The first season of 13 Reasons Why was extremely popular with middle school and high school students in 2017. The themes in the show resonate with issues that its viewers are aware of or have experienced themselves. The second season, which was released in May 2018, is just as popular among teens this year; some binge watching during summer break. There are those teens who watch out of curiosity and those who watch because they are able to identify with at least one of the characters.

Parents who have watched the Netflix Original or whose teens have watched it, may be unsure of how they feel about the show. It is a graphic show, yet it is very captivating to the viewer. Parents ask themselves, “Should I let my daughter watch it?”, “Should I watch with her?”, “Is it too graphic for my son to watch?” and “Will it give my child bad ideas?” The following are four things parents should know about 13 Reasons Why:

  1. IT IS FOR MATURE VIEWERS ONLY

The show is rated TV-MA, which means that the show is for mature viewers only and it is not advisable that someone under 17 years of age view it. When children are young, they may not fully understand the difference between television and real life. They may want to do what they watch on TV. Many times, young children watch inappropriate shows when their big brothers or big sisters are watching them. The older siblings don’t always think about whether a show is appropriate for their little brother or sister or forget that their younger sibling is in the room; for this reason, it is important that parents are aware of what is watched in their home and have conversations with their older kids about what may or may not be appropriate for the little ones.

  1. IT DEPICTS REAL LIFE ISSUES

Inarguably, the show depicts different issues that today’s teens face. Some of the themes are suicide, popularity, bullying, sex, blame, etc. It is important that parents remember that their teens or teens’ friends may be facing these issues. As some parents watch the show, they may be overcome with fear that their child may have had similar experiences. Other parents may think, “Thank God my child has never experienced any of those things.” Parents must to remain open minded and acknowledge the fact that they don’t know everything about their children, just like they didn’t share everything with their parents when they were young; nonetheless, it does not mean that their child has had any or all of the horrible experiences in the show. It is a parent’s job to be vigilant as their children grow up. It is a tricky balance, but parents must be able to allow their children room to develop their own identity, while still keeping tabs on them and being aware of situations they struggle with.

  1. IT CAN BE A TRIGGER

When a person goes through a traumatizing experience, watching or hearing anything that reminds them of their traumatic experience can be a trigger. The same can be said of someone who is struggling with a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. A trigger can be anything that takes people back to a negative experience or sets them in a depressed or anxious mood. Many times, teens don’t know what their triggers are until they experience them and are struggling to control their emotions. Parents should be aware that 13 Reasons Why can be very triggering for anyone who has experienced the following, but not limited to: sexual trauma, struggles with suicidal ideation, depression, and low self-esteem. It is important that if a child becomes triggered, parents ensure their physical safety and seek professional support. A trained mental health professional who specializes in work with teens and children can help them develop healthy coping skills and process their traumatic experience.

  1. IT CAN BE A CONVERSATION STARTER

When a parent notices that their teen has been binge watching 13 Reasons Why, they can take the time to have a conversation with them about their thoughts on the show. If parents are not sure how to start a conversation or what to talk about, they can visit https://13reasonswhy.info/ where they can find a discussion guide and many other useful resources. There’s no need to be afraid to bring up the issue of suicide or any other issues that come up in the show. As long as parents do it in a gentle manner and with genuine concern, they can begin to understand their teen’s thoughts on the issues that surround them and can offer supportive guidance.

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression or any of the issues depicted in 13 Reasons Why, please don’t hesitate to seek support from a mental health therapist. If it is your child who is in need of support, feel free to contact me and I would be happy to discuss how I can help.

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jeanette@littlestepsgiantleaps.com
714-913-6040
Jeanette Razo-Gonzalez, LCSW verified by GoodTherapy.org

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