13 Things Parents Need To Learn From Netflixs 13 Reasons Why

13 Things Parents Need To Learn From Netflix’s “13 Reason’s Why”

So being a teen counsellor, I thought I should probably watch this TV show on Netflix everyone is talking about “13 Reason’s Why”. It’s about a teen girl who commits suicide and leaves tapes outing people who she believes contributed to the suicide. After watching this show, all I could say to myself was OMG! It is INTENSE, it pulls at your heart strings, explores difficult topics, and shows some pretty graphic images. No wonder it’s a hit. Personally, I am still having a hard time having my relaxing bubble baths without thinking of Hannah (main character) slitting her wrists and dying in a bathtub (thanks Netflix for ruining my chill time!).

But seriously, many teens are watching this show and as parents, there are some things you can learn from this series and the topics it covers.

1. Social media can be vicious

This series shows how social media can impact your teen’s life. Photos and texts can spread with the blink of an eye that can cause a lot of sh*@T for your teen. Most of the time your teen will have no control over the photos or information spread, which sucks! But at least, you can teach your teen about social media safety so that they are more informed and aware of the dark side of social media.

Check out this link for helpful tips:

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/social-media-smarts.html

2. Your teen will not tell you everything

Doesn’t matter how awesome of a parent you are, your teenager is not going to tell you everything that is happening in their life. You’re their parent, not their friend or counsellor. The best thing you can do is make sure that there are other adults in their life that they look up to and have good relationship with. Hopefully, if life gets difficult and they don’t want to talk to you, they will have other options.

Of course, I recommend them seeing an awesome counsellor like me, but if money is tight… check out Big Brother Big Sisters of Halifax or talk to a responsible friend about mentoring your teen. Also, make sure you and your teen both have a copy of local crisis lines.

3. School counsellors sometimes have conflicting roles

I have to say it really pissed me off how the counsellor was portrayed in this series. I know so many amazing Halifax school counsellors that would have appropriately handled Hannah’s situation. However, the one thing they got right is that (depending on the school your teen goes to) school counsellors have dual roles. Sometimes school counsellors will have to monitor the school yard, teach as class, or enforce school rules, while also having to be the counsellor. This means students may not want to talk to the school counsellor or feel uncomfortable sharing. If this is the case at your teen’s school, maybe it’s time to advocate for the school counsellor to ONLY be a counsellor or there is always the option for private counselling.

4. Bullying can have serious and long lasting effects

The “suck it up” and “it builds character” mentality towards bullying is just plain false. Research shows that bullying can cause anxiety, depression, and increase risk for suicide. GET YOUR TEEN SUPPORT if they are being bullied or are a bully themselves.

Learn more at: http://www.healthline.com/health-news/bullying-affects-victims-and-bullies-into-adulthood-022013

5. Parent’s can’t fix everything

When you see your teen struggling, all you want to do is take away their pain so they do not have to suffer. Unfortunately, you can’t fix everything (and shouldn’t!) BUT you can be there to offer them resources like counselling and provide a support.

6. Teen rape occurs more often than you think

We all know due to many social, legal, and cultural issues, rape goes underreported. Being a counsellor, I can attest that sexual assault happens wayyyyy more often than we think. The most important thing parents can all do is inform themselves (and their teens) about what consent means and for parents to know how to help teens who have been sexually assaulted.

7. Learn How to listen to your teen

Advice giving can be the quickest way to help your teenager BUT to really support your teenager listening rather than advice giving is best. To learn how to support your teen check out these tips:

https://insightmentalhealth.ca/3-listening-skills-help-support-teenager-with-depression/

8. Teen suicide does not discriminate

This sounds pretty obvious but there seems to be a mentality of “not in my backyard”. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity, how rich or poor, smart or stupid… death by suicide affects everyone.

9. Know the signs that your teen may need professional help

Seek professional help if you notice these changes in your teen:

  • extreme weight gain or loss
  • sleep problems
  • rapid, drastic changes in personality
  • sudden change in friends
  • skipping school often
  • falling grades
  • talk or even jokes about suicide
  • signs of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use
  • run-ins with the law

10. Teenagers drink and do drugs

Most teens will experiment in high school. Peer pressure, addiction, and curiosity are just some reasons why so many teens drink and/or do drugs.

Here is a great article that will help you talk to your teen about this issue: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/pubs/adp-apd/talk-aborder/index-eng.php

11. School environments can make or break your teen

Have you met the school principle or your teen’s teachers? Talked to them about their bullying policy and how they enforce it? How they create a culture of acceptance and inclusion?

If not, maybe it’s time you set up a meeting and get to learn about the school your teen goes to OR join the parent involvement committee and start advocating for inclusion and anti-bullying. A good school environment can be key to your teen’s success!

12. Being a teen in today’s world, is really tough!

I thought when I was a teen I had it bad! Thank god facebook wasn’t invented, texting a sentence took 10 minutes, and social media was basically non-existent. Teens have it wayyyyyy tougher than we did and we owe it to them to acknowledge this and get informed so that we can help them through the trail and tribulations of being a part of generation Z.

13. Watch the show!

WATCH THE SHOW!!! Most likely your teen already has and you should as well! To be able to address and discuss some of the topics that “13 Reason’s Why” sheds light on with your teen, you really need to WATCH THE SHOW!!! It actually isn’t too bad and very entertaining. Just be ready to say goodbye to you bubble baths for a while!

     Meet Julia Smith

Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a mental health counsellor in downtown Halifax. She helps kids, teens, and young adults who are struggling with anxiety, stress, and depression. Click here to learn more about her downtown Halifax counsellor practice!

Insight Mental Health Counselling