Two weeks back after bringing my youngest daughter home from hospital we needed to watch something. And so as you do, we put on the most watched Netflix miniseries at the moment, “13 reasons why?”

I know what you’re thinking, WHAT THE HECK? Why on earth would you do that to yourself. Don’t worry I have asked myself the same question. Repetitively.

You see, I heard it was disturbing but to be honest nothing was gonna be as traumatizing as my hospital stay so I thought, why not? Let’s get educated. I had read articles written by parents of teens who had pleaded with the rest of us to watch this series and think deeply about it and so we decided to join in with the rest of the world and check it out.

2 weeks later and I am honestly a mild wreck. The images of rape, sexual assault, bullying, suicide and depression are etched into my brain. I am a sensitive viewer but honestly this is not just some dramatized series made to upset us for effect. This is a commentary on what teenagers in America are facing today. What they’re witnessing. What they are apart of. What they are doing to each other. And while I am placated by the fact that my kids are still young and we live in suburban South Africa, I am no idealist. I have seen some of these horrors affecting teenagers in our little slice of paradise, first hand. We are not immune and this too is our problem. My children are growing up in the digital age, and if you have young kids, then so are yours. They’re going to be privy to online bullying and pornography will be accessible while they are still innocently trying to get through a school day. They’re going to hear about the boy who thinks it’s ok to name and shame girls. Of the girl who cuts herself. Of the teachers who don’t care. Of the girl sending around naked pictures. They’re going to know and have friends who will have experienced these kinds of things and right now all I want to do is wrap my kids up in cotton wool and stuff them in a time capsule somewhere far far away.

So what do we do? What do I do to protect my children? How do I teach them? How do I prepare them? What role can I play in ensuring that this is not their story? And how can I help prevent this in the many young lives that I have access to? I don’t yet have answers but I think we can all go on a journey of facing, head on, some of the extreme pressures and pain the world is offering us. We need to get educated and become informed about things like bullying, social media and depression. We can not pretend that this is not our problem. We can not blame or shift the responsibility of change onto someone else. And we HAVE to believe that there is another way. That there is hope. That as we become aware of some of the evils lurking in the shadows so we will be able to equip ourselves to deal with them with the help of the Holy Spirit. I refuse to resign myself to the fact that this has to be the story of our children. Is anyone else feeling the same?

You cannot afford to NOT watch this. And so know that like other media about other horrors in the world that:

  1. This series will open your eyes. Let’s keep them wide open and start talking to our kids about how to handle hard things.
  2. This series will make you angry. Let’s allow our anger to fuel our passion to find another way for our children.
  3. This series will make you cry. Let’s sow tears into our prayers and cry out on behalf of a generation that desperately needs our help.
  4. This series will make you feel fear. Let’s fight FEAR- it’s a liar from the pit of hell. I refuse to live scared of what may possibly be. Not today.

As you walk away with horrific imagery and too much food for thought, I pray that you will know that there is hope. That you will, against all hope, in hope believe (Gen 4:18). That you’ll cling to the belief that this life is not the end. That as you face your future, as you walk through whatever this life may hold, you would hold onto hope. That you’d find assured confidence in true hope. In the divine promise of God manifested through the life of Jesus. He is the ultimate hope carrier and it is from Him that we can access the hope we need to make it through. Call me crazy, even foolish? But I believe that there is hope enough for all of us as we raise and parent our children in the world today.