So I finished this book yesterday that my 9th grader chose from his summer reading list. I like to read what my boys are reading since they have become independent readers. I’ve missed some here and there and haven’t been able to keep up with them all, but this book, I had heard things about, so I thought I should read it. Yesterday I finished a book called 13 Reasons Why. Have you heard of it? Holy moly. 13 Reasons Why is a book about a girl named Hannah and the 13 reasons why she killed herself. The way the world is today, the way teenagers are today, I don’t know what I was expecting from this book. I think maybe I was expecting to read this book and shake my head in disgust at the content that my 14 year old was being exposed to. Instead, I closed this book yesterday, and thought, this is an important book for teenagers to read. This is an important book for parents to read. And this is an important book to discuss. I can’t say it enough, being a teenager is hard. It is hard today and it was hard 25 years ago(ouch!) when I was 15. At 15, I was depressed and at 15 I had thoughts about what the world would be like if I wasn’t in it. I had friends who were depressed. I had friends who were dealing with really hard circumstances. I was dealing with hard circumstances. I think for the most part, all teenagers struggle in one way or another. But some don’t have a safety net. Some don’t have a support system. Some get so hopelessly lost in all of the chaos around them that they start drowning in it and can’t find their way out.
An important take away that I hope teenagers can pull out of this book is that your words and actions affect others. I see a lot of social media posts about kindness and inclusion but I’m wondering if we are equipping our kids with the tools to do the right thing, because when it comes down to it, kids can be mean, teenagers can be cruel, and if someone is suffering in silence, one little push can be one push too far. Are we setting a good example as parents? Are we careful about the words we say about people, that we are breathing life and not death into the ears and minds of our kids? Are we being good role models for our kids and their friends? Are we safe adults that our kids and other people’s kids can go to if they are hurting or in trouble? We may think our kids are not watching, but they are watching, they are observing, they are learning, and they are mimicking. Nobody is perfect, but I’m sure everyone can do better. Beyond that, there are plenty of grown people in this world who are hurting as well. It’s not just teenagers who can be cruel, adults can be too. We can all do better.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24