard about it or are talking about it. In fact, I had a student search for it the other day because they had heard a friend on their sports team talk about it and was curious to see what 13 Reasons Why was about. That’s the nature of Middle School kids, and perhaps all kids – curiosity will often lead them to areas that are uncharacteristic for them to find themselves. It’s important for us as parents and educators to be aware of the current pitfalls which our children/students are facing. Given the popularity of Netflix (as well as other services), and the ease at which popular ideas, videos, and content spreads, sharing information within the community allows all of us to be better equipped to help guide our children / students.
There is an underlying brokenness in our world that will be the cause of these issues resurfacing from generation to generation – as Solomon said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Although it may manifest itself in different ways or through different means, the root cause of the brokenness is still sin. The sinful nature in us will either feed off of what we put in (as in when we feed it what the world has to offer), or will be starved when we choose to resist those things which are contrary to it. The topics of suicide and bullying are incredibly important to discuss with our children, but 13 Reasons Why is not a method I would suggest to lead into that discussion.
For even more on the movie, you can also check out the following sites:
Helena Schools, Helena Montana
JED Foundation, Viewing and Discussion Tips
National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Australia