This past weekend I spent my nights binge watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. When it first came out I saw a lot of back-lashing and commentary on social media and never really knew what it was about. Friday night, my wife and I decided to watch it. My wife was battling a cold so she dozed in and out of sleep during the series, but I spent Friday and Saturday until 4 am watching. I couldn't stop watching it, it drew you in immediately. I probably could have finished it Friday night/morning if I knew our little guy wouldn't be up at the ass crack of dawn.
I know my blogs are are full of self-deprecating humor and a sarcastic insight into our crazy bunch and our family life. However on a rare occasion I like to post something that hits home. Being a parent is not for the weak at heart. It's a tough job with endless hours and no paycheck at the end of the week, but there are benefits. I've watched a lot of things on tv, but NOTHING has ever been so powerful than 13 Reasons Why. This series really managed to hit every single feel button, and really manages to touch on every single facet of a bullying. As a parent, watching this series I was felt every single emotion possible. I was bullied at home, but I wasn't a bully. Our middle son was bullied in his Freshman year of high school and we went to battle with the school. Our daughters have defended children being bullied. This show left me with so much.
Here are my thoughts after watching Season 1:
To those that are being bullied: I know you've heard it a thousand times, maybe you haven't, but the truth is YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You didn't do anything to be bullied nor is it your fault. Sometimes you may think that ending it all is the only way out, but it's not. Feeling lost is okay, making mistakes is okay, being different is okay, not fitting in is okay, we've all been there in some way. You can't change things if you're NOT HERE to make the change. Stay here with us and tell your story, fight to make the change and you'll be the change. I know sometimes you're in such a dark place that you feel like you'll never find the light, but trust me, and I'm speaking from experience the light is there. You're SOMEBODY! You're LOVED! You're SPECIAL! You're NEEDED! If you don't have anyone to talk to, talk to us.
To those that do the bullying: I understand that sometimes the ones that bully are being bullied at home or see bullying being done at home and it becomes a learned behavior. Understand this, that learned behavior can be changed. Yes, it will take work, but you don't have to be what you see. I also understand that there are those that bully because they think that they're better than everyone that isn't "on their level". To those people, you need a swift punch in the throat for being an asshole! You don't get to walk around self-righteous and pretentious and prey on the weak because it makes YOU feel better about yourselves. Don't be that guy. Don't be that girl. Rise above the pretentious bullshit like being the popular kid and just be a friggen good person.
To Schools that don't have anti-bullying protocol: What's the matter with you? Don't tell me it's a budget thing because that's a poor excuse. It doesn't require a budget to educate teachers and students on the effects bullying has on kids. It doesn't cost anything to educate teachers and staff to pick up on warning signs that kids exhibit and it certainly doesn't cost anything to educate teachers and staff to know warning signs of a suicidal teen. It takes time, that's all it takes. Schools are supposed to be safe places for students. Not just the popular kids or the kids that come from the all-American family. ALL KIDS, of all different kinds of backgrounds deserve to feel safe, at home and in school.
To parents: KNOW your kids. TALK to your kids. UNDERSTAND your kids. TEACH your kids. Be INVOLVED in your kids' lives even if it means sitting them down and not letting them leave until they bare they're souls. Sometimes as parents we get lost in our struggles that we miss opportunities in our children's lives. We take for granted that they have struggles too. That they too are fighting for something, and in some cases they're fighting for their lives. We have jobs as parents. We don't just get to give them life and let them figure it out on their own. We have to each our kids to be good people. Teach them compassion and empathy. Understanding and love. Courage and hope. We have to teach them that everyone is fighting for something. We have to teach them that everyone is fighting for something. We have to teach them they are stronger together, not stronger tearing each other apart or bringing each other down. We have to teach them that people are different and that in itself doesn't make them bad or deserving of bullying.
The change starts with us as parents. If we do it right and I mean really do it right, our children will learn from us. What they take away from us and our lessons, they'll pass it on to their children and their children will pass it on to theirs and so on. Enough is enough. For the love of God our children are our future.
If you're a teenager, a parent, a teacher, an adult and haven't seen this series... WATCH IT! If you're a parent, watch it with your kids! You might end up saving a life or two.