I’m watching ’13 Reasons Why’ and I’m terrified. I’m devastated. I’m afraid. I am an emotional wreck.
I’m terrified of raising children who end up as Hannah. I’m terrified of raising children who end up as Justin or Jessica.
If you haven’t watched this series, those names mean nothing. But one is a girl who took her own life following a prolonged period of ostracising, humiliating bullying. The other two are players on the offensive team.
I look at my beautiful little girl and her honesty, her openness, her eagerness to share every detail of her day with me. I think about times I shut her down or half-listen….and then I think of teens and their habitual self imposed isolation from their parents and I wonder: how can I avoid that?
Am I setting up that sullennes now, that silence, refusal to share, every time I don’t listen or show my impatience when she babbles at me about the wonderful imaginings of her world?
How can I guide my child towards being a good and caring and kind human, one that realises actions have consequence, that words can and do hurt. One that will share her pain with me and allow me to comfort her; I know she will be hurt and I can’t stop that completely but I’d like to be an option for comfort she is always willing to take.
How can I give her the confidence to know that the words and actions of unkind or thoughtless people do not define her and that no one can make her feel any way she does not allow herself to feel? To believe in her own worth to the point that she can easily allow meanness and jealousy to roll off her back without leaving a trace?
I’m filled with self doubt and the price of failure is high, so high 😦
High school for me was both good and bad, I was at different times both the ostracized and the ostraciser; but today’s world is completely different and in 10 years time when my little lady heads to high school I shudder to think how much worse it could have gotten.
The reach of bullies is so much greater now; they can infiltrate every safe space, every private place, via social media and the internet, phones and tablets. And, for all the gains women have made in equality and “girl power”, it seems girls today are even more driven by peer pressure than ever before.
Why are so many of our girls so fixated on getting approval from strangers? Why do they equate their worth as a person with their number of ‘likes’, how many ‘followers’ they have, or how many comments their photos attract?
How can I ensure that my girl, and my boy, learn to be their own judge and jury…to examine themselves and decide on their own worth rather than rely on others to tell them. How do I teach them that what really makes a person good or bad is their heart, their mind, their morals? That “perfect” is subjective and that beauty fades but the love (or hate) we show in our behaviour lasts forever?
My own mother did a great job raising me to not credit too much worry to my physical appearance. I was quite different to many of my friends in worrying about make up and fashion and so on. I wasn’t oblivious, far from it, but it didn’t have the weight for me that it did for my friends.
But I still remember the pain of high school, peer pressure, wanting to be popular, feeling hurt and lonely.
And I think about how much more vicious teens seem to be these days and I am terrified. How do I teach the most precious little people in my world to fight an enemy I’ve never faced myself???
So I guess, in a way, I should be grateful for 13 Reasons Why. It is (I think?) a brief look into the reality of high school these days, the good, the bad and the downright awful. It’s like a glimpse into an enemy camp I suppose, and I will try to formulate my plan for guiding my babies using every bit of intel available to me, ever.
Or else – I will home school. Yep. Maybe I will just do that.
Bloody hell. Teens are vicious. Hats off to the teens in my life – you’re walking a war zone every day; all I can say is, be the sun – shine bright; and remember, the clouds always fuck off eventually.