As my almost teenage daughter flopped on the couch settling in for her post-school catch-up of all things Snap and Insta, she stopped dead in her viewing, and with a loud “OMG!!” told me to check my email.
According to her (or what her pals were quickly sharing), the principal had just sent out an email telling parents to not let their kids watch ’13 Reasons Why.’ Not only that but apparently the kids were now banned from discussing it in school at all.
The email said nothing of the sort:
Many of you may have heard about the trending Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why” as it has been garnering attention in many school communities and media.
Please find attached to this email some information that has been shared with us on behalf of the Ministry of Education.
Even the attached message from the Vancouver School Board was quite sensible with links to various Suicide information sites and a handy downloadable guide for watching the show.
The irony of my daughter and her friend’s reaction to this email that was basically the voice of adult authority speaking to their parents and NOT including them, has not been lost on me. Especially since one of the key messages at the core of 13 Reasons Why was the vast and tragic disconnect and total lack of communication between the teens and their parents as well as the teachers and administration at the school.
All the kids in the show are hurting. Every. Single. One. And 13 Reasons Why does not make adults look very good in that they all seem pretty oblivious or just plain NOT THERE. NONE of the kids share with their parents. None.
If nothing else sinks in for all the parents out there, THIS is the one thing that should. I am not the only one discussing this key point. Arianna Jeret shares her views on this very well right here. Even I who think I am pretty hip and open with my kids know that they are not sharing everything with me. I know I barely get a peek into their world. But I try. And I try by making sure that both she and her teen brother know that it is safe to talk to me or dad about anything that is going on and then I just pray that they do and it hurts deeply when they don’t.
It hurts for many reasons. Part of it is the simple fact that as children, their world WAS us. It was scary enough sending them away to kindergarten. Watching our kids and the spheres that they exist in expand beyond our own orbit is terrifying. We feel so helpless. It hurts because as I said, I like to think my message of safety is loud and clear, but we have had instances that have proven that to not be working as well as I hoped. It hurts because every little set back chills me to my core about what else is out there that I can’t control and can’t protect my babies from.
I actually did not watch 13 Reasons Why WITH Caity. She was upstairs freaking and I was downstairs. She would run downstairs to rant or rave or question about each episode and we would analyze what had just happened and how ‘real’ it felt to her. We have continued to discuss the show, especially now that the rest of the world, including school administrators, have taken notice.
My middle baby starts grade 8 in September. I agree with many of the moms out there who have said that 13 Reasons Why makes them want to homeschool. I get it. I think any adult today who just had a so so or meh or even horrid time in High School has their trepidation for their own kids ramped up by the misery and horror that 13 Reasons leaves us with.
The show is a hard kick in the gut. 13 Reasons Why is doing way more than any Pink Shirt day could even dream of when it comes to getting kids to really really FEEL something and not only FEEL something but see (because adults created it) that adults might actually GET how they are feeling and what we adults sniff at can be a MASSIVE deal to our tweens and teens and we better respect that and not trivialize their ramped up emotions.
Parents. You BETTER be watching this show. You better actually be remotely aware of the world your tween and teens are existing in. You better understand how they use Snap and Kick and Insta and just how important that digital world is to them.
You can’t hide them from the world. You can only be there in shadows…..right behind them and ready so ready to catch them when they stumble and fall.
ps. Just to add (and this view IS based on my negative feeling towards my own school life) but I think this sort of plays into why the kids reacted so wrongly to the school email. I was at the parent meeting to prep for our small school ‘farewell’ celebration for the grade 7’s. It went great and they are a good bunch of parents who were all happy to volunteer to make it a special day for the kids. What irked me was the tone the principal took with us when it came to why they were wanting to cut back on food at the reception or what was needed for the dance….basically she kept telling us how well THEY knew our kids to the point that it truly felt like the school knew the kids better than their own parents. So. Is this based on the school admin and teachers own experiences with parents? Do we all come across as unrealistic and oblivious to what are kids are really like? Or is the administration out of touch and NOT hearing the kids properly?
Gee I hope not.
pps. I have boys and girls. I find that I can find more to talk and do with my daughter than my teen son. He and I share many interests and humour, but I do fear that that is not enough. I found this link in my searches for ‘help.’ Hopefully, it will be of service to some boys out there. http://www.brotalk.ca/http://www.brotalk.ca/ This article was also great: https://grownandflown.com/stopped-punishing-son-misbehaving-class/