5 Reasons Why You Should Watch “13 Reasons Why” With Your Teen
Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why has gained an incredible amount of popularity and criticism ever since its debut in 2017. The show tackles difficult issues like sexual assault, suicide, gun violence and bullying. Because of the explicit content of the show, parents have remained wary about their children watching it. However, Gary Direnfeld, counselor for over 35 years, says parents should not only let their teens watch the show but they should watch it with them. Here’s why.
- YOU CAN DECODE WHAT’S HAPPENING: The first reason to watch it together would be to help your teen decode some of what is happening on screen. “Sometimes watching intense, graphic scenes can be traumatic for people and it can overwhelm them,” says Direnfeld. “Having a parent there to help interpret what is going on, to provide support and emotional safety, can help the child integrate the experience without it being traumatic.”
- YOU CAN ASK HOW IT AFFECTS THEM: Talking to your child about how the show makes them feel is another good reason to watch it together. “Asking about the kind of impact that it has on your child is important because they could be going through something similar and it would be unhealthy for them to go through it alone,” says Direnfeld. “The thing that 13 Reasons Why teaches us is that children are exposed to explicit and extreme material on the Internet and we want to help them cope with that stream of material before they are actually exposed to it.”
- YOU CAN ASK WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH: Watching the show together can be a catalyst to discovering what your teen is going through. Some teens suffer from anxiety or depression or have gone through traumatic experiences and may feel shame and embarrassment, but having a parent to talk to offers them a way to figure those experiences out. They can learn how to manage and respond.
- YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES AT SCHOOL: Watching the show together gives parents a chance to ask their teen about their experiences at school, while also being able to instill their own morals and values, says Direnfeld. “Regardless of how a drama is critiqued, the explicit content is still there, and it exposes our children to behaviour that can be frightening and overwhelming,” he says. “From my perspective, it is what it is, and parents need to think about how they can help their children to cope with whatever material they may access through the Internet or television.”
- YOU CAN OPEN UP DIALOGUE: “Watching the show together opens up a dialogue where parents can ask their teen about what they are being exposed to in real life,” says Direnfeld. If 13 Reasons Why is really a case of art imitating life, it can offer parents the opportunity to support their child and give necessary strategies to them to manage.
If you know a teen that needs help, here are some helpful resources:
By Mariam Ahmed