I am blessed. I have a teen daughter who is doing well. For us, life has not always been easy, we have had to tackle some hard things. Life has thrown a few curve balls. In all my years I never thought it would be my child who would suffer at the hands of other children, who would say out loud she wanted to die, who would need mental health assistance. We have had to have hard conversations along the way. So how do you have hard conversations with your teens?
My teen and I have developed great communication skills over the years with a few bumps along the way. So how do you have those hard conversations with your teen? For us, those conversations often begin while we are watching some of our favourite tv shows. These are the ones we watch together. For us, that time on the couch together seems to bring on the perfect time to talk. Over popcorn, candy and soda come conversations that are hard to have. Because my teen and I are both so busy those times when we do slow down and have a Netflix chill night allow us to have real conversations.
For us, I normally let my teen take the lead. Often there will be a part of the show that she wants to talk about. Currently, we have been watching two favourite teen dramas: Breaking Bad and the new Netflix teen drama 13 Reasons Why. Having a teen who has had mental health issues, as a mom, it was important for me to watch these with her so I could see if there were any triggers for her. For us watching shows like these have given us reference points for real conversations.
Recently Netflix brought parents and teens together to ask them what they would watch. The conversations can and will happen when we purposely put ourselves in our teen’s shoes. Shows like these allow us to connect deeply and powerfully.
If you are of my generation, you may remember the ABC after school specials or the episodes of Degrassi that tackled hard topics. Everything was dealt with from drinking, drugs, sex, rape, death and even suicide. For me, it was when watching a movie I first learned the word rape, the words childhood sexual abuse. It was while watching a made for tv movie I learned I was not alone. I learned it had happened to others and it was okay to talk about it. I was my daughter’s age when that happened and in my first year of university before I had my first hard conversation. It was not with my mom; it was a professor. I wanted my teen to know she was not alone. That she could always talk to me and we could have these hard conversations. Yes, having a community you can talk to is a need, but I wanted my teen to know they were loved and supported by me.Netflix recently released an infographic that talks about this.
Now Netflix has been criticized for 13 Reasons Why because it could trigger a young person. That is to be expected when you are bringing up topics like mental illness, bullying, rape and suicide. So as a parent I was glad that Netflix went a step further and not only produced conversation- starting content but met with mental health experts and created the 13 Reasons Why Talking points and the after show 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons and if you are concerned about your teen they also have the 13 Reasons Why Global Resource.
How do you have hard conversations with your teen? Yes, this mom wants to know.
*I am a member of the Canadian #StreamTeam which means I do receive free Netflix, some swag and often a sneak peek at what is ahead. As always though my opinions are my own. I have loved Netflix long before I was a team member and will watch long after I am no longer on the team.