I haven’t watched the Netflix series that’s generating conversation about teen suicide. But I’m deeply concerned that teens might be drawn into the raw program without processing these sensitive, graphic issues with a trusted adult.
This is another example of the way that books, television shows, and movies engage young people with shocking, grim, and reckless stories. I understand that teenagers are ready to delve into what fascinates and scares them about real life, without the phoniness of a handsome prince swooping in to guarantee the happy ending. Yet, I’m convinced that a biblical perspective is essential for our children to learn to spiritually, cognitively, and emotionally process the realities of this fallen world. This is an opportunity for Christian parents to disciple our kids within a biblical framework in which Jesus reigns and hope lives.
Yesterday, I ventured into the conversation for the first time with my 15-year-old daughter. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked her if she’s heard of “13 Reasons Why.” She attends a Christian school, and to be honest, my perception is that she lives a fairly sheltered life. Our appetite for compelling television is fed by “The Amazing Race” and “The Spring Baking Championship.”
“Oh, yeah – everyone’s talking about it.”
I suppose that confirmed my reluctant suspicions that these kids aren’t so sheltered after all.
About 20 minutes into our conversation, we received an email from a teacher about the series, another confirmation that yes, parents need to be aware and engaged in this discussion. It doesn’t mean that we have to watch the program, but we need to be present and willing to have two-way conversations about hard issues like bullying, rejection, abuse, sexuality, self-harm, anxiety, and depression. While our teens are growing, they need roots to anchor them. All of us do, in times like these. We need to be rooted in Christ’s love in order to see ourselves through His acceptance, to perceive our circumstances through His sovereignty, and to establish our hope in His victory.
For my daughter and her peers, plus my small group of 10th grade girls – allow these 13-reasons-why-you-can-have-hope and these truths from Scripture to sink deep in your heart. You are fiercely and unconditionally loved.