13 Reasons Why and the Acrobatics of Parenting

There are many, many yoga related topics I could write about. But today my mind was hijacked by the controversial Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why” and writing about what true core is seemed really unimportant today.

For those of you who don’t know, the show is about a teenager who decides to take her own life. It’s a controversial show because some say that it normalises suicide, and even makes it glamorous. Certainly, I acknowledge it could invite that. My daughter had told me she was watching it and loved it, and I didn’t think twice about it, I was happy enough that she shared and continued with whatever I was doing.

But when her school sent an alarming email warning about potentially dangerous content for young minds, I decided to watch it. All thirteen episodes!! Some scenes were difficult, and one of them just plain horrifying. It made Orange is The New Black feel like a romcom! And yes, while I understand the school’s concerns, it’s a bit too late now – the show has been seen by thousands, if not millions.

 

The premise is set in a teenage world and it did the job of drawing me in to their world and their way of thinking. We need to remember that teenagers and adults are different. The frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until twenty years of age, and we, as adults, must keep this in mind when faced with teenage issues.

We may disregard an Instagram post as silly but for our child it could be the end of their world, of their reputation. We need to learn to listen to them, and by that I don’t mean waiting for our turn to speak and lecturing them about how silly their concerns are. I mean walking in their world, in their shoes, with an open mind, without judgement, but with guidance.

That’s where the real acrobatics come in for us as parents and we have to practice it a lot before we can become comfortable with it. And the lines of communication need to stay open.

 

My daughter and I talked a lot about the characters, what they were going through, their parents, their friends and so on. We talked about them not as fictional characters, but as real people who are living through their personal and collective dramas.

Because let’s face it, even though it is fiction, everything depicted in the show happens in life: your reputation being ruined on social media by a picture taken out of context, being bullied, a desperate need to belong to a group, fear of rejection (for both boys and girls), rape, sexual assault, the inability to express complicated mental and emotional states which lead to feelings of isolation, fear of being judged, the models our society dictates on how we should look/feel/be/do and so forth.

 

I watched a few episodes with my daughter, stopping at various points and discussing the issues as they were arising. There are a few more topics the show covered that we have not talked about yet: the need for boys to be educated about what true consent is (does the absence of a No automatically mean it’s Yes?), how everything we do affects others, recognising a predator for what he/she really is, how girls really need to know how to say no and leave as soon as a situation becomes uncomfortable and dangerous, how careful we need to be with social media, the upmost importance of seeking help, recognising the signs of depression, the impact our behaviour has on others…

 

The number of topics and issues relevant to teenagers covered through the series is something. For me as a parent, it was a quite reminder that we need to stay very, very present with all of our senses switched on.

I am a little angry with myself that it ended up being her school that needed to bring all this back to my attention and not recognising the opportunity as soon as my daughter mentioned it.

 

On the last episode, I was shattered. I turned to my daughter and told her, “now you understand my concerns as a parent; every single issue of this show is something that I think about a lot”.

I think she understood. At least for now. As for me, I need to keep practicing my listening/guiding acrobatics.

 

Ps: promised next month you’ll know about what core strength is, and isn’t.

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